How to choose shed door hinges

The first thing to consider when choosing shed door hinges is are they for ornament or security?

I am only going to discuss normal utility hinges in here, but don’t give up if you are interested in ornamental hinges. The same principles apply regarding strength and corrosion resistance however you will be paying more for a more bespoke item.

The majority of utility shed doors are of the board and batten type which don’t have a frame. Hinges for this type of door are of necessity surface mounted. As most shed doors open outwards the hinges are located on the outside of the shed.

The most common type of shed hinge is the 'T' hinge. This has a short cross to the T for fixing to the door jamb and a long strap which fixes across the face of the door. The major problem with surface fixed hinges is that the fixings are exposed and accessible to potential intruders.

There are a few ways to make this type of hinge more intruder resistant. The simplest is to use screws with several different types of head. This would include a mixture of traditional slot headed screws, Philips screws and Torx screws. Using this strategy could slow down a thief but not stop an attempt to remove the hinge using a jemmy/crowbar. The crowbar would simply strip the threads out of the wood.

shed door hinges T Hinge fixed with 4 different type of screw heads

How to make the shed door hinges more secure?

An improvement on security (and appearance) is to use a dome-headed coach bolt which passes through the hinge and the door ledger. The dome head cannot be turned with a screw driver. The nut and washer on the back of the door ledger/frame makes it almost impossible to use a crowbar to pull off the door hinge.

shed door hinges T Hinge fixed with dome headed coach bolts

shed door hinges Section showing coach bolts passing through door frame and ledger

From this point, making the door more secure means choosing shed door hinges with thicker metal and larger holes so that you can fit a larger bolt. Typically a 3/8" or 8 mm diameter bolt is OK. From this point, you come up against the law of diminishing returns. It becomes easier for an intruder to break through the door than get an angle grinder to cut the hinge bolts.

We have looked at securing the hinge to the door

But what about the strength of the hinge itself?

Shed door hinges come in a variety of lengths and material thickness. The table below gives the arbitrary strength grading and length from a typical hinge supplier.

shed door hinges Table showing manufacturers classification of T hinges

Generally, a longer hinge made of thicker steel will support a heavier door. And bigger, stronger hinges are more resistant to unwanted attention.

An old carpenters rule of thumb for determining the required length of a T hinge is: 'One third of the width of the door and add 1 inch for every foot in height.'

So for a shed door that is 2'6" wide and 6' high then a hinge 16 inches (400mm) long would be needed.

In addition to the hinge material, inspect the hinge pin itself. Is it possible to drive the pin out with the aid of a screwdriver and a few blows of a hammer? If this is the case then it is easier for an intruder to remove the hinge pins and the whole door than attack the screws securing the hinge to the door.

The above points should give you some steer on selecting and fixing shed door hinges.

The next thing to consider is how to choose a long-lasting hinge?

When you look in a hardware store you may find up to four varieties of T hinges made of different materials and with differing finishes.

Three of the hinges will be made of mild steel. Mild steel hinges typically come in one of three different protective coatings.

These coatings are;

  1. Zinc passivated. - Zinc passivated hinges look smoother and shinier than their galvanised equivalent. However they are only suited to indoor environments. They have less than 1/10 th of the protective coating of the galvanised hinge and will most likely start to rust in less than a year outside.

  2. Painted/powder coated (typically black). - The painted or powder coated hinges rely on the integrity of the coating to protect them from the onset of corrosion. If they are scratched or the coating damaged they can be repainted but the onset of corrosion is difficult to eliminate completely. This finish does look good on antique effect hinges, so can be used with care.

  3. Galvanised. - The king of finishes is galvanising. The item is dipped in a bath of hot zinc to give an irregular/rough but not unattractive silvery finish. The coating is 'self-healing', in that if the coating is scratched the zinc corrodes in preference to the steel beneath and forms a coating of zinc oxide that protects the surface beneath.

shed door hinges 'Artists' representation of shed hinge finishes

The importance of choosing the right coating shouldn't be understated. Replacing a hinge that has become covered in rust a couple of years after finishing your shed build is probably not worth the minor cost saving.

The cost difference between the zinc passivated and the powder coated hinges is about 10-15%.

The difference between the powder coated and the galvanised is another 10% or so.

As you might expect the more corrosion protection a hinge has the more it costs. Though in terms of expected lifespan it is probably worth it.

You probably wont be interested in the fourth variety of hinge

The fourth variety of hinge is made of stainless steel. These cost about four times as much as an equivalent galvanised steel hinge.

In my view this type of hinge is not worth the extra cost for using on your average shed. However they are highly corrosion resistant. They could be worth consider for a shed that will be exposed to a harsh marine environment for a long time. However I think that most beach hut owners manage just fine with galvanised hinges.

In summary

Shed door hinges are an important part of securing your shed. Appropriate selection of hinges and fixings can increase a doors resistance to unwanted attention.

This article has shown you how to secure the hinge side of a shed door. Now read this next article to find out how to make the lock side of the door as thief-proof as possible. Read more about shed door locks

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