After reading the following tips and instructions on what are hinges, you will save time and effort and it may also help you end up with a more satisfactory job on your DIY project.
If you have never come across a door hinge before, this may be because they usually are hidden behind the door, mortised (fitted flush into the door frame). Perhaps you have never had a reason to study or replace one, or they could have been painted over in older doors. Despite being less visible they serve an incredibly important function in the weight bearing and operation of a door. Hinges are an essential part of the door hardware that allows the opening and closing of doors. Hinge comprise of two metal plates that are attached together with a removable pin. The metal plates are fixed to the door and door jamb (door frame) with screws and are designed to hold the door securely to the jamb and allow it to swing open and closed. The most likely time to be shopping for hinges for many people tends to be when fitting new or replacement doors or gates.
What makes up a hinge?
Getting a better understanding of how hinges work might be helpful in selecting the right hinge for the right type of door. If we take standard weight bearing hinge for example the basic parts are as follows:
- The Leaves: The two metal plates that make up the hinge and join together in the middle to make the barrel.
- The Barrel(s): This is the raised cylindrical section down the centre of the hinge that is in fact made up of several sections; there are generally two, three or five sections (also known as “knuckles”).
- Knuckles: As mentioned above these are the inter-connecting individual parts of the raised barrel section.
- The Pin: This goes down the centre of the barrel and holds the knuckle sections of barrel together i.e. the knuckles enclose the pin and move around it when the door / gate is opened and closed.
Between the knuckles
As one of the leaves of a hinge is screwed to the door / gate frame and the other is screwed to the door / gate, the barrel in between the leaves is therefore the region that takes a lot of the strain, weight and friction. If there is no sort of buffer between each knuckle of a hinge, there is likely to be some wear to the hinge over time. This wear and a lack of lubrication in the hinge may also cause the hinge to become quite squeaky.
Considerations when buying Hinges
The hinge size should be the main consideration while buying hinges. The size of the hinges depend upon the following parameters:
- Door Height
- Door Weight
- Door Width
- Door Thickness
- Trim Dimension Required
- Preference of the type corner (square, radius, round) is also very important while buying hinges for doors and windows.
Types of Hinges
Door Hinges are basically of the following types:
- Butt Hinges
- Ball BearingHinges
- Butterfly Hinges
- Continuous Hinges
- Flush Hinges
- Invisible/ Concealed Hinges
- Latch Hinges
- Mortise Hinges
- Offset Hinges
- Pivot Hinges
- Plain Bearing Hinges
- Screen/ StormDoor Hinges
- Spring Hinges
- Strap Hinges
- Wide Throw Butt Hinges
Perhaps the most popular kind of hinge for hanging doors e.g. internal doors around the house. These are the hinges that have the classic barrels shape along the middle with the rectangular leaves each side. Butt hinges can be plain or washered for example. Rising butt hinges for example enable a door to lift upwards as it opens and this hinge is especially useful in situations where there are uneven floors which need to be cleared by the door for it to operate properly.
Butt hinges are available in fixed or loose pin styles (the pin being the part that passes in the middle of the barrel). A loose pin butt hinge is usually useful when there’s a need to remove a door e.g. to move in / out large furniture items. The pin is usually relatively easily removed to allow this to happen.
A “lift off butt hinge” has a strong fixed bottom pin (on each of the door hinges) but no fixed pin in the top of the hinge. This means that when opened a door can be lifted upwards and off. These make it easier for instance to move furniture, decorate doors, fit flooring right up to the doorway etc. They are commonly used for instance on front doors in flats.
Hinges with Buffers
Especially with heavy doors a hinge with an in-built buffer system between the knuckles could be a more practical choice over time. Some examples of popular hinges with buffers include:
Ball Bearing Hinges: As the name suggests these hinges have ball bearings as buffers between the knuckles and can be used internally or externally. For heavy doors and lots of likely use the version with ball bearings between all of the knuckles whereas in less heavy duty situations a version with ball bearings between just the bottom and top knuckles may be preferable. Standard versions of these hinges for example can be used on doors up to 120 kgs in weight and practical, popular finishes for these hinges include Florentine Bronze or Black Plating. The use of ball bearings gives these hinges great durability and a very smooth opening / closing action.
