Hanging a Door: Hinges or Pivots?

Look at most any door throughout the course of a day and you’ll notice that almost all of them are swing on hinges rather than pivots.  Hinges are standard fare when it comes to door hanging, and most people assume that this is for good reason.

However, there are some compelling reasons to choose pivots over hinges for doors.  Aesthetics aside, pivots provide a number of advantages in many applications.

Hinges, by their very nature, work against the forces of gravity.  Installing a door requires a certain degree of precision, because doors that do not hang properly will not function as designed.  If they are hung too low, they may scrape the floor, damage the frame/threshold, and/or damage the bottom of the door.  Doors hung too high will scrape the top of the frame.  In either case, they may be unable to close properly.  Too much space at the top or bottom can allow drafts to enter in the winter and cool air to escape in the summer.  Working with the force of gravity rather than against it ensures that doors do not warp and floors and frames remain intact.

The biggest drawback to hinges is that the weight of the door on which they are hung pulls downward (with gravity) on an angle.  Eventually, their effectiveness is compromised due to this continuous angular pull.  Screws can become loose and screw threads may strip.  The frame and/or jamb can bend, warp, splinter and even break.  The door may eventually drop or slope downward toward the side on which it opens.

When choosing hinges over pivots, it’s critical to choose strong, sturdy, well-built hinges, such as Ives.  It’s important to choose the correct gauge for the size and weight of the door they are being applied to.  It’s also essential to use the right number of hinges.  For example, larger-than-standard doors may need to have extra hinges instead of the standard three in order to minimize the tension created by gravitational pull.  Hinges should also be checked regularly for wear and tear, and replaced as necessary, preferably BEFORE they become warped or stripped.

The major advantage of pivots is that they eliminate the problem of angular tension.  While hinges are mounted on the door jamb, pivots are installed on the top and the bottom of the door/frame.  The pivot at the top acts as a guide for the swing of the door and keeps it aligned.  The bottom pivot bears the entire weight of the door.  Instead of creating tension on the door frame, pivots transfer the door’s weight into the floor.  This means that doors are not prone to dropping and sloping in the same way they are with hinges.

~ by pixiejen on June 10, 2009.

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