Flip-up countertops and other counterbalanced hinge solutions offer multiple advantages for hospitality spaces and other business applications.
A hinged countertop has long been a staple of many room designs, like bars and restaurant kitchens. But modern engineering offers major improvements on standard bar flap hinges and other countertop pass-throughs.
What Is a Counterbalance-Hinged Countertop?
A counterbalance-hinged countertop can make life more convenient for both customers and employees by:
- Expanding design options
- Adding convenience
- Giving you back some counter space
- Improving safety
- Giving a professional look
- Boosting speed of service
- Reducing strain on employees
Perhaps you’ve been In a fancy hotel or restaurant and noticed a flip-up bar counter that workers are able to lift seemingly like magic. The easy and smooth use is thanks to counterbalancing -- it can make 45 lbs. feel like 5. Even if you haven’t seen a counterbalance in a bar, you’ve definitely seen the technology before, such as on your grill.
The easiest definition of counterbalancing is this – a weight or force that offsets or reduces another weight or force. A well-designed counterbalancing system uses springs that customize the amount of weight the user feels when lifting a door, cover, or lid.
(Additional Resource: Check out the free LiftGate Assistant Lid Calculator!)
7 Advantages of Counterbalancing for Your Business
So counterbalancing makes it easier to open lids. Neat. How does that translate into benefits for your business?
1. More Design Options
In countertop design there is a trend toward:
- Rustic wood
- Reclaimed lumber
Because these materials are especially heavy, you physically cannot use them in a countertop unless you have a counterbalance hinge. Using counterbalancing opens up design opportunities without putting anyone in danger.
A heavy bar flap is no fun to lift -- which means there’s a good chance some employees will keep it open permanently.
Bar countertop hinges are easy and convenient to lift. It takes so little effort to lift these bar tops that employees are more likely to keep it down when it should be. (More on why you should be doing that in a bit …)
3. More Counter Space
We’ve established that you no longer have to DIY a way to leave your countertop permanently open. That means your bar top hinge can be pulled down when it needs to be, allowing for more counter space.
That also gives you more room to work in kitchen applications and other areas where you need to maximize counter space. Space savings can be a major benefit if your bar or restaurant has limited square footage.
A standard kitchen pass-through countertop needs to be secure when in the lifted position. It’s common for a lift-up countertop to weigh 40 lbs. or more.
Unfortunately, hooks and other DIY solutions can break, be installed incorrectly, or fail in some other way. That can lead to the countertop falling and seriously injuring an employee, or perhaps even worse, a customer.
A countertop lift with proper counterbalance design does not present the same dangers. It will stay where you leave it and doesn’t drop anywhere within a range that could harm anyone.
5. Professional Look
A basic lift-up hinge is cheap-looking, and it’s quite loud when it crashes. It won’t look or sound as smooth and sharp as a counterbalance hinge design.
6. Speed of Service
Think how many times bartenders and servers go through the pass-through each shift. Every time they have to lift a 50-lb. countertop, it costs them time and energy.
If they only had to lift 5 lbs. each time, they’d be able to move around much more quickly to serve your customers.
7. Less Strain on Employees
Again, think of the weight of the lid multiplied by the number of times a worker lifts it each day.
A counterbalanced lid or countertop is going to cause far less strain on your employees, both short- and long-term Lifting of a heavy countertop over and over is hard on the neck and back, which could lead to repetitive stress injuries.
Consider the ROI of a nice-looking countertop that keeps your employees fresh.
Example of a Counterbalance-Hinged Countertop
Now that you know the benefits of a counterbalance-hinged countertop, want to see a practical application?
Recently, the Weber Knapp team installed flip-top bar counters in multiple King’s Fish House restaurant locations. In the fast-paced bar/restaurant environment, the counterbalanced-hinged pass-through countertop really makes a difference for the employees. They can move about the restaurant floor faster, decreasing workplace congestion. The force it takes to lift the counterbalance-hinged bar is very minimal, allowing servers to carry more on their trays and still be able to move the bar top.
Plus, the flip-top counter matches the wooden bar, giving the whole bar a uniform, seamless aesthetic.
If you want to learn more about the King’s Fish House project, you can check out the full case study here!
Applications for Counterbalance Hinges
The hospitality industry is an obvious use for counterbalancing. But there are other industries that could use counterbalanced lift-up hinges:
- Post offices
- Outdoor kitchens
- Indoor kitchens -- both residential and commercial
- Tiny houses
- Motor homes
- Anywhere else a countertop would be used
If you’ve got questions about where counterbalance technology could be used to improve your product or interior design, check out this additional info on countertops:
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in November 2019 and has since been updated.