How to Choose The Right Hinges For Your Project
posted on October 30, 2014 by Rockler

When it comes to cabinets, a lot hinges on the hinges. Their style and functionality have a huge effect on the overall appearance and performance of your cabinets and doors, maybe as much as the choice of wood or finish. The good news is that a wide range of hinge options are available, so there's an excellent chance there's a hinge out there that's right for your application. But with so many choices, how do you find it?

Probably the best place to start is to figure out what type of cabinets and doors you have because that's typically how hinges are broadly categorized.

1. Determine cabinet type

There are two basic types of cabinets (with corresponding hinges):

Face-frame cabinets incorporate a frame (often made from 1-1/2" to 2" wide solid wood) that is attached to the front edges, or face, of the case. Hinges mount to this face frame. This is the most common style in American cabinets.

Frameless cabinets are essentially a four-sided box, typically made from 3/4" thick stock. Hinges mount to the cabinet interior. Frameless cabinets also are sometimes called Euro-style cabinets.

2. Determine door overlay

This has to do with the position of the door in relation to the cabinet opening. The configurations for frameless and face-frame cabinets are slightly different.

Overlay types for face-frame cabinets

Overlay on a Face Frame Cabinet
Overlay doors do exactly what the name implies: They cover the cabinet opening completely, overlapping the cabinet case or face frame on all sides.

Inset on a frameless cabinet with a Euro-style hinge

Inset doors, by contrast, fit entirely within the cabinet opening and sit flush with the cabinet sides or face frames
when in the closed position.

Partial Inset on a face frame cabinet

Partial-inset, 3/8" inset or lipped doors overlap the cabinet opening slightly on all sides, but a 3/8" x 3/8" shoulder machined along all edges on the back of the door allows part of the door thickness to sit inside the opening.

Overlay types for frameless cabinets

full overlay cabinet

Full overlay: A full-overlay door covers all or nearly all of the front edge of the cabinet. This overlay type typically is used for doors at the ends of a cabinet.

half overlay cabinet

Half overlay: This overlay type is commonly used in the middle of a run of cabinets where the doors share a single partition wall. This hinge will allow the door to cover half of the partition wall (or approximately 3/8"). Don’t confuse this with 1/2" overlay, which will allow a door to cover up the cabinet or face frame by 1/2".

Inset Cabinet

Inset: As on face-frame cabinets, inset door on frameless cabinets fit within the cabinet opening and sit flush with the front edges of the cabinet.

3. Other things to think about

Decide whether you want to see the hinge

In some applications, the hinges are used to add stylistic detail to cabinetry; in others, visible hinges would detract from the desired effect. There are three basic options:

A Cabinet with Concealed hinges

Concealed hinge: No part of the hinge is visible from the outside of the cabinet when the door is closed. Ideal for modern, minimalist applications in which visible hardware would detract from the design.

A Cabinet with Semi Concealed hinges

Semi-concealed hinge: A hinge that is at least partly visible from the outside of the cabinet when the door is closed. May incorporate details such as a decorative ball tip or finial tip.

Exposed hinge

Exposed hinge: A hinge that is fully visible on the outside of the cabinet when the doors are closed.

Decide whether you want a traditional hinge or a European hinge

Butt hinge

Butt hinge: The quintessential traditional hinge, it’s composed of two pivoting plates whose interlocking fingers form a barrel and are held together by a pin. One plate is attached to the door; the other, to the cabinet. Butt hinges sometimes require a mortise in the door and/or the cabinet to prevent an excessive gap.

Deluxe (adjustable mount) butt hinge: A butt hinge with elongated mounting slots that allow you to adjust doors horizontally and vertically for a perfect fit.

Knife hinge

Knife hinge: Shaped like scissors. One half of hinge mounts to top edge (or bottom edge) of door. Other half mounts to horizontal cabinet edge directly above (and below) door.

European hinge

European hinge: A type of concealed hinge especially popular on frameless Euro-style cabinets but also available for face-frame applications. European hinges have a mounting plate that secures to the cabinet and a cup that seats in a (typically 35mm) circular mortise drilled in the back of the door. One popular benefit of Euro-style hinges is that they offer adjustment in two and sometimes three directions, making it easy to fine-tune the alignment of the door. Side adjustment regulates the gaps between doors, cabinets and walls for perfect parallel alignment. Height adjustment aligns doors precisely at top and bottom. Depth adjustment (not always available) lets you bring door faces in line with the vertical front of the cabinet. Another benefit is easy removal of doors for cleaning and refinishing.

