Selecting Cabinet Hinges

When choosing cabinet hinges, there are two main things to consider: the cabinet construction type and the cabinet door type. These characteristics are independent of one another, so determining each separately is recommended to help simplify the identification process. Once you have identified both of these characteristics, choosing the proper hinge becomes much easier.

Cabinet Construction Type - Face Frame or Frameless?


The cabinet construction type refers to just the cabinet box, not the cabinet doors.  There are two types of cabinet construction:

  • Face-Frame Cabinets: Face-frame cabinets have a “frame” that attaches to the front of the cabinet. The face-frame gives the cabinet box extra strength while adding dimension to the door fronts. Face-frame cabinets are commonly made by American cabinet manufactures.
  • Frameless Cabinets: Frameless cabinets do not have a face-frame, and instead rely on thicker side panels for strength. Frameless cabinets are very common in Europe, but have steadily been making their way into America, as they lend themselves well to contemporary and modern designs.

Cabinet Door Types


There are four basic cabinet door types:

  • Overlay Doors: The door is larger than the opening and sits entirely on top of it - no part of the door sits within the opening.
  • Full Inset Doors: The door sits completely in the opening and is flush with the surface of the cabinet..
  • Partial Inset Doors: Part of the door is inset into the opening and part of the door overlays the opening.
  • Offset Doors: Nearly identical to partial inset doors, however the hinge is surface mounted and all of it is visible.

For each of the cabinet doors types listed above there are many different cabinet hinge types that can be used. We have listed many of them below.

Overlay Cabinet Doors

The 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ overlay hinges shown below are set overlays. The overlay dimension is measured from the edge of the cabinet opening to edge of the cabinet door as it lays in the closed position on the cabinet. The variable overlay hinge accommodates any overlay dimension because it attaches to the surface of the cabinet and not to the edge of the cabinet opening.

Full Inset Cabinet Doors

Full inset cabinet doors are used on cabinets where the door butts up against the edge of the cabinet opening. The door lays flush with the surface of the cabinet face. Full inset doors can use either butt hinges or surface mounted cabinet hinges.

Partial Inset Cabinet Doors

The most commonly used partial inset cabinet doors dimension today is the 3/8″ inset. The 1/2″ inset, 5/8″ inset and 3/4″ inset hinges were used in the 1950′s and 1960′s and are no longer used in new construction. We still have stock in these older inset cabinet hinges but the finish selection is limited.

Offset Cabinet Doors

One more type of inset door is shown below. This type of cabinet is essentially exactly the same as a partial inset door, with the main difference being the hinge is mounted on the exterior side of the door, and is fully visible. There could be an infinite number of offset dimensions, however the most common offset is 3/8″. For 3/8" offset cabinet doors,  a 3/8″ offset hinge should be used.