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Doors 101: What is the Difference Between American and European Hinge Placement?

Have you ever wondered why your swinging doors sag down at the upper corner? Not only is it unsightly, but if it's especially crooked, it can even lead to problems in operation. If your door is sagging low enough, it can scratch the floor, or the handle/lockset may stop latching. It's a real headache all around.

Many other online articles about this subject will tell you that replacing or maintaining your door hinges will fix this problem. But we're here to tell you a little-known secret about why doors do this in the first place. It isn't always that the hinges are worn out. Sometimes it's the placement of those hinges themselves that causes your door to sag.

What do door hinges do?

Your door hinges perform many functions, chiefly connecting the door slab to the jamb/door opening in the wall. They allow your door to swing open and closed. But hinges are also the only things keeping your door upright. They have to work against gravity to support the weight of the door. This is why if your hinges are loosening with time or weren't properly installed, it can affect how your door hangs in the opening.

What's American hinge placement?

door slab with American hinge placement on the right

American hinge placement is the common placement in North America. A set of three hinges will be evenly spaced along the door slab--one towards the bottom, one towards the top, and one towards the bottom. It has an aesthetically pleasing, symmetrical look. But it's also the source of door sagging over time. This is because the hinges are not working to support the door where gravity is pulling it the hardest--towards the top.

What's European hinge placement?

door slab with European hinge placement on the right

European hinge placement (not to be confused with European style hidden hinges) is the favored placement in Europe. It places more of the hinges towards the top of the door--so most standard-sized swinging doors will have two hinges at the top of the door, and one on the bottom. This arrangement doesn't look as pleasing or as symmetrical. But it's the most robust defense against gravity available, and will keep your door square in the opening for longer.

Which hinge placement is right for me?

At RealCraft, we will make doors with either hinge placement! Bringing your unique vision to life is what we're all about, and a lot of people simply prefer the look of the American hinge placement. But if you're undecided, we always recommend European hinge placement for the sake of increased longevity. And especially if your doors are heavy--if you're using a super dense hardwood or it's a large door--European hinge placement is really your best bet for reliable operation.

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