I love doing hardware upgrades. Not the new installs where you need to make sure your router and drill jigs are carefully planned and perfectly measured. But the hardware upgrades where you just swap something out. These are some of the easiest home improvements to do, require minimal tools as well as very little experience, and can be done at your own pace without unsettling your home.
Now, hardware may not transform a room, especially hinges that are hidden, but they do help complete a room, provide daily usefulness, and give you that feel-good sense of accomplishment with little effort involved.
There is a little homework involved in choosing the correct cabinet hinge upgrade, especially for some of the brands with large product lines. The door style, door thickness and hinge type all play a role. Once all this information is sorted out you should hopefully be able to find a soft-close hinge that is a direct retrofit to the existing hinge, or just choose one of the many independent dampers and keep your current hinges.
What are the different cabinet hinges?
The most common categories of cabinet hinges will be concealed, semi-concealed and surface-mount.
A concealed – often referred to as European – style of hinge will be completely internal so there is no visible part of the hinge when the door is closed.
The door itself will have a round hole drilled (using a forstner bit) where the hinge cup is installed. Then depending on if you have a a frame or frameless cabinet, there will be several variations of mounting plates to attach the other end of the hinge to the cabinet enclosure.
Both types of hinges will have model choices where the soft-close mechanism is incorporated into or as an attachment to the hinge.
Concealed Face Frame / Compact Image Courtesy of Blum
Concealed Frameless Image Courtesy of SALICE
Both the semi-concealed and surface-mount hinges will have a portion of the hinge exposed when the cabinet door is closed. Neither hinge has an integrated soft-close option, but you can use the variety of individual soft-close dampers mentioned in this article.
Semi-Concealed and Surface-Mount Image Courtesy of Amerok
For more assistance, try the cabinetparts.com hinge replacement service, and they carry many of the top brands of hinges at a competitive price.
Blum refers to their soft-close system as BLUMOTION, which comes in a range of products.
1) CLIP top BLUMOTION hinges have integrated BLUMOTION located the hinge cup. Also equipped with a deactivation switch.
Why have a deactivation switch? You may find that small and light-weight doors aren’t heavy enough to close the damper or large doors with 3 soft-close hinges only need 2 of the dampers activated to close effectively. The deactivation switch is a helpful fine-tune adjustment feature.
2) COMPACT BLUMOTION hinges are specifically designed for face frame cabinets. The soft-close feature is built right into the hinge cup and can be deactivated for small or light doors.
3) CLIP top soft-close hinge feature is achieved by adding the separate BLUMOTION device (973A).
4) 970A – 971A are independent soft-close mechanisms that mount to the cabinet frame. For more information visit the Blum media center and select hinge systems.
The GRASS group has European beginnings, with a US manufacturing and distribution division being established in 1977. You’ll find top-tier drawer and door systems for kitchen and bath cabinets, with a claim to “Introducing the world’s first concealed furniture hinge”.
1) Tiomos is the companies flagship hinge, offering an adjustable soft-close mechanism integrated and concealed in the hinge arm. The closing process is said to be “extremely smooth” because the soft-close is activated until the door is completely shut.
2) Nexis is a free swinging hinge in standard form, but can be upgraded with an easy to attach optional soft-close damper.
3) TEC soft-close hinge system with built-in damper is designed for face frame cabinets. An adjustment switch is located on the face of the hinge that will regulate the closing action of the door. The TEC soft-close is based on the ever popular 3-dimensional TEC face frame hinge with a variety of overlays offered.
4) UniSoft is a universal soft-close adapter that mounts and works independently of the cabinet door hinges.
- Works for face frame cabinets on all door overlays
- Works for frameless cabinets on full overlay doors
- Is manually adjustable to desired closing speed
- Has a scratch protector and front bumper with cushion for a quiet close
Salice is named after its Italian founder, Arturo Salice, and the company headquarters still resides in Italy, keeping to it’s heritage.
1) Lapis series soft-close hinges build upon the Silentia line. Made of two covers, the hinge elements move synchronously, hiding the technical components and enriching the product with refined aesthetics, far from the traditional geometries of furniture hinges. With 12 colors available, and the mounting plate and hinge cup covers being separate, this provides 144 color combinations (solid or 2-tone).
2) Silentia soft-close hinges have the damper integrated into the hinge and come in the traditional chrome finish. Available for various door thickness, angles, and metal profiles. Not available for frame cabinets.
3) Smove dampers come in several configurations to independently work with any cabinet and door combination.
The Sugatsune concealed hinge lineup isn’t as diverse as the other brands mentioned, but sometimes a basic and uncomplicated product catalog can be the perfect solution.
Keeping with the simplicity, you have a painless choice of one add-on damper, which comes in two sizes (230-SCA/19 and 230-SCA/9), depending on hinge overlay dimensions.