How to Measure Cabinet Openings, Add Overlay, Install Hinges, & Align Cabinet Doors

Posted by Jim Hill on Aug 23rd 2021

At Cabinetdoors.com, we often hear from folks who want to transform their kitchens, baths, and homes with beautiful new cabinet doors but don’t know how to begin. As one of the largest online retail providers for custom kitchen cabinet doors, we understand that the process might feel a little overwhelming when you first start researching. Buying and installing your own replacement cabinet doors can certainly save you a lot of money, but can you install them properly on your own?

Rest assured, Cabinetdoors.com makes it all as easy as possible for you to complete the work on your own. We manufacture high quality cabinet doors that are ready for installation as soon as we deliver them from our factory to your door. The process is a lot easier than you might think, but to help, we’ve put together this easy, four-part video to help walk you through the process each step of the way.

Here’s what you’ll learn from this video and the accompanying blog below:

  • Part 1: We’ll explain the concept of overlays, and show you the correct method for measuring cabinet openings. We’ll also show you how to calculate the sizes needed for a ½” overlay, whether for a single door, or two side-by-side doors covering the same opening.
  • Part 2: You’ll learn how to install hinges on cabinet doors. We’ll take the mystery out of drilling pilot holes for your cabinet doors and explain how to easily install the Blum clip-top hinges.
  • Part 3: Learn the simple process of how to hang cabinet doors and attach your doors to the frame with Blum hinges and the face plate.
  • Part 4: Find out how to align cabinet doors perfectly using the built-in hinge adjustments. We’ll also show you how to outfit the doors with our sound-suppressing rubber bumpers.

You’ll be surprised how easy this process actually is once it’s broken down into a few simple steps. Take your time, follow each step, and you’ll have brand new cabinet doors installed in no time.

YOU CAN DO THIS. Now, let’s get started!

Part 1: How to Measure Openings for Cabinet Doors

We’ll use a sample face-frame in this exercise to show you how to take accurate measurements, and an animation will illustrate how the cabinet doors will “overlay” the opening. We’ll also show the formula for calculating the size of either a single door or double doors needed for that opening.

Step 1: Measure the width and height of the cabinet opening.

Let’s start with a single door. As the video shows with our sample face-frame, the opening width is 11 inches and the height is 13-inches. The most common cabinet design has the doors slightly larger than the opening. This is called the overlay, and the most common overlay is ½ inch. ½ inch overlay means the door is larger, or overlays the opening at the top, bottom, left, and right by ½ inch.

Step 2: Calculate the size of doors needed for a ½” overlay.

The animation shows the outline of a single door, sized to fit this opening. Notice the ½ inch overlay. The formula for calculating the size of a ½ inch overlay door is shown:

  • Door width = opening width + ½ inch + ½ inch
  • Door height = opening height + ½ inch + ½ inch

Now we’ll show the outlines of double doors, properly sized to cover our sample opening. Double doors only overlay the face frame on three sides, instead of all four sides, as with single doors. The formula for double doors is also shown.

  • Double door width = (opening width + ½ inch + ½ inch) divide by 2, then subtract 1/16” (.063) from each width
  • Double door height = opening height + ½ inch + ½ inch

Notice that the double door formula subtracts 1/16 inch from the calculated width of each double door. This is necessary to prevent double doors from touching in the center when high humidity conditions may have caused the doors to slightly expand. This will give you a ⅛” gap between the two doors.

Although ½ inch overlay is the most common, other overlays may be encountered. If the cabinet doors you are replacing have a different overlay, like ⅝ inch or 1 ½” inch, the formulas will still work for correctly sizing your new cabinet doors. Just replace the ½ inch in the formula with the overlay you intend to use.

Now that you can see how easy it really is to determine the exact sizes of each of your new cabinet doors, you won’t need to pay to have the big box stores take the measurements for you. You also won’t have to pay the big box prices for your replacement cabinet doors. Next up, how to install hinges on cabinet doors.

Part 2: How to Install Hinges on Cabinet Doors

Once you have calculated the right sized cabinet doors to order, it’s important to make sure you also order the right hinges, too. Concealed hinges are offered in different sized models to accommodate different overlays, so the correct hinge must be ordered based on your overlay.

At Cabinetdoors.com, we carry top quality, self-closing Blum hinges that help your cabinet doors close smoothly and quietly. We’re also able to drill the hinge pockets in your new doors for you so that you have less to think about when it’s time to learn how to install hinges on cabinet doors. When you order your new cabinet doors with hinge-cup boring and Blum Inserta Hinges, your doors will be delivered with the holes bored in the proper locations and to the exact depth needed, so there’s no need to learn how to measure face-mount hinge boring.

The hinge itself is self-aligning and is installed on the doors (or removed) without the need for any tools. The hinge mounting plates will be attached to your cabinet face frame with two #7 x 5/8 inch Phillips wood screws, which are supplied. Our hinges will come to you complete with the mounting plates and all screws needed for mounting. Now it’s time to learn how to install overlay cabinet hinges.

Step 1: Attach the mounting plate to the hinge.

This is one of those cases where watching the video above is worth a thousand words, because seeing the process is extremely helpful.

While watching the video demonstration, look at your hinge and notice the small bar near the hinge pivot mechanism. This bar will locate the mounting plate groove into its forward position. Also notice the rocker-latch at the end of the hinge. This rocker will lock the other end of the mounting plate into the hinge. Slide the mounting plate into the hinge and rotate the plate down toward the rocker-latch. Apply a little pressure and the rocker-latch will open allowing the mounting plate to snap into its attached position. The hinge and mounting plate can be easily separated by pressing the rocker-latch and pulling the mounting plate away.

