For many kitchen and bath shoppers, cabinet door hinges are the last thing they think about – if they think about them at all. Many modern cabinet lines feature totally concealed hinges, giving the cabinet doors a very clean and uncluttered look. But just because they may be out of sight does not mean they should be out of mind. Typical concealed door hinges will come in two varieties:
In the most basic version, door hinges may not be adjustable. Although this may seem trivial, it truly is not. As your home and cabinets settle over time, your doors will likely shift just enough to move out of alignment. With a fixed-position hinge, minor adjustments to correct alignment problems are virtually impossible.
Adjustable hinges should be found in all but the most basic entry-level cabinet lines. Although these may look like a basic hinge, the key difference is one or more adjustment screws on the hinge that allow you to correct minor alignment issues with a simple turn of a screwdriver. If adjustable hinges are not standard on the cabinets you are considering, you should select them as an upgrade. Adjustable hinges are well worth the slight difference in price.
There are also a number of specialty hinges you might find in any kitchen. These are just a few of the more common and their typical use.
- Piano Hinge – Used almost exclusively on bi-fold doors found on some corner base cabinets to allow more complete access or when a Lazy Susan is included.
- Inset Hinge – An inset hinge is made specifically for an inset door. Most cabinet doors rest on the face frame, but inset doors are cut to fit inside the frame. This tight fit requires a special type of hinge to allow them to open without binding.
- Knife Hinge – Primarily a decorative hinge in which a small portion of the hinge is exposed when the door is closed. Because these hinges are difficult to install, they will often be considerably more expensive than other hinge types.
- Barrel Hinge – Primarily a decorative hinge in which the center barrel of the hinge is exposed when the door is closed.
No discussion of hinges would be complete without mentioning the soft-close option. Most cabinet lines will offer this as an upgrade, although some mid-range and higher lines have begun to offer this as a standard feature. When paired with soft-close drawers, you can have a remarkably quiet kitchen ideal for open floor plans.