Essential hardware that connects your door to a frame, hinges have to be durable, long-lasting, and strong. To meet this standard they must be made of high-quality materials, particularly with a commercial door hinge. Otherwise, after just a few years of service, your hinge may break, deteriorate, or create a hazardous or unsecure area depending on your workplace environment.
While all hinges may look the same, the truth is that most hinges have a particular purpose and are made to handle different doors, entry ways and use applications. They are just as important as the handle, lock or other accessory on a door, as well.
Choosing the right commercial hinge for your warehouse, office, or other industrialized building means fully understanding your commercial application and aligning the type of door and frame with the appropriate hardware.
History of Hinges
The history of the door hinge dates back to antiquity. This ancient hardware is much different than how it is used today according to archaeologists, but the door hinge still maintains its original function and purpose. There is no exact origin of the hinge, but the oldest date back to almost 5,500 years ago for metal door hinges. However, there is evidence that even older cultures used stone and wood to create hardware that connected doors to their frames.
Today’s hinges are much more flexible and functional - serving a wide range of uses. The 20th century gave rise to hinges that allowed doors to pivot in any direction. Hinges were also developed with springs to keep devices from snapping shut or jumping open randomly. In addition, corrosion-resistant hinges are now used to protect metal hinges from rust due to salt and other impurities in the operational environment.
Hinges now come in numerous configurations and serve multiple purposes for various industries. For example, there are hinges specific to military, aerospace, computing, industrial transportation, and other commercial applications.
What is a Commercial Door Hinge?
Commercial door hinges are thicker gauge, load-bearing hardware that lasts for years. The construction and purpose of the door hinge is particularly important when considering what door hinge to use as well.
Ranging in size and configuration, a typical size for a commercial butt hinge is 4 ½” by 4 ½” with a ⅛” thickness and 1⁄2” diameter. The corners are typically square. They are larger than average hinges because they must handle more wear and tear over a longer period of time and perform under weight, stress and surrounding environment. This heavy duty hardware comes in a variety of finishes, but stainless steel is considered a superior material.
Ball-bearing hinges are one of the most common types found in commercial use. These hinges prevent some of the heavy door problems that occur with long-term use in offices, hospitals, and industrial buildings. These lubricated bearings allow for smooth and silent operation with long-lasting and reliable operation for heavy, wide doors or exterior doors.
Hinges: Residential vs Commercial
When it comes to hinges, you still find decorative, bronze and wrought iron hinges that make a home’s doors look like pieces of art rather than the industrialized, thick hinges used in commercial operations. However, the main difference is the spring tension that is optimized for door performance and long-lasting use in industrialized spaces.
However, if a residential door is considerably wider or heavier, then a commercial door hinge or at least a larger decorative hinge may be considered.
In comparison to commercial door hinges, residential hardware is much smaller, typically measuring 3 ½” by 3 ½” in size and 1/16” in thickness with a knuckle diameter of ⅜”, and a radius corner is commonly used.
Another difference is the screw hole design. Residential hinges have a “W” pattern for their screw holes, while others are more unique. However, that’s not the case for commercial door hinge designs, which must use a semi-circle or curved half-moon shape in many cases. While this was not always standard, it was established to maintain uniform load-bearing designs for commercial doors, hinges, and frames.
Within commercial hinge hardware, there are thicker gauge designs called architectural hinges that are used when a door is much heavier. These can be used for commercial or residential purposes, but the main difference is that architectural hinges use higher-grade materials to withstand constant strain on a swinging heavy door.
For commercial doors, these hinges are made with ball bearing hinges because of their frequent use, which needs to be free of friction typically for 1,000,000 life cycles or more.
Industrial door hinges are simply built differently. They are designed with better materials for immense load-bearing. In addition, they are typically custom-made for the type of frame and door needed. They can withstand additional stress, weight, and high-velocity use. They are also typically made in metal finishes.
Most Common Types of Commercial Hinges
A typical door hinge has two leaves that are joined by a single pin, which can be removed. The pin is the pivotal point, allowing the leaves to rotate around the pin as the door closes and opens. While this is a typical design, they can be made to handle various loads for various applications, which often involves additional thickness, more screw holes, more springs and different hinge configurations.
