A guide to butt hinges

Black industrial butt hinges

Different hinge types cater to different applications. In this guide we focus on butt hinges. You can read about: 

Discover our Butt & Leaf Hinges

What is a butt hinge?

Butt hinges are the most commonly used hinge as door hinges. The door hinge comes in different types and various finishes, but they can typically be defined as hinges made up of two matching leaves connected by a joint of some kind. This joint traditionally holds a pin.

How do butt hinges work?

One leaf is attached to a fixed component, such as a door and the other leaf is attached to a stationary part, such as a door jamb. Typically, butt hinges are six inches or shorter door hinges. When closed, the leaves will remain flush with each other, exposing the curled barrel, often called the knuckle. Entry doors aren’t the only application for these hinges; cabinet butt hinges are also common. Butt hinges come in metals and even plastic butt hinges are available. You can learn more about hinge materials in our guide Types of hinges and where to use them.

Butt hinges often, but not always, sit flush when installed, while other hinges sit on top of the surface. A recess is cut out of the door and the jamb. The two leaves of a butt hinge are then installed into these recessed spaces. Heavy duty butt hinges typically feature a larger knuckle and can accommodate heavier objects than other hinge types.

Anatomy of a butt hinge

Let’s get to know the different parts of a butt hinge. These areas aren’t exclusive to butt hinges, but all types of hinges.

Hinge diagram

Leaf: The flat part of the hinge affixed to surfaces.

Knuckle: Circular, rolled part of the hinge that encases the pin. Also called the barrel. Butt hinges with pins are common, but not the only component used.

Pitch: The distance between the side of a knuckle to the same edge of its adjacent knuckle. This measurement corresponds to the hinge’s strength as it relates to common wear and stressors.

Leaf width: The dimension measured from the center of the pin to the outer edge of the leaf, opposite the knuckle.

Leaf length: Also called leaf height and measured parallel to the pin.

Leaf thickness: Also called the gauge.

Paint clearance: The space between the leaf and the knuckle. If painting your hinges, the paint clearance allows the hinge to open and close without scraping the paint off the knuckle.

Butt hinge on industrial door

Types of butt hinges

Butt hinges include these types:

Ball bearing butt hinge: Ball bearing hinges are durable and long lasting. Instead of a pin, these butt hinges contain small, greased ball bearings. For heavy doors, these should always be your first choice for the job. They operate smoothly, so they’re also ideal for doors that see frequent use.

Spring butt hinge: Spring-loaded, these are also known as self-closing butt hinges. They contain a spring that automatically closes a door. These are ideal for cabinets or screen doors.

Rising butt hinges: Designed for uneven or carpeted floors. When closed, these look like typical butt hinges. Open the door and the hinge rises about half an inch to clear the floor. Stainless-steel rising butt hinges are always a good choice.

Plain butt hinges: These suit lighter-weight interior doors. Uses a pin, which is sometimes removable, to join the leaves together.

However, butt hinges are not limited with those above. You can also consider heavy duty butt hinges for special applications.  

Now let’s look at specific butt hinges:

​Torque hinge


Torque hinge

Adjustable torque position control hinges hold doors or panels in position. This range is surfaced mounted with up to a 270-degree rotation. Detent torque hinges are also part of this range, with 80-, 110-, and 150-degree rotation. Adjustable torque hinges are suitable for generators, machinery covers and electric panels. Available in black-coated, 30% glass-filled nylon with a stainless-steel pin.

Countersunk mount leaf butt hinge


Countersunk mount leaf butt hinge

Designed for flush-mounted doors with countersunk mounting holes. This range offers a maximum rotation of 270 degrees and comes in different styles. Available in steel with a black coated finish or in die-cast zinc alloy.

Leaf hinge – threaded stud mount


Leaf hinge – threaded stud mount

For flush-mounted doors with threaded stud installations. Die-cast zinc alloy with a maximum rotation of 270 degrees.

​Leaf hinges – half-threaded stud and half countersunk


Leaf hinges – half-threaded stud and half countersunk

Half countersunk mounting holes on one side of the component and half-threaded studs on the other. Made of die-cast zinc alloy, these are ideal for flush-mounted doors and have a maximum rotation of 270 degrees.



Lift-joint butt hinge

Lift-off hinges make it easy to remove doors quickly and easily. Ideal if large deliveries are frequent, necessitating removal of the door. One leaf is male, which involves a pin and is attached to the door. The other leaf is female, has no pin, and is attached to the door jamb. Available in stainless steel and steel with either a zinc-plated or black powder coated finish, with a rotation angle of 180 degrees.

Leaf spring hinge

Leaf spring hinge

Spring hinges, also known as spring loaded hinges or self-closing hinges, are fitted with a spring mechanism. This enables doors to automatically close from an opened position. They’re adjustable and come in a range of leaf thickness. Available in stainless steel and steel, die-cast zinc alloy and aluminum.

How many butt hinges do you need?

This will depend on the size of your door. You’ll also need hinges correctly sized, so we recommend you read our guide, How to size hinges. Here, we’ll cover the number of hinges you need for your door.

  1. The height of the door is used to determine how many butt hinges you need.
  2. In general, you'll want to use one hinge for every 30 inches of door height. For example:
  • Use two hinges for doors up to 60 inches tall
  • Use three butt hinges if the door is between 60 and 90 inches tall
  • For doors between 90 inches and 120 inches, use four hinges

If your door is between 37 inches and 120 inches wide, installing an extra hinge will supply added strength to support the additional weight and tension being applied to the frame. You could potentially end up with five butt hinges.

Download free CADs and try before you buy

Free CADs are available for most solutions, which you can download. You might also need fasteners to secure your hinge. You can also request free samples (some exclusions apply) to make sure you’ve chosen the right product for what you need.  Same day dispatch for sample requests received by 4pm. 

You might also find these guides helpful:

Access Hardware – the design engineer’s guide

How to choose the right hinges for your enclosures

Ultimate guide to access hardware

If you’re not quite sure which product will work best our experts are always happy to advise you. Whatever your requirements, you can depend on fast despatch. Request your free samples or download free CADs now.


Email us at sales@essentracomponents.com or speak to one of our experts for further information on the ideal solution for your application 800-847-0486.