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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How to Measure the Overlay of Hinges & Cabinet Doors

When referring to an "overlay" people will often mean two different things. There is an overlay on your cabinets, and overlay of the hinge. In order for the cabinet doors to function properly you will need to match these to each other. I'll show you how to measure both below.

If you already have your hinges and you want to determine what the overlay of the hinge so that you can replace them then you can determine the overlay very simply. Below are two shots of two different 1/2" overlay hinges. The overlay is the distance from the corner wraparound part of the hinge and the barrel. This OVERLAYS, or overlaps, the cabinet door with the cabinet door opening.

Here are two examples shown on the semi-wraparound 1/2" overlay hinges.

how to measure hinge overlay

Most overlay hinges will either be 1/4",  3/8", or 1/2". So if you are measuring and it's really close to 1/4", 3/8", or 1/2", then just round to the nearest overlay increment as long as it's quite close. Depending on how the hinge is made the measurements will vary a millimeter or two but that won't end up affecting anything. Be sure and measure just up to where the hinge turns down. Do not measure to the outside of the hinge.

Fin the overlay of your hinge

There are also hinges that are called "variable overlay" which mount on the outside of the cabinet and allow the builder to simply slide the hinge to whatever location or overlay is needed. Variable overlay hinges are a much more flexible option but aren't quite as sturdy as they don't wrap around the cabinet at all. Unless you have very heavy cabinet doors then variable overlay hinges will still be sufficiently strong. Here's what a variable overlay hinge looks like. Screws will be visible when using a variable overlay hinge.

variable overlay hinge
There is also one more kind of overlay hinge in the full wraparound. The full wraparound overlay hinge adds a lot of sturdiness to the cabinet doors and would be appropriate for very heavy doors. The full wraparound hinge looks like the one below and wraps entirely around the faceframe. You can see the extra lip at the bottom as being different from the partial wrap hinges at the top.

Full wraparound brass hinge

Once you understand what the overlay of a hinge is it is very easy to determine how far your cabinets are overlaying in your kitchen or wherever they are. As you can see below the 1/2" overlay of the hinges above is marked with the red line. A 1/2" overlay hinge overlays the cabinet door 1/2" past the opening of the cabinet. Whatever the distance of the highlighted red area, that is the overlay of your cabinet door.

And of course if this doesn't answer all your questions we've got experts on hand to answer any of your questions and make sure you get the exact hinge you need.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for making this so simple. Never installed hinges before. Now I know. TY!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the description. I have an overlap hinge I am trying to replace and not having much luck. Do you have an email address that I could send a photo to

D. Lawless Hardware said...

You can send any questions to lawlesshardware @ if you like. Thanks!