What Are Concealed Hinges and How Do They Work

Hinges play a critical role in a wide range of assemblies, including cabinets, dressers, drawers, doors, and more. For doors in particular, these mechanical bearings allow them to swing open with ease. Rather than using typical hinges, many furniture manufacturers take advantage of concealed hinges, which provide a similar range of rotation to their counterparts, but are hidden from plain sight for a seamless appearance.

Concealed hinges remain out of view when the door or surface on which they are installed is closed. Also called hidden hinges, they are designed with a cup, arm, and mounting frame rather than the same leaf-and-knuckle design that standard hinges feature. The cup is the portion of the hinge that is installed on the door, whereas the arm is the long lever-like part. Meanwhile, the mounting frame is the element that secures the concealed hinge to the frame. Regardless of the concealed hinge in question, all of them feature a cup, arm, and mounting frame as their primary components.

Apart from providing a smooth, minimal appearance, concealed hinges are easy to install with many of them requiring nothing more than a set of small screws for installation. In the industrial sector, concealed hinges are often capable of supporting doors weighing up to 90 pounds. Such capabilities have made it so concealed hinges are manufactured with additional features like soft-close, adjustable arms, and easy dismount options. More than that, they are fabricated from numerous types of metals, including steel, zinc, stainless steel, and aluminum. Furthermore, heavy-duty concealed hinges can be zinc-plated, passivated, or electropolished.

Types of Concealed Hinges

Overlay and reveal are two terms often utilized when specifying cabinet door designs and concealed hinge specifications. These two dimensions affect the door position and overall appearance of the assembly. The term overlay is generally used to outline how much of the cabinet or cabinet frame’s edge is covered by the door. Opposite of the overlay is the reveal, which points to the portion of the edge or frame of the cabinet that is not covered by the door. With different amounts of overlay and reveal, there are four main classifications to look at when it comes to concealed hinges, all of which are described below.

Full Overlay Concealed Hinges

Full overlay concealed hinges are used in cabinets where the door is situated at the front of the cabinet box or frame. When the cabinet is closed, the periphery of the door’s backside mates against the edge of the cabinet panels.

Half Overlay Concealed Hinges

With half overlay concealed hinges, two cabinet doors rest on top of the cabinet’s frame and meet in the center of it. At the point where the two doors meet, there is a partitioning wall that is the portion of the cabinet where the concealed hinge is attached. Meanwhile, the concealed hinges are positioned so that the two doors can be opened simultaneously without hitting each other.

Inset Concealed Hinges

Doors that use inset concealed hinges fit inside the cabinet panel or frame; thus, the installation lacks overlay. In this design, the outer face of the door is flush with the outer surface of the frame or edge of the cabinet box, and the hinge arm is highly cranked. More than that, the mounting plate will be raised to fully eliminate the overlay.

Pivot Concealed Hinges

Pivot concealed hinges are utilized in cabinets that feature inset doors where the hinges must be visible. They have two flat leaves, an L bracket attached to one of the leaves and the knuckle, and a permanent or removal pin. Generally, they open and close smoothly, and they are designed to hold lightweight doors in a variety of industrial applications.


NSN Orbit is a leading distributor of concealed hinges, all of which have been sourced from countless trusted manufacturers on our Approved Vendor List (AVL). With over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items on our database, customers have a plethora of options to choose from. Explore our vast catalogs at your leisure and submit Request for Quote (RFQ) forms on any items of interest. For one-on-one assistance, you may contact us via phone or email at any time!


May 17, 2023
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