Cabinet Doors 101: How to measure openings, install hinges, hang cabinet doors and align the doors.

Posted by Jim Hill on Sep 16th 2016

Hi, my name’s Brady, with, one of the largest online retail providers for custom kitchen cabinet doors.

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, so we’ve put together this easy, four-part video to help walk you through the process, each step of the way.

In part one, we’ll explain the concept of “overlays”, and show you the correct method for measuring cabinet openings, as well as how to calculate the sizes needed, whether for a single door, or two side-by-side doors covering the same opening.

Part two will take the mystery out of drilling pilot holes for your cabinet doors and how to easily install the Blum clip-top hinges.

Part three details the simple process of attaching your doors to the frame, and part four demonstrates how to perfectly align the doors using the built-in hinge adjustments. We’ll also show outfitting the doors with our sound-suppressing rubber bumpers.

Now we’re ready to get started. You’ll be surprised how easy this process actually is once it’s broken down into a few simple steps.


We’ll use a sample face-frame in this exercise for the 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.

We’ll start with a single door.

Measure the width and height of the cabinet opening.

The video shows this process. In the case of our 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.

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.

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.

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 have caused the door to slightly expand.

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 5/8-inch or 3/8-inch, the formulas will still work and will correctly size your new cabinet doors.

Just replace the “1/2-inch” in the formula with the overlay you intend to use.

Keep in mind that concealed hinges have different models for different overlays and the correct hinge must be ordered.

We carry the top quality, self-closing Blum Hinges, and we’re also able to drill the hinge pockets in your new doors.

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.
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.

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 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.

First let’s attach the Mounting Plate to the Hinge.
This is one of those cases where a video is worth a thousand words, because actually watching the process is much more informative than just reading about it.
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.
Now we’ll 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 plat away.

Next, we’ll show you how the hinge mounts to your cabinet door.
Notice that your doors have three holes for each hinge. The large hole is the Hinge Cup. It’s 35mm in diameter (about 1 3/8 inches).

The two smaller holes are not for screws, but exist to insure perfect hinge alignment.
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, simply 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, and are not used, to secure the hinge into the hinge-cups. The locking flange secures the hinges and insures perfect alignment.

Now that the hinges, with mounting plates, are attached to the cabinet doors, you’re ready to mount the doors to the cabinets.

The first step is to attach a straightedge or draw a line below the cabinet opening. For ½-inch overlay doors this line will be ½-inch below the opening.

For overlays other than ½-inch, the line will be located below the opening by the overlay you are using.

In this example we’ll use the straightedge method. Our straightedge is clamped ½-inch below the cabinet opening.

Next we’ll simply sit the cabinet door (with hinge and mounting-plate attached) on the straightedge.

Sitting the door on the straightedge, will align the door bottom with the overlay line. This will insure that all doors are properly aligned and the overlay is equal at both the top and bottom.

Next, align the door so the hinge mounting brackets are against the edge of the face-frame. With a pencil, mark the face-frame through the 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. Drill the pilot holes in the center of the elongated marks.

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.

With the mounting plates attached, 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.

Now that you have the new cabinet doors attached to your cabinets, you’re ready to align the doors by adjusting the hinges.

The alignment process will be covered now.

After you have finished hanging your new cabinet doors there are a few final steps to achieve the finished look you want.

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.

Now we’re ready to complete the 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 and achieve a finished look that would make a professional cabinet maker proud.

Remember the elongated slots in the Mounting Plate? These slots allow for vertical adjustment.
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.

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 allow 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.

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.

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 insures that the gap between double doors can be perfectly set.

Now we’ll demonstrate the in-out movement to compensate for the thickness of the rubber bumpers.

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.

The process is similar for the left-right adjustment. Just go in small steps until the cabinet door hangs perfectly plumb.

This cabinet door adjustment process will allow you to complete the job of hanging new cabinet doors with results any professional cabinet maker would envy.

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