Kitchen cabinet cup hinge with Walnut and Maple cabinet.

Upgrade Your Cabinets with the Perfect Hinges: A Comprehensive Guide to the Different Types of Cabinet Hinges

If you’re planning to install new cabinets or update your old ones, you’ll need to consider the type of cabinet hinges to use. Cabinet hinges are an essential components of cabinets that allow doors to open and close smoothly. They also provide support and stability to the doors, ensuring they remain in place when closed. There are different types of cabinet hinges available, and selecting the right one can make a significant difference in the functionality and appearance of your cabinets. This applies to kitchen cabinets, as well as office furniture, built-ins and any other cabinet with door.

Understanding the various types of cabinet hinges can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner. However, it’s crucial to know the different types of cabinet hinges to make an informed decision when selecting one. In this article, we’ll explore the various types of cabinet hinges and their features. We’ll also highlight their advantages and disadvantages to help you choose the right hinge for your cabinets. If still in doubt, you’ll now be able to look through examples of cabinets similar to your own and have a better understanding of why they chose the hinges they did.

Let’s go through the different options:

Overlay Hinges

Overlay hinges are one of the most popular types of cabinet hinges. I use these hinges to allow the cabinet door to overlap the cabinet frame or face frame. The amount of overlap is known as the “overlay,” and there are different types of overlay hinges available, including:

  • Full overlay hinges: With full overlay hinges, the cabinet door completely covers the cabinet frame or face frame, leaving little or no gap between the door and the cabinet. These hinges are ideal for modern or contemporary cabinet designs.
  • Half overlay hinges: Half overlay hinges are designed to allow the cabinet door to overlap the cabinet frame or face frame by about half an inch. These hinges are ideal for traditional or classic cabinet designs.
  • Inset hinges: Inset hinges are designed to be installed inside the cabinet frame or face frame, so the cabinet door sits flush with the frame when closed. These hinges are ideal for high-end or custom cabinet designs.

Overlay hinges

Overlay hinges come in different sizes, finishes, and materials. When you’re choosing overlay hinges, it’s essential to consider the size and weight of the cabinet doors, the style of the cabinets, and the overall design of the room. It’s also important that you choose high-quality hinges that are durable and long-lasting.

Overall, overlay hinges are an excellent choice for most cabinet designs. I find them easy to install, versatile, and I like that they come in a wide range of styles and finishes. Whether I’m building new cabinets or updating existing ones, overlay hinges can help me achieve the look and functionality I’m going for.

Inset Cabinet Hinges

Inset hinges are a popular choice for cabinet doors that have a face frame. These types of hinges are designed to be installed inside the cabinet frame and door so that they are not visible when the door is closed. This creates a clean and streamlined look for the cabinet. I haven’t used these often, but you often see them on older vintage kitchens and furniture.

Inset hinges are available in full inset and partial inset options. Full inset hinges are designed to be installed so that the door sits flush with the cabinet frame. Partial inset hinges, on the other hand, are designed to be installed so that the door sits partially inside the cabinet frame. This creates a small gap between the door and the frame, which can be used to add decorative elements such as beading or molding.

DecoBasics 3/8" Inset Cabinet Hinges Brushed Nickel (25 Pair -50 Pcs) Offset Self Closing Cabinet Hinges for Kitchen Cabinets Satin Nickel w/Silicon Bumpers & Upgraded Screws

Decorative Inset Hinge

One thing to keep in mind when choosing inset hinges is that they require a precise installation. The door and frame must be perfectly aligned for the hinge to work properly. This can be challenging if you’re a DIYers, so it may be best to hire a professional to install the hinges. Or take it as an opportunity to challenge yourself!

European Cabinet Hinges

European hinges, also known as Blum, Grass or cup hinges, are modern, high-tech hinges commonly used in kitchen and commercial cabinets. These hinges are designed to be concealed when the cabinet door is closed, providing a sleek and clean look. These are popular among homeowners and designers because they are easy to install and adjust, and they offer a wide range of opening angles. If building a new set of kitchen cabinets, I would always use this type of hinge, unless the design aesthetic called for something different.

There are two main types of European hinges: full overlay and half overlay. Full overlay hinges are used when the cabinet door is larger than the opening, and the door completely covers the cabinet frame. Half overlay hinges are used when the door is smaller than the opening, and the door covers only half of the cabinet frame. Both types of hinges are common in modern cabinets, depending on that layout of the cabinets and doors.

