Unlike the old days when door hinges were made of iron, brass or steel, todays hinges come in an array of materials and finishes. Thanks to modern manufacturing techniques, most of these finishes are maintenance free. Left alone, they wont tarnish, rust or fail over time. What do begin to fail are the screws that hold the door hinges on the door and the frame. The stresses and strains of everyday openings begin to loosen the screws. This is particularly true on heavier doors that are either left open a lot or bear lots of traffic.
Another related lefty-righty question is: Does it really matter if you mix up right- and left-hanging cabinet door hinges? Not usually. Most door and cabinet door hinges can masquerade as each other if you rotate them 180°. The pins will drop in the same way and everything. In rare cases, the pin only goes in one way, the cabinet door hinges plate is shaped or decorated to only look right on its right (or left!) side. If in doubt, ask a contractor or cabinetmaker. Tip: If you are going to take your old doors or cabinet doors off, refinish them, and put them back on, I suggest labeling each of the cabinet door hinges as you take them off. In your kitchen for example, the top left-hanging hinge on the first cabinet on the east side of your kitchen could be marked: TLE1. That way everything will line up exactly as it did before you took them down.
There are several types of door hinge available. The most common is the butt hinge. This consists of two flaps with screw holes attached by a pin or a rod. To take the door down all you would have to do is remove the pins. You can choose to add finials or balls to the pins for a decorative touch. Garage doors are usually attached with T-hinges. Shaped like the letter T the horizontal part is attached to the door frame while the vertical part is attached to the door. These hinges can be plain or ornamental and lift up rather than out. If you have folding doors you might use a Soss hinge. Named for its inventor this door hinge is recessed into the door edges so when the door is folded it is completely concealed. It must be installed exactly or it will not work.
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