A few Common Door Hinges used in Commercial Applications:
Standard Butt Hinge
Also known as the “mortise hinge,” a butt hinge is the most common type of hardware that you will find in commercial and residential applications. This is the standard two-leaf design joined by a single pin. The leaves “butt” together when the door is closed. Butt hinges are a good option for lightweight use, and they can be used in exterior and interior applications.
These come in full mortise, half mortise, full surface, and half surface styles. These work for average weight doors and high-frequency industrial doors, as well as heavier wood and metal door types.
A less typical variation of the butt hinge is known as the “rising mortise hinge,” which has a curved shape to allow for the door to raise itself over thick carpet or uneven floors.
This type of hinge uses a thicker central barrel instead of a pin, and it’s secured by a pivot. The barrel is hollow and cylindrical, which allows for rotational bearing force to go around the pivot. This gives it a screw shape that can be used for fastening and driving the hinge.
Full Mortise Hinge
With this hardware, one or two leaves, depending on the custom design, are mortised into the door or the cabinet face, as well as the door jamb. The hinge is installed flush with the surface of frame and door after installation, which creates a smooth quality to the finish. These hinges require a bit more finesse and skill so that the door operates correctly.
Pivot hinges are used when you need a secure, complete hinge that is installed top-to-bottom. This allows a door to completely revolve and spin, while the hinge stays in place. Shower doors are mounted with a hinge at the top corners of the door, which allows doors to swing in 180-degree revolutions. For a true revolving door, pivot hinges are installed in the center.
Just like a door, a gate hinge connects the gate to a post. The type of hinge is different depending on the size and strength needed for the gate. Aluminum chain link gates are different, and they typically only need lightweight hinges. However, wood gates are heavier and require hinges with thicker materials to handle a heavier, thicker post and gate.
If the gate requires a spring back after it’s opened, then you should get a double-acting spring hinge. If the gate only swings in one direction, it can use a single-acting spring butt hinge. Barn doors typically have a heavy-duty hinge. There are five main types of gate hinges including surface mounted, spring hinges, heavy-duty, pintle hinges, and dummy strap butt hinges.
Also called a continuous hinge, a piano hinge runs the full length of the door. They are available in different thicknesses, widths, finishes, and customized designs depending on the length of the door and application. They are best used for industrial applications where the door may face frequent and intense use. The original purpose of this hinge was for attaching piano lids so they were able to fold down.
Piano hinges are also used for shed and barn doors, as well as fire doors, marine doors, prison cell doors, and heavy-duty gates. The type of piano hinge changes based on the door weight and width as well if it’s a wall, post-frame, revolving door, or other type of heavy-duty door.
Continuous Aluminum Geared Hinges
These Pemko hinges are typically full mortise, half mortise, half surface, or full surface. Made from aluminum materials, these hinges can be custom-made for medical or other health facility environments.
Continuous Pin and Barrel Hinges
These are full mortise, half mortise, full surface, and half surface hinges that come with pin and barrel hinge guards. These are typically used for behavioral health environments. They may have custom leaves or springs depending on the type of door and wall frame.
Electrified Hinges or Power Transfer Hinges
These are custom-made hinges that incorporate power transfer cables into a hinge. Electrified hinges can be found in butt hinge, continuous pin and barrel, and aluminum continuous geared styles. Hinges like this are commonly used for security access doors, providing easy installation for access control, alarms, and other protected entryways.
Power-over-Ethernet hinges also work with electrified hinges to provide more communication between devices and your security doors.
The decorative hinge has different tips with split finishing. They also may use olive knuckles or contain a unique square barrel. For commercial purposes, these decorative hinges have screw holes that form a half-moon shape.
If you don’t want the hinge to show, then this concealed hinge is perfectly disguised. This improves the aesthetic of your door whether it’s open or closed.
Swing clear hinges, pocket pivot hinges, raised barrels, slip-in hinges, interim hinges, and hinge pin door stops are a few of the specialty hinges available. These are typically used depending on the type of door and movement that you desire for the application.
These are thicker hinges also called a spring pivot hinge and double-acting spring hinge. These can come in adjustable, custom-made styles depending on the type of door. The double-acting door spring is a heavy-duty, horizontal spring style that works with heavy-weighted metal doors.