Furniware 10 Pack Soft Close Cabinet Hinges, for 1/2" Partial Overlay Cupboard Hinges for Face Frame Cabinet,105° Open Angle Cabinet Hinges with Mounting Screws and Manual

Typical Euro Cup Hinge

European hinges come in different sizes and shapes to fit different cabinet styles and weight capacities. They are made of high-quality materials, such as steel, zinc, or brass, and they are available in various finishes, such as nickel, chrome, or bronze. Some of the most popular types of European hinges include:

  • Concealed hinges: These hinges are hidden inside the cabinet and provide a clean and modern look.
  • Self-closing hinges: These hinges are designed to close the cabinet door automatically when it is pushed to a certain point.
  • Soft-closing hinges: These hinges are similar to self-closing hinges, but they close the door slowly and gently, preventing slamming and reducing noise.
  • Clip-on hinges: These hinges are easy to install and remove, and they are ideal for cabinets that need to be disassembled frequently.

While most modern European hinges are available with both sels-closing and soft-closing mechanisms integrated, there are also options available for adding soft-closing mechanisms separately. These mechanisms can be added directly to the cup hinge, as shown below, or as a separate unit elsewhere along the edge of the cabinet frame.

(8 PCS) Blum BLUMOTION 973A0500 Soft and Effortless Self Closing Mechanism for Full Overlay Hinge Application, Made in Austria, Kitchen Hinge Damper, Cabinet Door Soft Close Hinge Buffer

When selecting European hinges for your cabinet, consider the weight and size of the door, the type of cabinet, and the style and finish of the hinge. Consult with a hardware specialist or a designer to ensure that you choose the right hinge for your project.

Butt Hinges

Butt hinges are commonly used on simple boxes and cabinets. They are similar in design to a common gate hinge or box hinge. They have two rectangular leaves with knuckles in the middle, joined together by a metal pin (Hinge pin). These hinges can be found in a variety of sizes and finishes, making them a versatile option for any project. There are many options available in steel, brass and antique finishes.

One type of butt hinge is the plain bearing butt hinge, which is the standard choice for interior doors. These types of hinges have a simple design and are easy to install. It consists of two leaves, each with a hole for a pin, and a knuckle that connects the two leaves. Plain bearing butt hinges are durable and reliable, making them a popular choice for many applications. They can be cheap and simple, but they can also come in very precise and elegent finishes for high-end cabinetry and furniture. Horton Brass, Inc. makes some of the finest hinges on the market today.

Another type of butt hinge is the spring-loaded butt hinge. These hinges are used to ensure that a door closes behind you. They can be calibrated to open or close with varying degrees of tension, depending on the application. Spring-loaded butt hinges are often used on screen doors, gates and other exterior applications where a self-closing hinge is desired.

Liyafy 1.5 Inch Butt Hinges for Cupboard Cabinet Home Furniture Hardware Door Folding Butt Hinge Copper Tone 4 Pcs

Standard Butt Hinge

For applications where a mortise is not desired, no-mortise hinges are a good option. These hinges are a style of butt hinge that minimizes the gap between the edge of the door and the cabinet. They accomplish this by folding within themselves when closed, eliminating the need for a mortise in the door or cabinet. While they don’t fully conceal the hinge below the surface, they do reduce the needed gap by half.

Biaungdo Non-Mortise Door Hinges, 6 Pcs 2 inch x 1 inch Bifold Butt Cabinet Hinges Vintage Furniture Hardware Antique Door Hinge with Screws for Door, Windows, Cabinet, Cupboard(White Nickel)

No-Mortise Butt Hinge

When choosing a butt hinge for your project, consider the size and weight of the door, as well as the finish of the hinge. It’s important to choose a hinge that is strong enough to support the weight of the door, and that matches the overall aesthetic of the project. While butt hinges were quite popular in pre-war era furniture, European-style hinges began taking over in the 60’s and 70’s, while butt hinges remain a lower cost alternative for simpler construction, at least in the area of kitchen hardware.

Wrap-Around Hinges

Wrap-around hinges are a popular type of cabinet hinge that feature a leaf that wraps around the frame of the cabinet. This provides extra stability and support for the door, making it a great choice for heavy or large cabinet doors. There are two types of wrap-around hinges: partial wrap and full wrap.

Partial wrap hinges touch two sides of the frame, while full wrap hinges touch three sides. Partial wrap hinges are ideal for cabinets that have a face frame, while full wrap hinges work best for frameless cabinets.

When choosing a wrap-around hinge, it’s important to consider the overlay of the door. The overlay refers to how much the door covers the frame of the cabinet. Most wrap-around hinges are designed for a 1/2″ overlay, but there are also options available for larger or smaller overlays.

