General Information about Hinges

Hinges come in a nearly endless variety, but keeping in mind some key facts can help eliminate some of the confusion.

What is a Pair of Hinges?


It is a myth that hinges are always sold by the pair. We sell hinges in two ways; by the each or by the pair, depending usually on how they are packaged by the manufacturer. To determine how a hinge on our website is sold, look for the selling unit. You will find it right next to the price of the item.

Each (often notated as EA) means one hinge. A pair (often notated as PR) means two hinges. Normally you would order at least one pair or 2 each hinges per door. When placing an order, please pay special attention to the unit so that you get the correct number of hinges that you want.

Mounting Hardware


It is important to note that hinges do not always include mounting hardware. The product page will always specify whether mounting hardware is included or not, so make sure to check this before ordering. If included, the mounting hardware is usually for a typical installation. We try to list the type of fastener needed and/or included whenever possible. If you are unable to find this information on the product page, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help you further. If you have a special situation that calls for different screws, please make sure to order these separately.

What About Handing?


Handing describes which side of the door is hinged and which way the door swings. Most hinges are not handed and can be used on both left and right hand doors. However, some hinges and hardware are handed and you will need to choose either right or left handed hinges. For these hinges, take extra care when ordering to ensure you get the correct hinges. Handing information will be on the product pages - it can differ from product to product.

Base Materials


Hinges and hardware can be found in a wide variety of base materials. Different materials tend to be desired or even required for different situations. Base material also tends to be the driving factor when it comes to price. If you are ever wondering why a certain hinge seems so expensive (or inexpensive), checking the base material will typically give you the answer. It is also important to know that the base material often varies from the finish. It is easy to be misled by companies which only list the finish of a product. For example, a hinge listed with a brass finish may be made of a zinc base material. The material used will be listed on our product pages whenever possible. If you see a product that does not have a base material listed, it is typically because the manufacturer has not provided this information. If you are interested in an item that does not have this information provided, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to look further into it for you.

When reading through this list, it is important to keep in mind that the characteristics being described are generally true within the metal, but an extremely large amount of variation does exist within each metal. This is because all metals, especially alloys (substances consisting of two or more metals), can vary quite a bit depending on factors such as the exact metals being used and the process being employed to create the metal. A good way to think about this is that the general term (steel, brass, bronze, etc.) is like a family name, where there exists many smaller variations within that family. A quick example can be found when looking at a metal as unsuspecting as steel. Steel is a material consisting of mostly iron with small amounts of carbon. The variation in carbon used (generally 0.15 - 2%) can make very big differences in the characteristics of the metal, however.

One last thing to note when considering specific materials are environmental variances. Exposure to sun, salt, humidity, rain, etc. make very big differences on whether a material will work for you or not. A material such as stainless steel may hold up very well for 10 years in a dry exterior environment, but that same material might see rust forming on the surface after just a few years when exposed to the harsh salt air in a coastal environment.

Aluminum

At A Glance: Not as strong as other metals but much lighter, can corrode but does not rust, environmentally friendly

Aluminum naturally generates a protective oxide coating and is corrosion resistant. Different types of surface treatment such as anodizing, painting, or lacquering can further improve this property. It is particularly useful for applications where protection and conservation are required. Aluminum is 100 percent recyclable with no downgrading of its qualities. The re-melting of aluminum requires little energy: only about 5 percent of the energy required to produce the primary metal initially is needed in the recycling process.

Brass

At A Glance: Strong, doesn't rust but can corrode in salt environments, moderately expensive

Brass is a metal alloy made of mostly copper and zinc. Brass is a great material for many applications because it does not rust. It is important to note that the zinc within brass can corrode however, but this typically only happens over very long periods of time or when exposed to harsh elements- for example being submerged in salt water. Also note that brass is a material which can and will patina over time, depending on how it is finished. The metal itself tends to be a yellow/gold tone but is commonly plated and lacquered to change the appearance yet keep the desirable base metal qualities. While brass tends to be softer than other metals, it is still plenty strong for most hardware applications.

Bronze

At A Glance: Very strong, doesn't rust, offers the best corrosion resistance of any metal used in our hardware, expensive

Bronze is a metal alloy consisting of mostly copper and tin, but often includes other metals. Bronze is a nearly perfect mix of strength, rust resistance, and corrosion resistance. While the surface will change and oxidize over a long period of time, that change is typically only superficial. Once oxidation covers an entire piece of bronze, it then acts as a barrier protecting the internal metal. Bronze itself, is a brown/red tone, but further tonal variations do exist depending on the exact metals used. While bronze can also be plated and lacquered, it is most commonly changed by adding a patina and then sealing it with a wax or polish coating. This is because bronze has arguably one of the most beautiful natural patinas, so most manufacturers tend to embrace this and finish the hardware in a way that allow the pieces to take on their own unique character over time. If an unchanging finish is desired, bronze is typically not the best way to go. Otherwise, bronze’s characteristics make it one of the most ideal materials to use for hardware.

