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What Is a Flush Hinge?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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A flush hinge is a type of specialty hardware used to hang a door. Unlike standard butt hinges, flush hinges are designed to fit within a pocket cut into the door and frame, which allows the surface of the hinge plates to sit flush with the surface of the door or frame. This type of design allows the door to sit completely flush against the frame, rather than remaining in the standard offset position. Flush hinges are also known as recessed or mortised hinges.

Like standard hinges, flush hinges come in both rectangular and rounded varieties. Those with square edges are generally easier to install than rounded ones. When buying hinges, it is important to match the hinge to the weight and size of the cabinet door. A hinge that is too small or not strong enough to support the door will result in poor performance over time. Hinges should also be chosen in finishes that match other hardware and fixtures within the kitchen.

Installing a flush hinge is much more difficult than installing a standard surface-mounted hinge. Instead of simply fastening the hinge to the surface of the door and frame, installers must cut out a pocket in the door to accept the hinge before screwing it in place. This is traditionally accomplished using a simple hammer and chisel, though this method requires a bit of woodworking skill. Modern installers may simply use a special hinge template to guide a wood router to make these cuts. Some cabinets and doors may also come pre-prepped for flush hinge installation.

The primary advantage to using a flush hinge is that it eliminates any gaps between the door and the frame. These two components sit flush against one another, creating a seamless, clean look that may be preferable to some homeowners. By recessing the hinge into the body of the door, installers can also leave more room available for storage within the cabinet.

Despite their advantages, flush hinges are not necessarily the best choice for all users. The biggest disadvantage to the flush hinge is that the installer must be capable of cutting a pocket into both the door and frame. This can be very difficult to perform correctly using a chisel, and not all novice installers have access to the templates and routers needed to speed up this process. Flush hinges also tend to be less durable than standard hinges, and cannot be used on very heavy doors. These hinges typically come in fewer designs and finishes, leaving buyers with fewer options.

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Discussion Comments
By kylee07drg — On Feb 06, 2013

Flush hinges on doors probably keep drafts out. My dad's workshop door has standard butt hinges, so there is a gap between the door and the frame, and it is cold in there during the winter! He turns on the heat while he's out there, but still, if you stand anywhere near the door, you feel the cold air seeping in through the crack.

It would be better for him to get a different door and some flush hinges. It would cut down on heating costs and keep him warmer.

By seag47 — On Feb 06, 2013

@shell4life – Maybe the most basic hinges are unattractive, but there are some decorative ones out there that can enhance the look of the cabinets. Even flush hinges come in decorative varieties, and these look the best, in my opinion.

My friend has cabinets with flush hinges that do allow the cabinet doors to rest flat, but the surface of the hinge is visible both on the front of the cabinet and on the side of the frame. The hinge is a dark metal cut in the shape of flower petals, and it makes the cabinets look special.

The mechanical part of the hinge is hidden, since it's a flush hinge. However, you get to see the pretty part.

By shell4life — On Feb 05, 2013

I have always found hinges unattractive. They jut out and disrupt the look of cabinets. I love flush hinges, because they hide inside the wood, so all you see is a smooth surface.

By feasting — On Feb 04, 2013

It is really easy to make a big mess of your door if you are not experienced with installing flush hinges. I tried to do one on my own, and I actually ruined the wood. I had to buy a new door, because I cut too much out of the old one, and the hinge wouldn't fit!

You can bet that I had a professional help me install a flush hinge on my new door. I am willing to admit when I need help, and this is one thing that I am just not talented at doing.

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