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What is an Overlay Hinge? And What Makes it Different from Inset Hinges?

The type of cabinet door hinges that you choose can make all the difference in durability and design. One is not necessarily better than another; it just depends on personal preference. Overlay hinges are great for homeowners looking for a more traditional aesthetic, whereas inlay hinges may be better suited to those who want something minimalistic. Learn about the differences between overlay hinges andinset hinges here so you can make the best choice for your home. 

The Definition of Overlay Hinges

An overlay hinge allows the door of a cabinet to cover its frame or panel when closed. The main differences between an inset hinge and an overlay hinge are the style, cost, and function. Inset hinges are often used for decorative purposes and tend to be a bit more expensive than alternatives. These types of hinges are great for inset cupboards, whereasoverlay hinges are traditionally used for overlay cupboards. Overlay hinges also tend to be less expensive and less visible than their counterparts.

What do Overlay Hinges look like?

Overlay Hinges come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and finishes.  Here is a diagram showing the difference between inset, full overlay, and partial overlay cabinets followed by some examples of overlay hinges we currently carry.


Popular Types of Overlay Hinges

Partial Overlay Hinge (Half Crank)

Partial overlay hinges bend at the edge so that they can move the edge of the door closer to the opening's edge. The amount of crank and height of the plate determine where the door’s outer edge lands on the cabinet.

Full Overlay Hinge

These European-style hinges feature a completely straight arm, which makes the offset significantly greater than inset or partial overlay hinge styles. These hinges allow cabinet doors to completely overlay the frame.

How does an Overlay Hinge work?

An overlay hinge allows cabinet doors to lay over the frames of cabinets, i.e., approximately half an inch, 1 ¼ inches, or all the way . Additionally, these overlay cabinet hinges can be semi-concealed or completely concealed.

Overlay Hinges Vs. Inset Hinges

Pros of Inset Hinges

  • Inset Hinges Have a Sleek Appearance:Inset hinges allow cupboard doors to be flush with the frame, which gives them a neat appearance.
  • Inset Hinges May be Decorative: Inset hinges are available in a variety of designs along with a range of metals that easily complement any interior style.
  • 180° Range of Inset Hinges: Inset hinges let you easily open cabinet doors fully. The 180°  range will stop the door from becoming an obstruction when it’s in use.
  • Inset Hinges are Soft-Close: The soft-close nature of inset hinges makes them safe for households with young children to protect them from injury. 

Cons of Inset Hinges

  • Inset Hinges are More Expensive: Inset hinges are the most expensive type of cabinet door hinge you’ll find.
  • Inset Hinges Require Professional Installation: Installing inset hinges requires a professional. It’s not impossible to install inset cabinet hinges yourself, but there’s a greater risk of misaligning the hinges, which could impair the entire cabinet’s structure. 
  • Inset Cabinet Hinges are Non-Adjustable:  A strap hinge or butt hinge cannot be adjusted once it has been installed.
  • Visible Leaves with Inset Hinges: There may be visible leaves in some inset hinge designs, which could be unattractive to some homeowners.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Hidden mounted hinges offer a range of 110° or less. Additionally, cabinet doors could protrude from the frame, which may be an obstruction.

  • Pros of Overlay Hinges

  • Overlay Hinges are More Affordable: Overlay hinges are more affordably priced than inset hinges, which make them an attractive option when choosing cabinet door hinges.
  • Overlay Hinges are Adjustable: Even after they’ve been installed, overlay hinges can still be adjusted with minimal effort.
  • Easy Installation with Overlay Hinges: Overlay hinges are recommended for DIY projects, as they’re relatively easy to install and don’t require professional installation.

  • Cons of Overlay Hinges

  • A Distinct Aesthetic: The main drawback to overlay cabinet door hinges is their appearance; some people find that they are a bit too distinct for their preferred interior style. Keep in mind, however, that this is completely dependent on preference. What doesn’t  work for one home may be perfect for another, so don’t let this deter you from exploring overlay hinges for your space. 

  • Recommended Overlay Hinge Installation Methods

    Overlay hinges are typically installed on the hinge side of cabinet doors.  Here is a step by step instructions on how to install these hinges:

    1. Measure the overlay by measuring the width of your cabinet door minus the width of the cabinet’s opening. Now divide the result by two.
    2. Remove the cabinets and all the hardware and paint the part where your previous hinge was installed.
    3. Once the paint has dried, use an alignment template that comes with the biggest drill bit.
    4. Now align this template to the edge of the door and drill a hole into the center until you reach the bit’s depth.
    5. Now use the screws to screw the hinge back into the cabinet’s frame.
    6. The remaining screws are for adjusting the cabinet door side to side and up to down. Make sure you level the door well using the adjustments.

    Where Can You Get Quality Overlay Hinges?

    Need hinge replacements or replacement parts for your doors or cabinets? Hinge Outlet has it all. We provide free shipping on all orders over $100. Ordered the wrong finish or size? Not a problem. We’ll exchange or refund your product to make sure you’re completely satisfied. 

    What is the right type of hinge for your cabinet door? That depends entirely on you! Affordability, style, and functionality all come into play when choosing the right type of cabinet door hinge. Whether you go with inset hinges, overlay hinges, or another type entirely, Hinge Outlet, Inc. is here to provide you with the supplies you need. 

    For any questions about our door hinges, feel free tocontact us today.