When homeowners are having cabinets built, they often overlook the choices available for hinges. Why should these hidden pieces of hardware merit our attention much less our hard-earned dollars?
1. Hinges determine the ease by which a cabinet door is opened and stays open. Spring-loaded hinges close automatically, others stay put while their cheaper counterparts might sway with the wind. Hinges can open anywhere from eighty-six to two hundred seventy degrees. In a tight space, like a small bathroom, a smaller degree opening might be sufficient. For an entertainment center, a homeowner might choose to have the doors open one hundred-eight degrees to completely expose the television unit or they could have the doors tucked away alongside the unit with a two hundred-seventy degree hinge. The doors on the end of a cabinet are usually the only ones that need the larger wrap-around hinges. Most cabinets need one hundred-ten or one hundred-twenty degree hinges. Remember: the larger degree they open, the larger the hinge. Cabinet doors with glass in them require smaller hinges so that they do not show.
2. Homeowners often choose European hinges. Why? Because they are invisible, easy to adjust (to align the cabinets doors) and help create a sleek look for the cabinets. Generally these hinges are used when there is no stile or vertical middle piece visible between the cabinet doors. European hinges should be used only on solid wood stiles as the screws in the hinges will loosen with use on particle board or plywood. Avoid buying cabinets made of particle board because if the screws pull out it is extremely hard to repair the cabinet so that it will hold the screw again. There are about four hundred types of European hinges, so we usually stick with one brand, Salice, which our cabinet hardware store recommends.
3. Surface or cabinet hinges mount on the outside of the cabinet. They are not ever adjustable, so it makes them hard to install. On the other hand, they are cheaper and usually sturdy. Some people like them because they can compliment the knobs, etc., to achieve a desired look. Older cabinets often feature these hinges.
4. Pull-outs can cause problems. Sometimes homeowners want pull-outs (drawers or shelves with a lip on them that pulls out of the cabinet) inside lower cabinets, but to accommodate the hinge and the drawer slide the actual drawer will lose two to three inches of space. Also, unless one is extremely careful, drawer slides often scrape the back of the cabinet doors and leave ugly scratches.
5. Avoid getting paint inside the working part of the hinge because it will ruin it. Take all the hardware off before allowing cabinets to be painted. Some painters will tape them for you, but it is best to let the carpenter hang the door and install the hardware after it is painted. That way the paint fully covers the area where the hinge is going to be and the hardware works properly.
6. Most importantly, hinges should be of the best quality you can afford. It is time-consuming and irritating to try to replace cheap hardware and there is no guarantee that they will not give out quickly or be defective. Buy your hardware from a reputable company and order a few extras in case you remodel or have to replace one that sustains damage. You will be glad you did.