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Types of hinges and where to use them

clock 2 minutes | 09 Apr 2018

Display of different hinge styles and materials

Hinges come in a wide range of styles, so you need to know how to choose the right one. First, that depends on the type of door that needs the hinge.

That’s an important point, as often issues with doors can be blamed on the wrong hinge being used. If your door is heavy, look at heavy door hinges types, for example. Doors, however, aren’t the only application for hinges, which is why you’ll also find different types of cabinet hinges.

An outdoor telecom equipment cabinet needs hinges. So does an outdoor utility cabinet, a rack mount cabinet, a data center server cabinet, an outdoor electrical junction box – hinges are also an HVAC system component.

Hinges are either right or left and come in different materials. You can use a hinge that will be visible or concealed. The point is, you have a lot of choices. To help you determine which type you need, here are some common hinges and how they’re used.

Types of hinges:

Corner hinges

These are typically used on metal cabinets and machine covers and sit flush to the surface. To prevent tampering, they’re mounted internally, though external metal corner hinges - usually used on machines – are an exception. Corner hinges contain a pin that you can take out when the door is open. This, in turn, allows you to remove the door for maintenance or access.

Lift-off hinges

Think of heavy doors in frequent use. For applications like this, you want lift-off hinges that simplify the removal of doors to parts of HVAC system or industrial generator parts, when you need easy access to maintenance and repair. These are also known as door-removal hinges. Stainless steel lift off hinges, in particular, will give you a long service life.

Offset hinges

A 90-degree offset corner hinge is an example. Offset hinges help when manoeuvring through narrow doorways. With offset hinges, also known as swing-clear hinges, you can open the door so that it’s out of the way, giving you complete access to the entire width of the doorway. Without them, you’d need to create a larger opening and install a larger door.

Piano hinges

Also known as continuous hinges, they distribute weight and minimise stress on the door or cabinet. Piano hinges are great for doors and cabinets that are constantly being opened and closed, and subject to intense wear and tear. Piano hinge sizes vary, so you should have no problem finding what you need.

Butt hinges

Concealed mounting screws prevent external access to the hinge, making it ideal when security matters. Also called leaf hinges, they suit plain/flush-mounted doors and left- and right-handed applications.

Concealed hinges

Concealed cabinet hinges types are widely used. These are installed inside enclosures such as an outdoor telecom equipment cabinet to stop anyone from tampering with them from the outside. Aesthetically, concealed hinges provide a minimalist look and feel by not showing any hardware.

Side hinges

Another high-security option, ideal for NEMA electrical enclosures or a wall mount rack enclosure server cabinet, or anything that presents awkward space. These also work well when a standard hinge can’t give you the opening that you need.

Weld-on hinges

If your application is permanent and not to be tampered with, opt for weld-on hinges. Their life span is longer than screw-on door hinges. The designs are simple, and you can use them on different types of materials. There’s also the added bonus that they’re non-obtrusive and can be painted to match the metal surface to which they’re applied. Ideal applications include vault doors, armored vehicles, fire doors, shipping containers and construction projects.

What about hinge materials?

The constant opening of doors and cabinets wear hinges down. Environmental factors can also affect hinges. Choosing the right material for your hinge helps prolong its life. For instance, stainless steel hinges resist rust – an important factor if your application is near the ocean or will be exposed to the outdoors – and have the strength to bear heavy doors. However, stainless steel doesn’t take to coating materials, so it’s more common to use this material for hidden hinges.

Hinges are made in a wide variety of materials with different properties. The one you choose depends on your application. For instance, brass vs steel piano hinge? Brass is a good option when appearance matters, while steel is stronger.

Aluminium, for instance, is ideal for automotive applications due to its lightweight characteristics, while stainless steel is perfect for pharmaceutical, kitchens and hospitals, as it’s easy to maintain and keep clean. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a plastic with a low melting point and high resistance to most chemicals, so it’s typically used on indoor protective housings.

Typical hinge materials

Galvanized Steel Stainless Steel ABS Aluminum Nylon Die Cast Zinc
Strength X X X X
Corrosion Resistant X X X X
Heat Resistant X
Impact Resistant X
Durability X X X X
Lightweight X
Easy maintenance X
Low-temperature Resistant X

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