Step 2: Mount the hinge to your cabinet door.

Assuming you’ve opted to have your hinge pockets drilled for you, notice that your doors have three holes bored for each hinge. The large hole is the hinge cup. It’s 35mm in diameter (about 1 ⅜ inches). The two smaller holes you’ll see ensure perfect hinge alignment. 8mm inserts can be used if the hinges you have bought need to be screwed into the door.

The hinge base is inserted into the large hole, or hinge cup, by lifting the locking flange. Once the hinge base is fitted into the hinge cup, rotate the hinge until the indentations drop into the small alignment holes, then push the locking flange down. The hinge is now properly aligned and securely locked into the door. No screws are needed to secure the hinge into the hinge cups. The locking flange secures the hinges on its own and ensures perfect alignment. See the video example to see this process demonstrated for you.

From here, you’re ready to attach the mounting plates to the cabinets and hang your doors.

Part 3: How to Hang Cabinet Doors With Overlay Hinges

Now that the hinges, with mounting plates, are attached to the cabinet doors, you’re ready to mount the doors to the cabinets. Follow these steps to learn how to hang cabinet doors properly so you can feel confident in your installation.

Step 1: Measure out your overlay to ensure proper alignment.

The first step is to attach a straightedge or draw a line below the cabinet opening to mark your overlay. For ½ inch overlay doors this line will be ½ inch below the opening, as shown in our example. For overlays other than ½ inch, the line will be located below the opening by the overlay you are using. In the video demonstration above, we’ve used the straightedge method as it helps make alignment easy since you can simply sit the cabinet door (with hinge and mounting-plate attached) on the straightedge. Sitting the door on the straightedge, ensure that all doors are properly aligned on the face-frame and the overlay is equal at both the top and bottom.

Step 2: Align the door and hinges.

Next, align the door as shown in the video so the hinge mounting brackets are against the edge of the cabinet face-frame. With a pencil, mark the cabinet’s face-frame through the elongated slots in the mounting brackets. These elongated marks are where you will drill the pilot holes for the screws that will attach the mounting plates to your cabinets. Drill the pilot holes in the center of the elongated marks you made. After you have drilled the pilot holes, you’ll only need a number 2 Phillips screwdriver to loosely attach the mounting plates to the face-frames of your cabinets.

Step 3: Attach the doors to the mounting plates.

With the mounting plates attached to the cabinet face-frames, the doors (with the Blum hinges installed) are snapped onto the mounting plates. Attaching the doors with hinges to the mounting plates is easier with a helper to hold the door in place for you.

Part 4: How to Align Cabinet Doors

Now that you have the new cabinet doors attached to your cabinets, you’re ready to align the doors by adjusting the hinges. These are the final steps to achieve the finished look you want.

Step 1: Install cabinet door bumpers.

The first finishing touch is to install the rubber, sound-suppressing bumpers which were included with your hinges. Apply two bumpers per door on the side opposite the hinges, one at the top and one at the bottom.

Step 2: Complete the three axis door alignment process.

The Blum, self-closing, Inserta hinge has the flexibility to allow easy, three axis adjustment of your cabinet doors. Using this adjustment capability will allow you to adjust your cabinet doors properly to achieve a clean, finished look. It also helps ensure that your cabinet doors function correctly so that they not only look great, but last as long as possible.

  • Vertical alignment: Remember the elongated slots in the mounting plate? These slots allow for vertical adjustment. The vertical adjustment is made by loosening the mounting plate which is attached with two screws to the face-frame. Loosening the screws in the mounting plate allows vertical movement of 5/32 inch, or 4mm. Vertical adjustment allows the doors to perfectly align along the bottom. This adjustment will compensate for small drilling errors when attaching the mounting plates. Make small adjustments while alternating between the top hinge and the bottom hinge until each side of the door sits an equal distance from the face-frame.
  • In-and-out alignment: The two screws on the hinge body (the part the mounting plate is attached to) allow for in-and-out adjustment and left-right adjustment. On the hinge, the screw farthest from the cabinet door adjusts the in-out, or the distance between the door and face-frame. The in-out adjustment range is 3/16 inches or 5mm and is used to compensate for the thickness of sound reducing rubber bumpers.
  • Left-right adjustment: The screw closest to the cabinet door adjusts left-right adjustment with a range of 3/32 inches or 2mm. This adjustment allows for the doors to have the tops and the bottoms independently moved to the left or right, and ensures that the gap between double doors can be perfectly set. Make small adjustments until the cabinet door hangs perfectly plumb.

This three axis cabinet door adjustment process will allow you to complete the job of hanging new cabinet doors with results that would make a professional cabinet maker proud.

Find New Cabinet Doors at CabinetDoors.com

Now that you’ve learned how to properly measure for your new cabinet doors, how to install hinges on cabinet doors, how to hang cabinet doors with overlay hinges, and how to align your cabinet doors with the three axis alignment method, you can install your own cabinet doors like a pro. We recommend watching the video at least once through before getting started. From there, keep the video handy through each step of the process as your own personal guide.

If you have any questions about your cabinet door or any of the steps outlined above, feel free to contact us via our website or by phone at 800-342-1010 for more information. You can also peruse our website for more tips and tricks, or check out our blog for all kinds of helpful information about cabinet doors. We’re confident that you can complete this process with more ease than you might expect, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you get stuck. When it comes to new cabinet doors, Cabinetdoors.com always delivers. 

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