How to Choose the Right Type of Cabinet Hinges

Posted by Donovan Thornhill on Mar 7th 2023

common cabinet door hinges

Your cabinet doors are only as useful as the hinges used to hold them up. The proper hinges are important for protecting your cabinet doors and frames, minimizing noise, and ensuring a proper range of motion. Before choosing your kitchen cabinet hinges, you should have a complete picture of your options and the benefits of the different cabinet hinge types so you can maximize their functionality.

Common Types of Hinges

You may be surprised to find that there are several different types of hinges for kitchen cabinets, and each option provides its own benefits. The type of cabinet hinge you choose can affect how much support your cabinet door has, how well it moves through its range of motion and the appearance of the cabinets. Some of the most common types of cabinet hinges include:

  • Face Frame Cabinet Hinges: Face frame hinges are completely hidden by the cabinet door. The hinge is mounted onto the inside of the face frame, but the portion that is attached to the door is hidden when the door is closed. Face frame cabinet hinges come in several different types, including inset cabinet hinges, and variable overlay hinges.
  • Frameless Cabinet Hinges: Frameless hinges are the go-to choice when you have cabinets without a face frame and need to mount the door inside the cabinet box. These hinges mount the inside edge of the door to the inside edge of the cabinet and are completely concealed when the door is closed. European hinges are the most popular type of frameless cabinet hinge.
  • Compact Cabinet Hinges: Blum Compact hinges are a type of concealed hinge best used for face frame cabinets, but they can also be used for cabinets with small or large overlays. They are simple to install and can be adjusted based on height and depth. The positioning of the compact hinge allows the door to open a full 105 degrees and provides more space inside of the cabinet boxes. Most compact hinges also provide the option for a soft-close function.

Which Hinges Are the Best?

With so many hinge options, it can be difficult to narrow down the best types of hinges for your kitchen cabinet doors. Deciding on the right hinge is important for having a smooth motion of your cabinet door that lasts over time. Ultimately, there are three main considerations to make when choosing kitchen cabinet hardware that fits your cabinets.

Cabinet Construction

How your cabinet boxes are constructed is important for choosing the right cabinet hinge types. After all, it plays a vital part in where the hinge can be placed and how the door’s range of motion. There are two common ways that cabinet boxes are constructed.

  • Face Frame: Face frame cabinets are cabinet boxes constructed with a 1” to 1 ½” wide piece of wood mounted to the front edge. Face frame cabinets are the most common in American cabinet styles. These cabinets work well with semi-concealed surface mount hinges to account for the extra space.
  • Frameless: Unlike face frame cabinets, frameless cabinets are boxes with an open front. Instead of having extra plywood along the front of the cabinet boxes, the exposed edges are edge banded. As a result, you will need to install Frameless hinges inside the cabinet boxes. Frameless cabinet boxes are more common in European-style designs, but they have also increased in popularity in contemporary American styles.

If you are replacing old cabinet doors, your choice may also depend on what hardware your previous doors used since the space and holes for the screws are already in your original cabinet boxes.

Cabinet Door Overlay

The construction and placement of your cabinet doors will also influence the type of hinge that you should use. The overlay of your cabinet doors is where your cabinet doors are positioned in relation to the cabinet boxes. There are three main types of cabinet door construction methods.

  • Overlay: Overlay cabinet doors extend past the opening of the cabinet boxes and cover the face of the cabinets evenly around all sides. In this construction, face mount, flush mount, and full or partial wrap hinges can all work. These doors can work with either concealed hinge types or overlay hinges, including face mount, flush mount, demountable, and either full- or partial-wrap hinges.
  • Inset: Full-inset cabinet doors sit entirely inside the frame of the cabinets. As a result, the face of each door is flush with the cabinet frame when closed. Full-inset doors work well with non-mortise cabinet hinges as well as surface mount hinges and butt hinges.

Hinge Closing Options

Once you know which hinge best fits the construction of your door, you can narrow down your search based on your preferred functionality. The following are the most popular types of closing options for hinges:

  • Soft-Close Hinges: Soft-close cabinet hinges are a type of surface mount hinge. As the name implies, these hinges are designed to close slowly and gently regardless of the force used to close the door. They are a popular option for families with kids as they cut down on noise and slamming. The disadvantage is that they require a bit more precision to adjust.
  • Self-Closing Cabinet Hinges: Sometimes called “snap-closing,” these hinges have a spring that helps pull the door closed when it is within a few inches from the cabinet face. These doors often snap closed more abruptly, serving a nearly opposite function from soft-close hinges. They are helpful for those who often leave their cabinet doors open.
  • Free-Swing Hinges: These types of cabinet hinges are the most common and most basic type, as they allow the door to swing freely without providing any assistance or resistance throughout its motion.

When ordering any hinges, you should generally stick to the rule of two hinges per door. If the doors you choose are particularly heavy, you may want to purchase a third.

Complete Your Cabinets with the Right Type of Hinges

With several different types of hinges for kitchen cabinets, it can be challenging to find the right style for your cabinet doors. Fortunately, once you know the type of cabinet construction you have and the functionality you need, the process is even simpler. Even better, when you turn to a one-stop shop like, you can find cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and multiple types of hinges.

At, our selection of doors and cabinet door hardware offers dozens of styles for any interior design theme, making it easy for you to complete your space. Explore our complete inventory of cabinet doors and hardware to see all the possibilities available for refreshing and redesigning your space. If you have any questions about which hinges to use, contact us today to learn more.

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