Hinge rescue hardware allows doors to open in both directions without anything damaging the frame. These come in double-lipped strike and combination strike and stop designs.
Top 10 Commercial Contractors & Hinge Installation Questions
Most hinges are mounted to the surface of the door, or they may have a recessed installation. There are also combination strike designs. In every case, everything must be properly measured beforehand, and the appropriate clearances must be known before installation begins. Tools and custom cuts must also be considered, so that the length and weight of the hinge is matched to the door size and application.
1. How do I Measure Door Hinge Radius?
To determine the size of the hinge corner’s radius, you will rest the straight edge along the top part of the hinge. Once you have the straight edge aligned, you can measure the distance from the bottom of the straight edge to the bottom of the radius. This is typically around ¼ or ⅝ depending on the size of the hinge and door. Whatever you do, don’t rest one side of the straightedge near or on the head of the pin.
2. Door Hinge Size Guide / Door Hinge Size Chart
Click here for the McKinney Products catalog.
The door width, thickness and application will influence the size and type of the hinge that you’ll need. Use this sample McKinney chart (below) as a reference to see the corresponding door width, door thickness, and hinge size.
In addition, the number of hinges you need will depend on the height and type of door. For example, 60-inch doors require three or more hinges, but anything taller likely will need four or more. This chart below can direct you to the number of hinges for the height of the door.
3. Door Weight Hinge Size*
You can refer to the above chart to determine the corresponding number of hinges and sizes. The weight of the door does not necessarily matter as much as the number of hinges relative to the total height of the door. For doors more than 200 pounds, you typically will need four or more stronger, heavy-duty hinges.
* You should always consult a professional to properly determine the door weight hinge size appropriate for your project requirements.
4. Door Hinge Dimensions
Before installing a new door, you’ll need to know the number of hinges, type of hinge design, and thickness. Most standard door hinges are square in shape and sized in increments of ½” such as 3 inches or 3 ½. Most residential doors use a 3 ½” by 3 ½” hinge, while commercial doors have a 4 ½” by 4 ½” hinge typically.
This all depends on the thickness and width of the door. You can use this more in-depth chart to check thickness and hinge size.
* Heavy Weight hinges should be used on all extra heavy doors or those exposed to high frequency use. Consult the factory for doors wider than 3'0". Five knuckle heavy weight hinges are four bearing.
The following gauges of metal may apply:Heavy weight 41/2" (114) high = .180 gauge
Heavy weight 5" (127) high = .190 gauge
Heavy weight 6" (152) high = .203 gauge
Note: Five knuckle 8" (203) high hinges have six bearings.
Note: On hinge size the dimension shown is the hinge height. Where full mortise or other hinges with two dimensions are used, the first dimension given is always the height. The second dimension is the hinge width when open.
5. How Many Hinges Per Door
The amount of hinges per door depends on the door height and weight. For example, a typical 60” or less door needs only two hinges, but if it is a heavy-duty or large wood door, then you may need three hinges. You can use this guide below to check the amount of hinges. When in doubt, more hinges can help secure a heavier door.
Note: An additional hinge is required for each additional 30".
6. How to Measure Door Hinge Placement
If you are installing a new door, then the precise location of the hinge is important.
Depending on the application - most doors need at least two to three hinges. The first hinge is typically located about 5 inches from the top of the frame to the top of the hinge.
The bottom hinge is typically located 10 inches from the bottom of the frame to the bottom of the hinge and the middle hinge is typically midway between the top and bottom hinges.
Other hinges should be placed equally between the bottom and top hinge. A three-hinge door would have a middle hinge directly in the center between the top and bottom, for example.
7. How to Select the Proper Hinge Type
You should always consult a professional but typically there are three primary considerations when selecting a hinge for your commercial door project:
- Hinge material
- Commercial application
The load depends on the weight of the door, center of gravity, weight of any equipment mounted on the door, and how the door will move. For instance, does it need to revolve or swing 180 degrees? There are specific hinges designed to move with the door or allow the door to swing without causing friction or catching on an uneven floor.
