If you’re buying ready-to-assemble or stock cabinets, you may have no choice about the hinges they come with - which is all the more reason you should consider their hinges carefully before taking the plunge. When you’re visiting the showrooms, spend some time opening and closing the cabinet doors to see if the hinges are strong enough to support the door’s weight. See if they’re installed straight - if the cabinets have pre-drilled holes for the hinges’ screws and they’re out of line, the doors won’t hang correctly. (If you love the cabinets but hate the hinges - either because you don’t like the look or don’t think they’re sturdy enough - this isn’t necessarily a fatal problem; it may well be possible to have your contractor replace the offending hardware with something more to your taste. However, before you go down this path, have a candid conversation with your building pro about how much it’ll add to your costs - suddenly those bargain cabinets might not be such a bargain.)
With custom and semi-custom cabinets, you’ll have a number of options from the kitchen cabinet manufacturers, with different hinges designed to harmonize with the colors, styles and finishes of the knobs and pulls. And then there’s an infinite variety of options available from individual artisans and specialty shops. Some hinges are made to be seen - many traditional, country or Craftsman styles cry out for ornamental hinges in H or butterfly shapes on the exterior of the doors and frames. At the other end of the spectrum, frameless cabinets, especially sleek modern styles, demand invisible “European” hinges, which are contained entirely within the cabinet’s interior. (European hinges also have the advantage of being much sturdier and supporting more weight than their more ornamental counterparts, which may make them worth considering even in traditional settings.)
Talk with your contractor about whether the number of hinges on each door is sufficient to support its weight (which may depend somewhat on the materials you choose - a thick oak door is going to weigh a lot more than one of laminated fiberboard). Experts advise that it’s much better to spend a little more up front to have extra hinges installed than to live with sagging doors pulling off their frames due to lack of support. At the same time, make sure the hinges you’re going to be using work well with the door and frame materials; some, for example, are designed specifically for fiberboard and other engineered wood products, while others work best with solid woods like cherry or oak.
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