DecoBasics 1/2" Overlay Full Wrap Cabinet Hinges for Kitchen (25 Pair /50 Pcs) -Satin Brushed Nickel Full Wrap Around Self Closing Cabinet Hinges

Brushed Nickel Full Wrap Hinge

One popular brand of wrap-around hinges is Sugatsune. They make a wide array of architectural hardware for the residential, commercial and industrial markets. Sugatsune designs wrap-around hinges that feature long leaves that wrap around the edge of a cabinet face or side panel. These hinges are suitable for overlay doors and come in a variety of finishes and sizes to fit any cabinet style.

Overall, wrap-around hinges are a great choice for cabinets that require extra support and stability for heavy or large doors. They come in a variety of styles and finishes to match any cabinet design, making them a versatile option for any cabinet project.

Knife Hinges

Knife hinges, also known as pivot hinges, are commonly found in wall cabinets or fine furniture. They are named for their resemblance to the blades of a pair of scissors, with to blades, or leaves, attached at a pivot point. The hinge has two leaves, one mortised into the end of the cabinet door and the other into the cabinet itself. By mortising the hinges in the the cabinet, once installed, all that is exposed is the pivot. This type of hinge was commonly used by James Krenov in  his famous wall cabinets and ‘Cabinet on a stand‘ designs.

4Pcs 2.5inch Pivot Hinges Offset Knife Hinges Inset Door Stainless Steel 360 Degree Rotating Hinges Set for Door Cabinet Cupboard (4, 2.5), Silver

There are two types of knife hinges: straight and offset. Straight knife hinges are used on doors that overlay a frame, as show in the image above. Offset knife hinges are L-shaped and are used with inset cabinet doors. To install knife hinges, it is best to  cut mortises in the door and the cabinet for the leaves so that the edges of the hinges aren’t visible with the doors closed.

Knife hinges are a great option for inset cabinet doors because they are hidden from view when the door is closed. They also provide a smooth, quiet operation when opening and closing the door. However, they do require a bit more work to install compared to other types of hinges. They also provide the ability to offset the pivot points without the hinges binding when building a cabinet with unusually-shaped doors.

Piano Hinges

Piano hinges, also known as continuous hinges, are long and narrow hinges that run the entire length of a door or lid. From their name, you will often find these hinges on the key lid and fallboard of a piano. They are designed to distribute weight evenly and are commonly used for heavy-duty applications, such as on pianos, toolboxes, and industrial cabinets. They are also used for doors that need to be opened and closed frequently, such as on RVs and boats. Their strength comes from that fact that the stress is distributed over many knuckles as well as many fasteners.

Piano hinges are made of various materials, including aluminum, brass, and stainless steel. They can be found in a variety of finishes and sizes to fit specific needs. They are easy to install and require minimal maintenance. One challenge with piano hinges is that if the case or door become warped, or the cabinet goes out of square, a piano hinge with tend to bind more than individual hinges.

4Pack Heavy Duty Piano Hinge, 2" Open Width x 16" Continuous & Piano Hinges, 0.06” Thick Stainless Steel Piano Hinge with Holes, Black Stainless Furniture Hinges for Cabinet Door Cases Woodworking

Common Piano Hinge, Black

One of the benefits of piano hinges is their durability. They are designed to withstand heavy loads and frequent use, making them ideal for industrial applications. They also provide a clean and streamlined look, as they are hidden from view when the door or lid is closed.

When selecting a piano hinge, it is important to consider the weight and size of the door or lid. It is also important to ensure that the hinge is made of a durable material that can withstand the intended use. For heavy-duty applications, stainless steel piano hinges are recommended, as they are strong and resistant to corrosion. Typically the come if fixed lengths, but it is easy to cut them to the precise length you need.


Cabinet hinges are in important part of the ergonomics and aesthetics of cabinets. From butt hinges to European hinges, different types of hinges have their own unique features and benefits. For instance, concealed hinges offer a sleek and modern look while butt hinges are robust and durable. It’s essential to consider factors such as cabinet style, door weight, and installation method when choosing the right hinge for your cabinet.

When shopping for cabinet hinges, be sure to consider factors such as quality, durability, adjustability and compatibility with your current or desired cabinet doors. Investing in high-quality hinges can save you money in the long run by reducing the need for frequent repairs and replacements. Equally important is that your hinges are properly installed using the correct methods and fasteners.

Choosing the right type of hinge can transform the look and feel of your cabinets while improving their functionality. I hope this guide has proved helpful in selecting the right type of cabinet hinge for your next project!

Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek professional help when installing or replacing cabinet hinges. A skilled installer can ensure that your hinges are correctly installed, improving their functionality and lifespan. With the right hinges, you can transform your cabinets into functional and stylish storage solutions for your kitchen or office.


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