Steel

At A Glance: the strongest of any metal used in our hardware, offers no rust or corrosion resistance, inexpensive, very common

Steel is an alloy made up of mostly iron with trace amounts of carbon. It is one of the most commonly used metals around the world due to its high strength, low cost, and ability to be used for virtually any application, big or small. It is important to keep in mind that “steel” itself is a very general term, as there are many variations of this alloy in existence depending on the amount of carbon present. Most products that are simply considered “steel” are more specifically a mild steel, which contains about 0.15% carbon. Another common variation is called carbon steel, which is made up of up to 2% carbon. The appearance of raw steel is a dark grey/silver tone and commonly features plated and lacquered finishes.

Stainless Steel

At A Glance: An even stronger variation of steel, offers high resistance to rust and corrosion, more expensive than steel but tends to be less expensive than brass and bronze.

Stainless steel is one of the most common variations of the alloy steel. It is made up of steel and a minimum of 10.5% chromium, along with many other elements. Chromium is the main element present that makes this variation of steel resistant to rust and corrosion. Keep in mind that stainless steel, like any metal product, is not 100% resistant to rust, corrosion, or other damage. It is a common misconception that stainless steel never rusts. An easy way to remember this fact is in the name itself. It is a metal that simply “stains less” than a normal steel would. That being said, even if stainless steel does end up rusting, one of the main benefits of the material is that it can typically be easily restored. As long as the product is a solid stainless steel base material with a natural brushed or polished finish, the right tools and/or solvents can fix this (brush wheel, polishing wheel, stainless cleaner, steel wool, etc).

Note that in general, the higher the chromium content, the more rust and corrosion resistant a stainless steel will be. Grades of stainless steel exist to help determine varying chromium content (among other elements). A 304 grade stainless steel is the most commonly used type, which has 18% chromium and 8% nickel. A majority of hardware will be made with 304 grade stainless. The next most common grade is 316, aka marine grade, which is typically 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% molybdenum. Molybdenum is a new element introduced that makes 316 grade stainless even more resistant to rust and corrosion.

Wrought Iron

At A Glance: Most “wrought iron” is now made of mild steel to replicate wrought iron, in the current day the most desirable attribute is its aesthetics, actual wrought iron is strong, can be corrosion resistant, and is easily welded

Wrought iron is an alloy consisting of just iron metal and less than 0.08% carbon. It is actually an alloy that that was once very prevalent, but has been essentially replaced by mild steel, which is much less costly and still very strong. There are currently no large scale wrought iron producers, so most products that are in fact wrought iron are typically repurposed from old wrought iron products. Otherwise, most products created now are typically made of mild steel but given a look which resembles wrought iron, which is typically the main reason one would want this semi-extinct material.

Zinc

At A Glance: Not as strong as other metals, inexpensive, light, very common.

Zinc itself is an element that is commonly found as a component in other metal alloys, such as brass and bronze. It is also very commonly used to add a galvanized finish over steel. This is done to improve the rust and corrosion resistance of other metals. Beyond this, zinc alloy die-cast is also used to make many hardware products. Zinc die-cast is very common due to being inexpensive, easily available, and easy to plate with a variety of different finishes. While zinc die-cast products are much less strong than a brass, bronze, or steel product, they are significantly less expensive. If looking for a budget product, zinc is definitely the route to take.

Finishes


When it comes to finishes, there exists a large amount of variation. Though names have been mostly standardized throughout the industry, there are still many factors that can make the same finish look different from product to product. Many finishes are coated with a lacquered paint. There is no standardization to what tone is used, resulting in variations in color across different manufacturers. Another factor that can change the appearance of a finish is the product’s base material. Oftentimes finishes plated over higher-quality materials have richer tones. Because of this, it is very important to carefully review and consider any possible finish variations when mixing different metals and/or manufacturers.

Some finishes are simply alterations of the material themselves. As an example, raw stainless steel is naturally a dull grey in tone, however an attractive satin stainless steel can be achieved by using a fine grit belt which polishes the material, giving it uniform brush strokes across the surface. A polished (also known as mirrored) finish is achieved in a similar fashion, but instead uses a buffing tool which polishes the material so finely that the surface becomes reflective in nature.