Washered Hinges: These hinges incorporate metal washers between the knuckles and can be used internally or externally. These are available with double steel washers and self lubricating hinges.
Hinge sizes vary greatly and measurements tend to be expressed in height x width x thickness of leaf of the hinge. Thickness of the hinge leaves for internal butt hinges for example can vary from 1.5 mm to 5 mm. Factors such as the weight / size of the door and the hardness / strength of the hinge material are likely to influence the choice of the hinge. The width and height of hinges vary although many standard internal door hinges tend to be 7 mm or 102 mm high. The number of screw holes in each side of the hinge leaves tends to be 3 or 4 e.g. some taller hinges have 4.
Hinge Materials and Finishes
Hinge materials range between the softer metals such as brass up to harder and stronger metals such as stainless steel for internal doors for example. A wide variety of metals and metal alloys are used for castinghinges. Some of the commonly used materials are:
- Stainless Steel
- Cast Iron
In order to enhance their look and prevent them from tarnishing, hinges are given various finishes. To name a few, polished brass, satin chrome , antique nickel, and oil rubbed bronze finish are some of the finishes available for door hinges.
Door hinges are available in various sizes and shapes. They can have either round corner or square corners.Hinges are however available in a variety of finishes including bright mirror polished (BSS) or brushed satin stainless steel (SSS), polished chrome, satin chrome, polished brass, satin brass, lacquered brass, self-colour (raw) brass, Florentine bronze as well as black plating.
With regards to hinges for external use or rustic theme doors wrought iron or steel with dark antique finish are popular choices. Galvanized finishes on external hinges help to protect them from the effects of moisture, rain and damp conditions. Wrought iron hinges are likely to be more expensive because they tend to be made using traditional blacksmith techniques.
Many external doors and gates tend to be quite large and heavy therefore a long “T hinge” design which screws into the bar of a gate in a number of places for example is a practical and popular design. The length sizes of T Hinges can therefore be 4 to 18 inches (115mm to 475mm).
Left hand or Right Hand Hinges (Handing)
Handing in relation to fitting door hinges refers to knowing which way the door is supposed to close. Most hinges are reversible, allowing either end to be mounted in an upright position. However, some hinges are made specifically for either a right-hand or left-hand door. These cannot be reversed, so you must select the appropriate hinge. The question is, how do you know which hinge to use? When looking at the door from above, if a door closes in a clockwise direction it is left hand, whereas if the door closes in an anti-clockwise direction it’s a right hand.
Be sure to determine which type of hinges you need before beginning the installation.
- Let's suppose the hinge is a loose-pin hinge. In this case, the hinge must be mounted so that the pin can be removed from the top. Most hinges can have the handing reversed. There are only a few hinges that cannot have the handing changed. To reverse the handing, remove the pin and the plug, turn the hinge over but still assembled and replace the pin in the top and the plug in the bottom. The handing is then reversed.
- In the top figure the doors are mounted on the same side, but one door opens in while the other door opens out. Even when mounted on the same side, the door that opens in takes a left-hand hinge while the door that opens out takes a right-hand reverse hinge.
- In the bottom figure both doors are mounted on opposite sides, but the door that opens in requires a right-hand hinge while the door that opens out requires a left-hand reverse hinge.
- The outside of a door is the corridor side of an interior door and the outside of an exterior door.
- Stand on the outside of the door. If the door opens into the room to your right, it requires a right-hand hinge. If it opens into the room and to your left, it requires a left-hand hinge.
Fire is a real risk in any building and many aspects of building’s construction are made to take that risk into account and door hinges are no exception. It is important for example that all aspects of fire doors function well, and it’s important that all pathways that fire, smoke, and gases could use to spread in a building are covered. For these reasons you may want to check when selecting door hinges that they're suitable for fire door use, have been fire tested, and that they can accommodate the addition of intumescent material. All hinges used on fire-rated doors must include a fire-rating label. While industrial users tend to be more likely to be impacted by this requirement, home owners may discover that the door leading in the garage to your home requires fire-rated hardware.
A manufacturer’s warranty on hinges is also a sign of quality in the hinges you choose.
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