The hinge may also be made from specialized materials that depend on the environment, temperature required, chemical exposure, UV radiation, and moisture resistance.
Hinges are typically made from steel, stainless steel, brass, aluminum, and plastic. Commercial doors typically use stainless steel for heavy duty applications that can resist any types of chemicals and withstand intense use for many years.
The most common types of hinges for commercial applications fall into these categories:
- Removable door: These would require a lift off hinge, slip joint hinge, bullet hinge, flag hinge, block hinge, latch hinge, quick release hinge, or removable pin hinge.
- Fixed door: These doors need a piano hinge, butt hinge, spring hinge, stop hinge, strap hinge, or double action hinge.
- Concealed: For aesthetic and a cleaner appearance, you may select a concealed hinge. These are also good if you need to save space inside or want more security.
- Custom: Larger, thicker, custom shaped, and other types of hinges can be selected depending on the size and type of the door.
8. Calculate Force on Door Hinges
For more information and in-depth knowledge of different loads and moments of force, you can visit this guide to calculating hinge force.
To calculate the force, you need to think of force applied at a distance from the hinge. This equation requires you to calculate the moment of force. This is represented as follows:
In addition, you also want to know the distributed load applied along the door. This is in relation to the height and width of the door. The total result of force is represented as follows:
This is applied at an average position that is represented as h/2 for a total moment represented as:
To equalize both moments, you would use the total equation of:
9. How to Use a Hinge Weight Calculator
Hinge weight calculators typically require you to know the type of door, height of the door, door weight, and number of hinges. You also need to know the type of hinge as follows:
- Nested/recessed door hinge, visible
- Nested/recessed door hinge, concealed
- Surface-mounted door hinge, concealed
- Surface-mounted door hinge, visible
- Surface-mounted door hinge, semi-concealed
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The number of hinges and how they are placed also matters. Most hinges are placed symmetrically. The door weight and type is also necessary to understand the weight of the hinge.
NOTE: be aware that you’re checking the weight in pounds or kilograms.
Try this hinge weight calculator to get recommendations on hinge types and weights.
10. Where to Get Special & Custom Door Hinges
Shopping online for custom door hinges is one way to find unique sizes, different materials, thicker hinges, and other custom designs. However, big box hardware stores may stock an array of hinges for commercial use, you’ll be forced to select from off the shelf products without expert support.
A better way to get special and custom door hinges is to work with a manufacturing provider that will get to know your unique application. They can fine tune a custom solution that meets or exceeds your requirements - removing all guesswork.
Commercial Door Hinge Accessories
The most common types of door hinge accessories include hinge pins, ball tips, acorn tips, and screws. These come in different materials, but steel and brass are the most used.
Here are some typical accessories:
- Tip-on touch latches
- Angle restriction clips
- Compact adapters
- Stainless steel hinge eye bolts
- Door cushions
Commercial Hinge Pin Door Stop
This commercial hinge pin door stop maintains both walls and hardware are safe without putting any unnecessary stress on the door itself, wall, or door frame. The hinge pin stop also works well for doors where a standard door stop will not work. These are available in brass, steel, chrome, and oil-rubbed bronze finishes.
Hinge shims are made to fit behind the hinge plate of a door. These screws are backed out part of the way to allow the door to stay in place while it’s being installed. Hinge shims prevent gaps between the door and hinge, which can prevent problems in the future with doors falling off hinges or becoming loose.
Hinge shims are commonly available in various sizes such as 3 ½”, 4”, and 4 ½” respectively. In general practice, residential doors typically need the smallest size, while a commercial door requires a 4 to 4 ½” hinge shim.
Electrified hinges conduct current whether or not the door is located near exit devices, electric locks, or electric hold-open devices. Concealed switch (CS) hinges allow you to monitor the door position in order to activate a security alarm or other alarm that needs a tamper proof hinge.
These hinges are typically only available as full mortise design. Thicker gauge metal is used for heavyweight electrified hinges.
Custom Hinges for Commercial Applications
If you want to customize your door even further, you can choose a custom hinge that is best for the door weight and application.
Special applications and door types require different hinges. These may be called full mortise, half mortise, full surface, half surface and many other specialty hinges.
