Kitchen cabinet hinges are things you don't normally think about until it's time to either replace them or buy new cabinets. And even then, it may be an afterthought for most.
Despite their seemingly mundane purpose cabinet hinges have come a long way since the basic butt hinge, made up of two "wings" joined by a "knuckle" and pin. And although this kind of traditional hinge is still used, there's some very decorative, innovative and convenience-wielding cabinet hinges on the market today.
One of the main things to acknowledge when it comes to cabinet hinges is that there are basically two different categories or "types" of hinges. Among these two classes are
Your particular situation (buying new cabinets or buying new hinges for existing cabinets) will dictate which class of cabinet hinge to pursue.
One final point to consider is the technology that's associated with some hinges. You may or may not be familiar with self-close or soft-close features. They offer a level of convenience for your cabinets and make using them a bit more 'satisfying' (no more slamming cabinet doors).
Whether you're buying for new cabinets or simply replacing old hinges, get familiar with what kinds of hinges are at hand, the features that are available and then choose a style that's most fitting for your taste and décor.
There are many styles of kitchen cabinet hinges available today but as different as they may be, they all fall into two basic categories: exposed and concealed.
One wing is attached to the door and the other is attached to the cabinet's face frame (for framed cabinets) or the cabinet wall (for frameless cabinets). Semi-concealed hinges have parts that are hidden when the cabinet door is closed but there is still some portion of the hinge that's visible.
Surface mounted hinges are fully visible, with one hinge wing attached to the outside of the cabinet door and the other wing fastened to the cabinet frame.
If you're refurbishing your existing cabinets and ordering new hinges the key point to keep in mind is that your cabinet construction will determine which configuration of exposed hinge you can use.
In other words, before you choose a type of exposed hinge, you'll need to know whether you have framed or frameless cabinets, full or partial inset doors and the type of door overlay that exists. The reason for this is because the variations in cabinet construction dictate how the cabinet hinge itself is constructed.
If you're not familiar with terminology like 'framed' and 'frameless' cabinets, you can learn more about what these terms mean and how how they're constructed by viewing this page.
Just The Hinge Knuckle Is Visible On This Full-Inset Cabinet
Even if you don't have full-inset cabinet doors there are plenty of hinge varieties where most of the hinge is hidden, if you prefer a traditional hinge but don't like a lot of hardware showing.
These types of hinges are typically classified as the semi-concealed variety.
One drawback with traditional exposed hinges that have a generous swing angle is that they can sometimes bang into adjacent cabinets.
My kitchen cabinets have non-self closing hinges so the doors have catches to keep them closed. This requires a little more effort to open the doors.
More times than I'd like to admit I open a door (with a little extra 'oomph' to overcome the clasp) and end up banging an adjacent cabinet door because my fingers accidentally (..or clumsily..) slip off the knob. Usually I'm not quick enough to catch it and without any swing restrictions on the hinges, the cabinet door knob goes careening into the adjacent cabinet door.
It's particularly nasty on corner cabinets where one door only has to swing a little bit past 90 degrees to hit the adjacent door. That's when I think I'd prefer to have hinges with limitations on door swing. It's something to keep in mind (particularly if you're clumsy like me).
"European" or "Cup" Concealed Hinge
There are several varieties of concealed hinges. One predominant style is known as the "European" or "Euro" hinge. It's also known as a "cup hinge" because of the cup-like fitting on one end of the hinge.
Other types of concealed hinges include "barrel" or "cylinder" hinges and Soss hinges. Barrel hinges have two cylinders connected by small metal links hinged at the center.
Soss hinges have two metal wings that also are joined by metal links.
The benefit of these hinges (barrel and Soss) over the European cup hinge is that they're usually smaller and less noticeable than Euro hinges when the cabinet door is open.
Concealed hinges, regardless of type, require some drilling and/or a mortise be cut into the cabinetry. For Soss and barrel hinges, both the door and the cabinet box/frame must be cut to accept the hinge. Euro style hinges require a cutout only on the door to accept the hinge cup.
Similar to exposed hinges, concealed hinges are manufactured to accommodate different variations in cabinet construction (framed/frameless, door overlay, etc.). If you're buying hinges yourself, you'll need to be aware of this in order to get the right hinges.
The typical cost of exposed hinges ranges from approximately $2.00 per pair for a simple wrap-around hinge to $8.00 for a wide-opening, non-mortise hinge.
Comparatively, concealed hinges may range from $6.00 per pair for 2-way (adjustable in 2 directions) face-frame hinges to $18.00 for more complex bi-fold hinges. Keep in mind however that the more expensive concealed hinges are for specialized functions such as wide-angle, blind-corner and bi-fold applications. Not all of your cabinet doors require these kinds of hinges.
Choosing the right kitchen cabinet hinges comes down to answering some questions about your wants and needs regarding the look and function of your cabinets.
Buying new cabinets is a bit easier depending on who you're buying your cabinets from. If you purchase fully custom-made cabinets you should be able to specify the type of hinge you want. However, many name-brand manufactured cabinets don't offer 'hinge options' and you'll have to take what's offered by the manufacturer.
This web page wouldn't be complete without talking about some of the latest innovations and features of cabinet hinges currently on the market.
Standard hinges have been around for a long time and you could say that they're at a "mature" level of technology.
Concealed or European-style hinges however continue to evolve and while it may seem hard to get excited about a hinge, there is reason to pay them some attention. The is mainly because of innovations in their ease of use and convenience.
Blum®, Inc. developed Euro style cabinet hinges with their BLUMOTION soft-close feature. It's the same adaptable closing system that's used on their soft-close drawers. The innovation lies in the ability for the hinge to adapt to the closing force that's applied. The door will close softly regardless of how hard it's pushed.
Wood Technology, Inc. produces the Evolve™ hinge which has a silent-close, hands-free feature. This means the cabinet door will close on its own once it's pushed past 80 degrees of opening angle.
The "Silence Hinge", made by Ruca USA, incorporates its own soft-close features that prevent slamming. It also has an unassisted self-close feature at about 45 degrees of opening angle.
As an example, manufacturers of cabinets with thermofoil doors (doors that are covered in a thin vacuum-formed film of vinyl) recommend removal of the doors in the vicinity of self-cleaning ovens and appliances. This is so they won't be damaged from heat generation during the self-cleaning cycle. Being able to quickly and easily remove the doors takes a lot of aggravation out of the process.
The Blum® CLIP top hinges afford quick removal and installation of cabinet doors by way of a simple clip feature. These hinges are tool-less in that no tools are needed to remove the door. They also feature 3-way door adjustment by means of adjustment screws.
The NEXIS hinge system by Grass America also offers tool-free cabinet door removal and installation as well as 3-way adjustment.
These features are included in the AVENTOS lift system by Blum®. There are several varieties within the AVENTOS system each designed to accommodate different types of overhead lift-style cabinetry.
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