Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Basics of Kitchen Cabinet Refacing: A Beginner's Guide to Choosing Cabinet Hinges

by Melissa Bullard
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Choosing new hinges when you're refacing kitchen cabinets offers more options than you might think. The door hinges you choose may depend in part on the cabinet frames that are already installed in your kitchen because they don't change in a reface. So before you start shopping, read on to learn what type of cabinet box you have, what type of doors you want, and what type of cabinet hinges you need to go with them.

Cabinet Refacing Tips: Frame Styles

There are two basic cabinet styles--face-frame cabinets and frameless or European cabinets. Face-frame cabinets have a frame on the front of the cabinet box and the doors must be attached to this frame. Frameless cabinets do not have a frame so the doors are attached directly to the cabinet box. You have to choose doors that match your cabinet box and the doors you choose determine the hinges you need.

Frameless Cabinets:

  • Full Overlay Door: This type of cabinet door lies on top of the edge of the cabinet box and covers it completely. You need a hinge that is fully concealed, such as a European hinge.
  • Half Overlay Door: The half overlay door is attached to the cabinet frame, but does not completely cover its sides. For this type of door, you need a European overlay hinge.
  • Inset Door: An inset door lies inside the edges of the cabinet box, its surface flush with the cabinet box edges. For this type of a door, you can use a European hinge.

Face-Frame Cabinets:

  • Overlay Door: These doors are attached to the front of the cabinet box frame, covering it partially or completely. For these types of doors, you can use European overlay, knuckle, or knife hinges, depending on how much of the frame the door covers.
  • 3/8" Inset Door: A 3/8" inset door lies partially on top of the cabinet frame. There is a rabbet, or small recess, cut into the end of the cabinet door so it creates a type of joint with the edge of the cabinet frame. This type of cabinet door requires hinges specifically for 3/8" insets.
  • Flush Door: An flush door lies on the inside of the cabinet frame, the closed door surface flush with the surface of the kitchen cabinet frame. With a flush door you can use an H-style hinge, a butterly hinge, or a partial wraparound hinge.

Once you know what type of cabinet frame you have and the doors you want, then you can start considering color and style in hinges. Happy shopping!

About the Author
Melissa Bullard earned a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, then a Master's Degree in Spanish Language and Literatures from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has taught writing, literature, and Spanish classes, and is currently working as a fre

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