By Tom Scalisi | Published Sep 9, 2022 9:22 AM
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Replacing door hinges is one of the easiest ways to upgrade a space subtly. Some DIYers may think only about cabinet hardware hinges, but interior and exterior door hinges deserve enhancements, too. Whether it’s switching from dated brass to a modern black finish or swapping an incessantly noisy hinge for something smoother and quieter, this simple DIY project can do a lot for a home.
Although door hinges themselves are small and hide between the door and the jamb, their quality and proper installation affect the function and longevity of the doors. For that reason, it’s important to choose the best door hinges.
Door hinges are sometimes unsung heroes (until they start squeaking, that is). But for such a relatively simple device, there are many important considerations to keep in mind when shopping, including type, size, and material and finish.
Quite a few different types of door hinges are available, each with its own specialty or function. However, the most common hinges for the doors found in most homes include:
Note: Hinges can fall into one or more categories. For instance, a self-closing hinge may also be mortised or non-mortised.
Hinges come in different sizes, and their dimensions can often be an indication of their hardiness. The most common door hinge sizes are 3, 3.5, 4, and 4.5 inches.
Three-inch hinges are light duty, and they’re best used between bifold doors and very lightweight hollow-core doors. Three-and-a-half-inch hinges are more robust, making them more suitable for standard interior doors, though they’ll work just as well for lightweight hollow doors. Four-inch and 4.5-inch hinges are more common for heavier solid-wood doors and exterior applications such as entry doors. These hinges often have four holes per leaf to better distribute the weight of the door.
In most cases, it’s easiest to measure the size of the existing hinge and match it with a new hinge. However, for new installations, most folks will be happiest with 3.5- or 4-inch hinges.
The best door hinges come in a variety of materials. The most common materials are steel and stainless steel. Steel is the most affordable, but stainless steel is typically stronger and more corrosion-resistant. Brass, iron, and bronze are also popular options.
Regardless of material, most hinges are available in a few different finishes. These include old standbys such as brass and gold as well as black, satin, polished, and unfinished stainless. These bits of hardware are small and not always visible, so it’s best to choose doorknobs and fixtures first and then match the hinges to those choices.
Doors are available in different thicknesses. Common interior doors are just 1.375 inches thick, while solid wood and exterior doors are usually 1.75 inches thick. Doors can also be 2 inches thick or more. Thickness often correlates to weight, which requires hinges of different capacities.
In general, 3-inch to 3.5-inch hinges are suitable for lightweight 1.375-inch thick doors. For doors measuring 1.75 inches thick, a 3.5-inch to 4-inch hinge will do, depending on whether the door is solid wood or hollow. For heavy doors with 2-inch thicknesses, 4-inch or 4.5-inch hinges are needed because they require more surface area for distributing the weight.
That might seem like a lot of information for such a small component, but quite a bit hinges on the important decision of what product to pick. To make the shopping process a bit easier to swing, check out the following list of some of the best door hinges available.
Folks looking to upgrade or refresh the hinges throughout their home in one kit should consider Amazon Basics door hinges. These hinges feature a butt design most suitable for mortise applications, and they measure 3.5 inches long, making them suitable for most light- and medium-duty doors.
This 18-hinge kit allows users to replace an entire home’s doors with one purchase. They come in both rounded and square edges, and they’re available in multiple colors, including antique brass, matte black, oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass, and satin nickel. They only have three screw holes, so they’re not suitable for heavier doors.
Get the Amazon Basics 3.5-by-3.5-inch door hinges on Amazon.
When it comes to saving money, purchasing a set of 30 hinges for a reasonable price is tough to argue with. This kit from TDC includes enough hinges for the entire home. These iron butt hinges are most suitable for replacing mortised hinges.
Shoppers can choose from round or square hinges. A choice of satin nickel, matte black, or satin chrome allows shoppers to match the entire set to their home’s existing hardware. At 3.5 inches, the hinges are suitable for lightweight and medium-duty doors, but heavy-duty doors are likely out of the question.
Get the TDC door hinges on Amazon.
DIYers who’d prefer to surface mount a set of hinges quickly rather than spend time chiseling and chipping away at a mortise should check out Everbilt’s Non-Mortise Hinges. These hinges come in a two-pack of solid-steel hinges that nest inside each other, allowing installers to forgo the mortising.
These hinges are light duty, meaning they’re suitable for hollow-core doors only. They measure 3 inches long by 3 inches wide by 1.25 inches deep. They feature rounded corners and a removable pin, and they come in a satin-nickel finish. They also include all the hardware necessary to mount them to the door and frame.
