Everything to Know About Pivot Hinges

Find out how pivot hinges can put the swing in your home's doors, from cabinets to kitchens.

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On the basketball court, pivoting—keeping one foot solidly in place on the floor while turning your body in either direction—is a critical skill of the game. That same concept is important in the world of hinges, too. And there’s a special piece of hardware for it. Here’s everything you need to know about the pivot hinge.

What Is a Pivot Hinge?

A pivot hinge allows a door to pivot from a single point at the top and bottom of the door. Pivot hinges are different than butt hinges, which are attached at the side of a door and have a pin. Pivot hinges are attached to the top and bottom of a door, and to the head of the frame and the floor. And, pivot hinges allow a door to swing in either direction.

If you’ve got sagging or sticking doors, watch this video for tips on how to fix them.

What Are Pivot Hinges Used For?

Pivot hinges are often installed in high-traffic doorways. Because you can open doors that have pivot hinges by pushing on them, they’re used in restaurants, where waiters need to move in and out easily while carrying trays. But pivot hinges also work well in homes, in doorways between kitchens and dining rooms. And because the bottom bracket of pivot hinges is anchored to the floor, they can handle heavier doors than some other hinges. They’re also used in cabinetry, for example on the doors of an entertainment center.

What Are Pivot Hinge Types?

Besides a standard pivot hinge, there are self-closing (used primarily in commercial applications) and offset pivot hinges.

Here’s how to make old hinges look like new!

How Does an Offset Pivot Hinge Work?

Offset pivot hinges allow a door to swing clear of the inside frame. You’d use one when a door needs to open out of the way, giving clear access to the entire doorway. With offset pivot hinges, you need to purchase the hinges according to the side of the door on which they will be located. (Determining the proper side of the door is called handing.)

How to Install a Pivot Hinge

For a door to swing properly, you need to accurately measure the location of the hinge plates and sockets. You start by marking the location of the top hinge and then use a plumb bob to locate the bottom hinge at the door bottom and the floor. Install the top hinge and then the bottom part of the hinge that attaches to the bottom of the door. Position the door, and then attach the bottom plate to the floor.

Where Can I Buy Pivot Hinges?

You’ll find them at a number of online retailers, including Rockler (for cabinet hinges) and Amazon.com.

Did you know that you can buy entire cabin kits on Amazon.com, too? Check them out!

Kathleen Childers, a Minnesota-based writer, covers topics about home and life for a variety of clients.