Take into account how far will the door need to open

How far or to what angle a hinge will allow a door to open is called degree of opening. Some hinges will let the door open just beyond 90°, but others offering a much greater degree of opening are available. For example, a 270° hinge will allow the door to swing back against the cabinet side. (It bears noting, though, that this type of hinge will work only on a frameless cabinet with full overlay doors).

Decide how you want the hinge to mount to the cabinet and door

Surface Mount Hinge

Surface-mount hinge: A hinge that does not need a hole or mortise to be drilled in the door or cabinet in order to mount it. It simply mounts to the surface.

Mortised hinge

Mortised hinge: A hinge that requires the cutting of a mortise or recess in the door or cabinet to fit the hinge leaves for proper mounting.

No-mortise hinge

No-mortise hinge: A style of surface-mounted hinge that screws directly to the cabinet and the door without any mortises or special recesses being cut into the surfaces.

Wraparound hinge

Wraparound: A style of hinge where the leaves are formed to wrap around the edge of the door and/or the cabinet side or face frame. A partial wraparound hinge will wrap around the door and have a plain flat leaf for the cabinet so it can be used on a frameless cabinet. A full back-to-back wraparound hinge will wrap around on both halves of the hinge so it can be used on a face-frame cabinet.



Decide whether you want any special features

Self-closing hinge:This type of hinge pulls the door shut when it is within a few inches of being closed and keeps it closed. Sometimes called snap-closing.

Self-opening systems: This type of hinge comes with a mechanism that propels the door open when activated by a push.

Soft-close hinge: A hinge that incorporates a mechanism that activates when the door is within a few inches of the shut position and brings it gently closed.

Buy Enough Hinges to Support Your Door
Weight Chart
Two hinges are enough for many average-size doors. But if you’re working with an especially large or heavy door, you might need more to ensure you get the performance and durability you expect. For Euro-style concealed hinges, use the chart at right to calculate how many hinges you’ll need for a given door height and weight. When in doubt, err on the side of too much support rather than too little.

Download this article as a PDF.

posted on October 30, 2014 by Rockler
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26 thoughts on “How to Choose The Right Hinges For Your Project”

  • John Gagnon

    Is there a euro style hinge for face frame overlay style cabinet doors that will allow the door to fully clear the face frame when open, to allow clearance for slide out shelves?


  • bruce blodget

    I have a knife rack mounted under my upper cabinet. I have a broken hinge and cannot find one anywhere, can you help?

  • Todd

    Is there a concealed 3/8" inset hinge, or better yet a soft-close, concealed 3/8" inset hinge available for face frame or frameless cabinets? I can't seem to find any. Thanks.

  • Justin Stokes

    You want something like this:

  • richard yager

    I have the same question as above. I need euro style face frame full and half overlay hinges for cabinets with slide out drawers.

  • Kevin

    Help, I need to replace a hinge on a cabinet that is in the corner. Where most hinges are in a straight line when the door is open this one would be in a straight line when the door is closed so it needs to swing in the opposite direction of most hinges. ( if that makes any sense). The cabinet is framless. Can anyone assist?

  • Jaime Cantu

    I have the same question: Is there a euro style hinge for face frame overlay style cabinet doors that will allow the door to fully clear the face frame when open, to allow clearance for slide out shelves?



  • Walter Stubbs
    Walter Stubbs May 2, 2014 at 7:18 am

    I am putting a 3/4x 18x69 inch door into a face frame opening. It will require a full inset hinge. The distance
    in the inside of the face frame is 1/2". Can I use a Blum hinge for this application? If so which one?

  • Greg

    My face frame is 1&3/4" wide and I'd like the door overlaid enough to cover as much of the face frame as possible. Is there a hinge that is wide enough to cover 1&1/2 inch of face frame?

  • Ken Schotsch

    I have a cabinet with a mirror mounted on it. So I can't fit the standard full overlay hinge on the door. It does not have the thickness for the cup of the hinge. So, my question is could I use a hinge for a full inset door mounted in reverse; with the cup end of the hinge mounted on the side and the long part mounted on the door?

