Generally speaking, when we talk about door hinges, we are talking about butt hinges. There are many other types of hinges but the butt hinge is the most common type of hinge found on residential interior and entry doors. Butt hinges can be quite plain but this doesn't have to be the case and often is not in older homes. Today, the Shop 4 Classics Old House Blog turns its spotlight on the butt door hinge.
Butt door hinges have two rectangular leaves. One leaf is mortised into the edge of the door while the other is mortised into the door jamb. The mortised (or recessed) installation allows the door to close flush with the frame. It is also why butt door hinges are sometimes called mortise door hinges or full mortise door hinges. Between the leaves is the joint that allows the hinge to pivot. The joint consists of a pin inside a stacked row of knuckles known as the barrel. At each end of the hinge pin is a finial that caps the barrel at both ends.
Butt hinges are measured from corner to corner of the leaves with the hinge in the open position. There are many sizes but in residential construction, 3.5" x 3.5" butt hinges and 4" x 4" butt hinges are most common. Smaller hinges usually install with three screws while larger butt hinges install with four screws. Door weight, thickness, and size all factor into the size and quantity of hinges required to support a door. Interior doors usually hang on 2 or 3 mortise hinges. Entry doors are normally heavier than interior doors and typically swing on 3 mortise hinges that may be larger than hinges used on interior doors.
Most frequently, the leaves on butt hinges are unembellished. However, in the Victorian Era any visible piece of architectural hardware that could be decorated was decorated. Typical for the period, Victorian butt hinges often have ornate patterns cast into the leaves.
The highest quality butt hinges are cast in brass and offered in a choice of popular finishes to match other door hardware. Polished brass and antique brass door hardware is typical of homes from the Victorian era. Arts & Crafts homes and traditional homes tend to favor earthy finishes such as oil rubbed bronze or antique pewter. Chrome hardware was especially popular in homes from the Art Deco period while modern and contemporary homes are often accented with brushed nickel hardware.
Shop 4 Classics offers butt hinges that include a choice of finials to further complement your home's architectural style. Urn-tipped finials agree with the urn motif that appears in many Federal and Colonial style homes. Victorian butt hinges are frequently decorated with steeple-tipped finials. Nature themes were common to Arts & Crafts homes and so acorn-tipped finials are perfectly suited for homes of this period. Modern and contemporary homes feature butt hinges with flat-tipped or button-tipped finials. And finally, the ubiquitous ball-tipped finials are popular with butt hinges in homes of all eras.
One last thought about butt hinges, the name includes a word that juveniles find amusing. My 3 year old nephew, for example, has become quite enamored with the word "butt"; often to my sister's chagrin. Although no longer socially acceptable, there was a time when his behavior might have been corrected with a strap, which is an entirely different type of hinge. Strap hinges, butt hinges, cabinet door hinges, and socially acceptable hinges of all types can be found at Shop 4 Classics.