How to Install Pivot Hinge Doors


Pivot hinges are a type of hardware used for hanging and swinging a door. Because pivots are nearly invisible on most doors, they create a clean, elegant look. The pivot transfers the weight of a door to the top and bottom of the opening, which will often make it easier to operate the door than if it were hung using butt hinges. This effect means that pivots can be used with over-sized or heavy doors. They also tend to last longer and require less maintenance than butt hinges over time.

Things You'll Need

  • Pivot set
  • Door
  • Router or chisel
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • Plumb bob
  • Screwdriver
  • Determine how many pivots your door requires. Most doors need only a top and bottom pivot, which are sold in sets to accommodate standard-sized doors.

    If your door weighs less than 250 pounds, is no thicker than 1-3/4 inches, and is no taller than 8 feet 6 inches, use a standard top and bottom pivot.

    If your door exceeds any of these measurements, look for a heavy-duty pivot set that includes a third "intermediate" pivot.

  • Compare center-hung versus offset pivots. Most residential doors are installed using center-hung pivots. These units are installed in the center of the door, and are hidden out of view. Off-set pivots are installed at one side of the door, and look similar to a traditional hinge. Off-set pivots must be used on all fire-rated openings. Center-hung pivots are not fire-rated.

  • Remove the pivots from the package and find the paper template. This paper is installed on the door and frame to show you where the pivots will be installed. It includes dimensions for holes and recesses that must be installed in the door or frame.

  • Prep the frame along the base of the jamb to receive the pivot bracket. The template will indicate the correct location. Use a wood router or hammer and chisel to create a recess for the jamb bracket. This bracket will sit flush with the surface of the frame. Pre-drill any holes that are shown.

  • Drill holes in the top of the frame as needed. Your pivot set may require a mortise be created for the top bracket, or may indicate only a hole for receiving the pivot.

  • Use the template to prep the top and bottom of the door. Each will require a mortise pocket that must be chiseled or routed out, as well as holes for screws and the pivots themselves.

  • Hold a plumb bob at the hole you've drilled in the header of the frame. Use the plumb bob to find the point on the floor directly below this hole. Install the floor portion of the bottom pivot at this location using the fasteners provided.

  • Install the pivot components in the top and bottom of the door. Screw them in place using the fasteners provided. Add any plates or components into the head of the frame as indicated on your template.

  • Set the door. Place the pivot arm (on the bottom of the door) into the spindle installed in the floor. Use a screwdriver to turn the screw at the top of the door to engage the pivot pin. Slide the pivot into place at the top and secure this screw to hold the pivots in place. Check that the door is operating correctly, and adjust the pivots according to the manufacturer's instructions. You will generally be able to raise or lower the door within the opening without removing it from the frame using integral adjustment screws or valves.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are installing a new metal door and frame, request that they are prepped at the factory to receive pivots. It is difficult for a DIY homeowner to prep a metal door or frame in the home because the process requires highly specialized tools and equipment. Pockets or preps for pivot hinges are standard options offered by most hollow metal door manufacturers.

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