  • Lillian Travers
    Lillian Travers June 17, 2014 at 2:34 am

    How do I adjust the hinges on my kitchen doors so they will close all the way. I do not know what screw to adjust so the doors will close all the way.


  • Neil Volk

    Have searched your website for replacement hinge I need.

    I do not see one.

    Can I email you a picture of the hinge I have, so you might sell me the right one?



  • James Losey

    I am adding an additional cabinet to my kitchen but can not seem to find the same Blum overlay hinges. The cup piece has '110' and the frame has '1 5/8'. Do you have these? Also, do you have a soft close version of this hinge? Do I need 2 soft close hinges for each door or one plus a regular hinge?
    Thank you for your help.
    James Losey

  • pinkle

    The best comprehensive, instructional, simply written, understandable piece of information, I had just about ever read. Thank you so much. With your guide in my hand. I got exactly what I needed for the job I was going to do!
    Brilliant!! A Very Happy Bunny

  • Pravina Patel

    I want to replace hinges on cabinet door. Can I email a picture of hinges to get right one.

  • Sheila nichols

    I have inset kitchen cabinets with a lip around is their a hidden hinge that can be used on these type doors

  • Rob

    My cabinet doors look just like your face frame Partial-inset, 3/8 overlay pic. Is there a auto self close hinge for this application? "Shown in a face frame application (Choose 49513 or 47967)
    Blum® 100° Overlay Clip Top Hinges 3/8" - 5/8" Overlay for Face Frame Applications (Pair)
    $11.59" seems like it should've the one I need but the pic looks like it's not an overlay door just an inset

  • Ed Smith

    I am refinishing a secretary's desk with the fold down writing table which, when opened ;the support boards extend out of the sides of the desk structure. I need the hinges that lowers the writing platform. these hinges are flat 180 degs. when opened 3-4 inches long. No similar hinges found in your wed site. I also need 2 hinge like mechanisms that drive the support extensions when the writing surface is lowered In Mass. this desk is called a "Governor Winthrop" desk.

  • Penny Bryan

    My earlier email was wrong measurements. My ottoman lid is oak weighs 15 lbs. 22"x26" and is 1" deep. I need hardware hinges to make sure it doesn't smash fingers. I want to be able to open fully and soft close. Thank you so much for your help!

    Penny B.

  • Grant

    I am looking to use a blum hinge but was wondering if there was a hinge that could handle a 2 inch overlay or larger? Or if not what is the largest overlay I can have?

  • Karen Entwistle
    Karen Entwistle March 10, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I am looking for a hinge that can be attached to a secretary with non-flush inset doors. The doors are actually about 1/2" inside the cabinet from the side rails. Would prefer to have the hinges mounted to inner sidewalls of lower cabinet (which are flush with the 2" wide side rails of cabinet.) Would also like possibly to have the right-handed door fold back around the outside of the secretary. I need a way to remove the left-handed door, (or better yet both doors instead of wrapping around the right-handed one) with a lift off hinge, take-apart hinge, or a clip hinge, that is, if any of these are an easy process that could be done on a daily basis. Any hinge suggestions?

  • Tina

    Can you recommend a hinge for my project, please. I am retrofitting a 3 door armoire to a media cabinet and need hinges to attach 2 of the doors together (bifold) but they are both very heavy, 60 inches tall 3/4 thick.


    2doors hinge together in corner where lazy susan is what 2hinges door to door would i use what 2 hinges from door to cabinet would i use want doors to open as much as possible thank you

  • Genell Renshaw
    Genell Renshaw March 26, 2015 at 2:07 am

    Don, it sounds like you need some corner hinges. You can find some at this URL:

    Or you can enter "Corner Hinge" in the Rockler website search bar to go to them. If you have further questions please don't hesitate to contact a product specialist at or you can also use the "Live Chat" tool on this page to get in contact with us.

    Best of luck on your project!

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What People are Saying:

I have been using Rockler for years, your products are always the best that can be purchased and your prices are very reasonable. Ann you have always done your best to make me feel as though I was your very best customer. Thank you for great service."

- Daniel F.
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