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 manufacturer 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.
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