Types of Hinges


Hinges are used to connect a door to a frame while also allowing the door to swing open and closed. They are typically made from steel, bronze or brass and are available in a wide variety of finishes. Hinges are chosen based on the size and weight of the door, as well as on their appearance and operational capabilities.


  • Butt hinges are among the most cost-effective and widely used types of hinges. They consist of two metal plates (leafs) that are connected by a steel pin. One leaf is fastened to the door while the other is fastened to the frame, and the hinge may be surface mounted or mortised. The average door will require three butt hinges ranging from four to five inches in height depending on the size of the door.


  • Barrel hinges are sold as two separate pieces. They connect in the center like a butt hinge, but may use a steel pin or may simply be welded together. They are designed for use on doors or frames that are already installed and may simply need additional support or alignment. Barrel hinges tend to be smaller than butt hinges, and used much less frequently.


  • Pivot hinges are installed at the top and bottom of a door, and are always used in pairs. The bottom pivot is fastened to the floor while the top unit is attached to the head or jamb of the frame. Pivots are frequently used on heavy or oversized doors, which may not function correctly when hung on hinges. They help to distribute the weight of the door to the floor, which allows the door to last longer and to swing more easily.


  • Continuous, or piano hinges consist of two connected metal plates that extend along the entire length of the door. They are used on doors that are subject to high abuse or heavy traffic, particularly in schools and shopping centers. Because they are full-height, they spread force and tension along the entire hinge, which allows them to last much longer than a butt hinge.


  • Invisible hinges are concealed within a door and frame so that they are not visible when the door is closed. They are used in high-end applications for their visual appeal and clean lines. Often known as SOSS hinges, invisible hinges are installed in carefully mortised pockets within the door and frame. They are very expensive, and can be difficult to install without experience.


  • Spring hinges resemble a traditional butt hinge, but contain a spring assembly at the pin or butt. When the door is opened, the spring causes it to close and latch automatically. Spring hinges are an affordable and simple alternative to door closers, though it is not possible to control their closing speed. These hinges are often used on fire-rated or exterior openings.

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  • Hardware Application: Door and Hardware Institute; 2005
  • The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing; Bill Phillips; 2005
  • Photo Credit CJC4454: Flickr.com
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