For example, there are Full Mortise style Bearing Hinges that are exclusively manufactured for high frequency and/or heavy wood or metal doors. Typical applications would find this hinge type in schools, hospitals or public buildings with high traffic.
When thinking about custom hinges, you should consider the following:
- How will the door be used? Will it need to be a fully revolving door or a 180-degree door, for example?
- How much will it cost to design a special hinge for thickness and size?
- What size of hinge do you need? If you have heavy-duty, large doors that are load-bearing or have additional equipment that hangs on the door, then you may need a different hinge with a custom thickness.
- How big and thick is the door?
- How will you install the hinges? There are four main ways to install hinges including full mortise, half mortise, full surface, or half surface.
- What style and finish do you prefer?
- What material is needed for your industrial application? If you need rust-resistant hinges, then you’ll pick stainless steel. Brass, iron, and bronze are also available.
- Will you need to remove the door or is it fixed?
Manufacturing a Commercial Hinge
Hinge manufacturing refers to the production process. Both hinges and latches are typically made by the same manufacturer, and they begin the process the same way.
To start off, the chosen metal material for the hinge is melted. Once it’s at the right temperature, the manufacturer puts it through several machining processes.
After the hinge is created, it’s put through secondary processes to perfect the thickness, size, and shape. These processes include painting, coating, polishing, plating, rust-proofing, smoothing, or galvanization. These are determined based on the application for the door hinge.
The manufacturer must consider several things when choosing what product mix to manufacture. These include budget, required production volume, design complexity, and required production speed.
Custom Hinge Design
When designing a hinge, manufacturers begin with the main components which are typically the leaves, knuckles, and hinge pin.
The leaves are plates that fold outward, and they are held together by a knuckle or hollow joint. The knuckle is joined to the hinge by a pin.
When installed, the leaves are attached to the separate surfaces that will be held together. Screw holes are drilled into the leaf so that they can be fastened to the door and frame.
The parts of a door hinge are quite simple to fabricate. These include:
This is also called the wing of the hinge, and it’s the flat piece of the hardware that’s screwed into the frame and door.
This long pin slides into the knuckle holding the two leaves together. If you pull the pin out, you can remove the door from the frame. Some doors need removable hinges so that they can easily be lifted and removed.
The middle part of the hinge is called the knuckle, which is a cylindrical case that allows the leaves to rotate causing the door to move.
These are the cylindrical pieces that create the knuckle and hold the pin together.
Special Application Hinges
There are a variety of hinges depending on the application and industry. Hinges may require galvanized steel or other material depending on the temperature and chemical exposure around the door.
Some specialty application hinges include:
- Slip-in hinge
- Flag hinge
- Power hinges
- Friction hinges
- Weld-on hinges
- Bi-fold hinges
- Case hinges
- Off-set hinges
- Overlay hinges
- Panel box hinges
- Take apart hinges
- T hinges
- Decorative hinges
- Knife hinge
- J-bolt pivot hinge
- Barrel hinge
- Invisible hinge
These have a wide range of uses for standard use, high traffic and extra heavy doors.
Example: A welded hinge installation is best when you need to suspend a heavy door. These are capable of holding doors of extreme weights. Bank vaults and blast doors typically use these types of hinges.
For certain industries, warehouses and other businesses in heavy-duty applications need their own unique types of concealed and durable application hinges. A few unique hinge examples include:
Unique hinges can take care of a variety of technical needs, and they can combine various characteristics such as specialty materials, electrification, or convenience features.
Wrapping Up: What Type of Hinge is Right for Your Door?
There are all kinds of hinges out there for commercial applications. Though butt hinges are the most common and can be used for many door types, specialty hinges can offer concealment or specialty hinges can offer solutions for uncommon applications.
So, whether you need an interior or exterior hinge, you must first look at the door weight, any chemical resistances and use application that meets or exceeds the specification required. The right hinge will be able to handle the load and resist corrosion due to exposure to elements, which typically means a non-corrosive material. That’s why it’s best to work with a specification consultant to get your specs right.
However, even the strongest hinge cannot help a door that is not sufficient for your commercial building. You need the right door and hinge to withstand the test of time. Good luck and always consult with a professional first before starting your project.