T-hinges are as much a part of the style of a country cottage doorway as the door they hold up. Unlike its more common cousins that are usually hidden from view, the t-hinge sits proudly exposed on top of the wood even when closed. For the most visual impact you can combine hinges with a traditional Suffolk latch both in a black finish to contrast perfectly with the beautiful natural finish of a ledge and brace door.
There is some debate as to the best place to fit the T Hinge…
How to fit T Hinges with your barn door
Should the long distinctive arm be on the front face or fixed to the back? If you are fixing the hinges so the supporting arm of the t-hinge is on the back, should you have the arm fixed along the length of the ledges or just above and below the ledges? Here’s a guide to help you choose and also how to hang the door with t-hinges.
First things first: You will need to hold the door in the doorway to check the fit, this is even recommended for made to measure doors just to be sure. This guide is focused on t-hinges, the kind of hinges that are most commonly associated with country cottage doors. Country cottage door frames are renowned for their irregularity in shape for a whole manner of reasons including subsidence.
Carefully measure the doorway both at the top and the bottom to assess any irregularities then subtract a few millimetres for a fit that is close but will open freely. Remember you will need a bigger gap at the bottom if you have carpet but take a small amount off at a time and then offer the door up to the doorway each time. You can always take more off but you can’t put it back on again!
Where to Fix the T-hinges
Once you are sure the door is a perfect fit you need to choose where to put the t-hinges. Here you will need a glamorous assistant to hold the door in place whilst you choose what looks best. In some cases the door frame and the size of the room it leads in to may give you only one option.
For example, usually a door should open inwards from a communal area to a more private area, so as not to block something like a corridor when opened. But if you were fitting a door to a small downstairs toilet under the stairs then opening inwards may not be the best option.
If you have the freedom to choose, then your options are to have the support arm on the front face of the door or the back of the door.
Some door frames will allow you to choose having t-hinges on the front or back of the door but others may have a lining that will mean the hinges will have to be fixed in a specific way to ensure the door can be opened properly. This is why it is so important to hold the door up to the frame and assess how the door will work in practice. Use wedges to firmly hold it in place and also remember to ensure any light switches are on the latch side of the door not the t-hinge (otherwise the switches will be hidden by the open door).
Mark Out and Fix the T-hinge
Once you are sure you have the right position for the t-hinge mark out the screw holes on the door and mark out the position of the t-hinge plate on the door frame. Sometimes t-hinges can be fitted to the outside part of the frame so a section of the architrave will need to be cut out instead. Now screw the t-hinge to the door. It is best to do this with the door on a dry floor or on top of two saw horses. With your assistant put the door back in the frame and check it against the marks previously made for the t-hinge plate on the frame. Do this with the door in the open position if you need to, using the wedges so the door can be securely held.
Fix T-hinge Plate to Door frame
Depending of how you decided to fix the t-hinges (front or back of door) you will need to chisel out the shallow recesses for the hinge to sit in the frame. When drilling in to the frame start with thin pilot holes using a narrow gauge drill bit to ensure exact positioning for the full size drill holes to follow. Once you have screwed the door to the frame check how it swings, as long as the door was measured and cut precisely at the start you should have a perfect opening door. Any problems with clearance may be due to the depth of the hinge recess in the frame, it’s possible to pack out these recesses with thin card to fine tune the fit.