Get the Everbilt door hinges at The Home Depot.
Folks who are looking to replace their interior hinges but worry about finding a quality replacement for their solid-core or wooden doors might want to look to Gatehouse. This set of hinges includes three steel butt hinges that fit in 3.5-inch mortises, offering plenty of strength for medium-duty applications.
These butt hinges feature a .625-inch rounded radius, allowing them to nestle into common hinge mortises. They also include a removable pin to make installation a bit easier. They come in a satin-nickel finish and they’re made from heavy-gauge steel for plenty of strength. They may be a bit expensive, however, for replacing the entire home’s hinges one pack at a time.
Get the Gatehouse door hinges at Lowe’s.
When it comes to getting plenty of strength from a set of hinges, Dynasty Hardware’s commercial-grade hinges might be the way to go. These hinges are 4.5 inches long and each leaf features four screw holes, giving these hinges the surface area and hardware necessary to swing heavy solid wood and fire doors.
This kit comes with three stainless steel hinges. They have ball bearings between the leaves, and the pin is nonremovable. The square design also provides more weight distribution in the mortise.
These hinges come with machine screws, which will only work for metal door jambs, also known as bucks. Users would need to supply their own heavy-duty wood screws for wood jambs.
Get the Dynasty Hardware door hinges on Amazon.
When those old entryway hinges need replacing, a sturdy set like this one from KS Hardware might be in order. These hinges feature durable stainless steel construction on all parts, including the leaves, pin, bearings, and screws to install them. The ball bearings between the leaves allow for free movement, even in severe temperature changes or moisture.
Three mortise-style hinges are in a pack. They each measure 4 inches long and have a square leaf as well as a rounded leaf, each with four screw holes. They are a bit expensive, but they’re unlikely to require replacement for many, many years.
Get the KS Hardware door hinges on Amazon.
Fire code requires a self-closing hinge on doors between the garage and home, and this model from Amazon Basics can get the job done. This 3-inch hinge features a mortise design that comes in oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass, and satin nickel, allowing users to find a hinge that matches their home’s styling. It’s also built from durable steel.
Unfortunately, this self-closing mortise hinge is only sold individually. However, it’s strong enough to allow users to replace just one hinge to meet the fire code. The spring inside the hinge is adjustable as well, making tailoring this hinge to meet the needs of individual garage spaces easier. And, since it’s UL listed, it should meet any requirements the local fire marshal requests.
Get the Amazon Basics self-closing door hinge on Amazon.
Folks looking for an all-around capable set of hinges that can replace most of their current interior sets should consider the Amazon Basics 3.5-by-3.5-inch door hinges for their durability, profile, and finish options. But, for DIYers who’d like to take some time off with an easy door installation, check out the non-mortise Everbilt door hinges.
We drew upon many years of experience installing doors and hinges to pick out the features, styles, and sizes we thought were most useful for the average DIYer. We then used those specs to perform extensive product research and compiled a list of products we felt would meet our needs.
Once we had our list of candidates, we compared price, quality, and durability. Those that failed or didn’t offer enough value were put aside. The hinges that passed were given awards based on their strengths.
When it comes to replacing hinges, do so one at a time. Leave the pins and hinges in place, and simply remove the screws holding the leaves in place. When it comes to replacing the top hinge, it may be necessary to shim the door up off the floor slightly.
When installing a new door in an existing opening, use the old door as a template to locate the hinges. Lay the new door flat on a set of sawhorses and carefully place the old door on top. Align the hinge sides as best as possible and use a combination square to transfer the edges of the hinge locations to the new door.
There are two ways to cut mortises: with a jig and router, or with a chisel. The jig and router may be expensive, but they’ll do the job faster and much more accurately than the average DIYer can do with a chisel and hammer.
That’s a lot of information on the best door hinges, but we’re certainly not shutting the door on answering questions.
It depends on the situation, the door, and the home’s styling. A tried-and-true all-purpose hinge would be a steel 3.5-inch mortise hinge with rounded corners.
Lightweight hollow-core doors can get away with two hinges. All other doors should use three hinges.
It depends on the door, but some hinges may be able to hold up to 400 pounds.
It depends on the craftsperson, but expect to pay an hourly minimum rather than a cost per door. Professional installers can place hinges on a new door in under an hour, but they’ll likely charge their minimum cost to make it worth their time.
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