Raise your hand if you have ever pushed open a gate that was scraping the ground. Doors and gates that have been properly installed with the correct hardware swing open, and close with ease.
Why is using the right grade, and quantity, of hinges for doors and gates so important? Under the weight of a door (such as the door on a garden shed) or a gate, a lesser grade hinge, not using the recommended number of hinges, and, screw length, can cause the structure to sag and become misaligned. Even the hinge can become damaged.
Outdoor hinges should be manufactured with specifications that give them a weight rating for the load, or weight, that the hinge will be required to support. Some manufacturers do list a weight rating for their hinges, but many do not. We think that knowing the weight rating of an outdoor hinge is important information to have for a successful project.
Those manufacturers that do indicate a maximum weight rating for their hinges, list the rating as either per pair, such as 340 lbs/pair, or for a single hinge.
When purchasing hinges, it is important to notice whether the rating is for a single hinge or a pair of hinges. Another factor to include in determining weight: If you have younger children, or grandchildren, you may want to consider using hinges for a gate that are weight rated for more weight than just the gate, since kids love to climb on structures that swing!
With that said, we have noticed that many of the hinges for outdoor use sold in home improvement and hardware stores do not list the weight rating on the package. Many online sources lack this important information in their product description, too. Many simply indicate that a hinge is ‘heavy duty’, which without a unit of measure does not tell the consumer anything.
If you have ever installed an interior door you know that interior carpentry has established standard guidelines for the size and quantity of hinge that a door would require based on the door’s height, thickness, and weight (solid vs. hollow-core), and material (wood, steel, fiberglass, etc) which also effects the door’s weight. Outdoor hardware installations warrant the same level of consideration.
We have found a few hinge manufacturers (some are mentioned in the description in above photos) that understand the importance of such information for outdoor application, and they have included a weight rating in their product description. It’s difficult to understand why some manufacturers do not include this information.
If you buy a hinge described as ‘heavy duty’ and without a weight rating, you should be prepared to have to make repairs to your gate or door down the road.
Heavy Duty is a Relative Term
In large scale projects, such as designing a double entry gate for a driveway that spans 12’ for example, a landscape architect would design and detail the gate and the structure that would support the gate, then send the design drawings to the iron forger or metal shop, where a shop drawing would be created for the required hardware based on the mass of each of the 6’ gates. These specifications are used for the manufacturing of the project’s heavy duty hinges with the appropriate weight rating. You can see how the term ‘heavy duty’ is relative.
Most homeowners don’t have 6’ entry gates, and are not in need of a hinge of that scale. But don’t underestimate the weight of a regular gate or a garden shed door – either can be quite heavy, and the correct grade of hinge is important for these structures to work properly. If an outdoor hinge is not weight rated, the consumer cannot really be sure if they are purchasing the correct grade of hinge, and how many hinges they need to use.
Photo credit: Hardware Source, 360yardware, Hinge and Latch