Purchasing door blanks for your home gives you with a wider range of design opportunities than buying pre-hung doors. You'll often find more slab doors in stock, and you might even be able to pick up a vintage door to re-use for your home. Yet when the door comes without hinges, should you flush-mount the hinges? Or where do they go exactly?
The process of installing door hinges on door blanks and sinking them flush is a process called mortising. This allows the door to open and close properly.
Basics of Installing Door Hinges on Blanks
A door hinge is installed so that one half of the hinge is on the door frame and the other half of the hinge is on the side of the door. Unless the door is pre-hung on an attached doorframe, this is an essential step to hanging a door.
A door hinge must be mortised into the door so that the top of the hinge is flush with the door. If the hinge were surface-mounted on the door (or the door frame), the door would not be able to close.
When mortising, keep in mind that the hinge must be level across the surface. If it is uneven or if it is mounted below the surface-level, the door will not close properly.
Mortising a door hinge with a hammer and chisel is the traditional method and it is still widely used today. Though it is a simple process, you do need to be slow and patient to avoid cutting too deeply and splintering away other parts of the door. If you do not own a quality wood chisel, buy one at your local home center or hardware store.
Types of Door Hinges
Ball-Bearing Door Hinges: These hinges have sealed pins that cannot be removed. These hinges swing easily, last for years, and are good for heavy doors.
Pin Door Hinge: These classic hinges have pins that can be removed by tapping them upward with a nail and a hammer. Pin door hinges are good for interior doors and are especially beneficial when you are undertaking a home project that requires door removal.
Spring Door Hinges: With internal springs, these door hinges close a door automatically. Spring door hinges are good for garages and for back doors.
Codes, Regulations, and Permits
Hinge placement affects the direction of the door swing. In some instances, the door must swing in the direction of egress. Check with your building department for door swing requirements.
Always wear eye protection working with a hammer, chisel, and file. Chisels are sharp, so cut away from the direction of your body.