How To Measure A Door Hinge

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When was the last time you noticed one of your door hinges? They’re something we never pay attention to unless they start squeaking or stop working because a screw came loose. The former is easy to fix – a little WD40, and the squeak is gone. The latter, though, might need a bit more attention.

Or, you purchased a new door, and you need to install it. Hinges play a big part in that installation, and we need to know which hinge size our door needs, as well as how many hinges.

If you’ve never hung a door before, don’t worry. The task is not especially complicated: a few measurements, a screwdriver or two, a helper to hold the door in place, a dime and a nickel from your change pocket, a power drill and drill bit for pilot holes, and screws.

Let’s assume you are replacing a hinge on an existing door, and we’ll walk you through the simple steps.

Door Hinge Measurements

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Height and width are pretty easy to remember. Hinges are measured from top to bottom, and side to side, to get the height and width. Thickness is also considered. Nothing complicated about any of that.

A close look at hinges will tell you there are two types of hinge corners: radial and square. This is where the two coins come in.

The steps are easy:

  • Remove the hinge from the door. A Phillips screwdriver will be needed, and if the hinge sticks to the door, use a flathead screwdriver to pry it loose.
  • Lay the hinge out flat on a table and measure across the center of the hinge from one side to the other to determine the width; then, measure from top to bottom for the height of the hinge. (Standard hinges are the same both ways, and usually 3 ½ “ x 3 ½ “)
  • Look at the corners of the hinge. The square one is easy to spot; the radial hinge will need to be measured, and this is where the two coins come in. The dime will fit in the radial corner of a ¼ “ radius, while the nickel will fit in the radial corner of a ⅝ “ radius.

With these measurements, you will be able to choose the right hinge for the door and door frame. Bring them with you when you go to the local hardware store, and the clerk will be able to help you find the right one for your door.

Door Measurements For A New Hinge

You probably noticed when you were removing the hinge that it was inset and fit neatly into a mortise cut for the purpose so the plate of the hinge would lay flush to the door edge and the door frame.

Measuring the door doesn’t take a great deal of thought. Measure the width at the center, and measure the height from top to bottom. Pretty clear. Most doors in your home will be 30” wide and 80” tall. Don’t forget to measure the thickness, too, and measure it at the lock.

Purchasing the right Hinge Size

With door measurements in hand (you wrote them down, didn’t you?), it’s off to the hardware store.

While most standard hinges will be 3 ½ “ x 3 ½ “, as we mentioned, they also come in other sizes ranging from 2” to 6”. While doors may vary in size, there are some general rules about the right hinge size for the door.

  • Doors that are 1 ⅜ “ thick and 32” wide, you’ll want to purchase a hinge 4” in height.
  • Doors that are a bit thicker and wider, 1 ¾ “ thick and 36” wide, go with a 4 ½ “ hinge size.
  • Doors that are wider, up to 48”, you’ll want to scale up hinge size to 5”. Incremental increases will continue as your door’s numbers are thicker and wider. This will have to do not only with size but also with weight, as we want to stabilize the door’s opening and closing.

Where On The Door To Install Hinges

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As a general rule, the bottom hinge will be installed 10 inches from the bottom of the door. Measure 5″ down from the top of the door to find the right place for the upper hinge. This will provide a balanced hinge turn to support the weight of the door and its opening and closing.

However, for heavier doors, heavier both by the wood with which the door is made and its size (height, width, thickness), there may be a need for a third hinge. In these cases, the middle hinge should be installed exactly at the midpoint between the upper and lower hinges.

Specialty Hinges

The most common type of hinge is the butt hinge, and they come in a variety of metals and finishes to choose from. However, there are other types of hinges beyond the butt hinge.

Hinges for specialty doors and for screen doors are also available, and those doors will usually tell you in the papers that come with them the type of hinge to use. Spring hinges are an example of a specific type of hinge needed for a door – a screen door with a hinge designed to self-close after opening.

Strap hinges are used with doors for outdoor sheds and garage doors. Pivot hinges are also available for heavy doors or specialty doors that require something more than a standard hinge.

The right tool for the right job becomes the right hinge for the right door. Measuring is mostly common sense, and writing the measurements down will make your shopping easy.

But let’s say you are replacing an existing door and simply want to match up the hinge locations for the replacement door. This is a common home improvement job, and we thought we’d include it in this article.

Rather than tell you, we found a video that will show you, and showing is always better than telling.

There really is no mystery to hinges and door installations. So many of us are used to working with pre-hung doors – the frame, jambs, door, and hinges are already in place, and you’re simply fitting the pre-hung door into the framed opening.

But, for those of us who are simply upgrading our existing doors, this article shows the way.

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