At the risk of being the bearer of bad news, here’s a hard truth: nearly three million homes are burglarized each year. Your exterior door locks are your first line of defense, and you want those locks to be as secure and as Bruce Willis in Unbreakable as possible.
There are a wide range of exterior locks available depending on your budget, so here are some things for you to consider when purchasing exterior locks for your new home or replacing the existing locks on your current home.
Exterior lock prices can vary from $25 to $300, but know that you get what you pay for. While your particular lock needs might not require a heavy-duty commercial-grade industrial lock, you also don't want your home's first line of security to be a flimsy lock that's no better than a door latch. Generally speaking, higher cost means higher security.
A deadbolt lock offers the highest level of security. When selecting your deadbolt lock, your first consideration is whether to get one that is mounted separately from the lockset, or purchase a handle set that incorporates both features. Take note: a handle set allows you to open both the deadbolt and the latch from inside with one motion, which is more convenient and also preferable in case of an emergency.
Every lock come with a security rating ranging from Grade 1 (heavy-duty commercial) to Grade 3 (lower-end consumer). At minimum, we would recommend at least a Grade 2 rating for any exterior door. Some experts recommend a Grade 1 deadbolt with a one-inch throw.
This is an anti-theft option that is key — all puns aside! — to your security. It prevents burglars from jimmying the latch open with a credit card.
Our best selling deadbolt is the Multi-Lock MT5+, which is both pick and bump resistant and requires a heavy amount of force to break open. Typically "high security" deadbolts like Multi-Lock and Medeco are enough of a visual deterrent that I rarely see attempted openings. My favorite lock on the list, "The Crazy Ex-Husband," is either a Multi-Lock or Medeco tubular deadbolt. It got its name from an emergency night call I responded to where a crazy ex-husband had smashed away at the lock and door and the deadbolt held! I was able to secure the door with the same quality hardware and repair the damaged area (which held till a new door arrived).
The deadbolt is only as strong as the strike plate it engages, so you want to make sure you have one that can withstand some force. A heavy-duty strike plate with three-inch screws will do the trick. And hardened pins can withstand sawing, so add that to your "must-have" lock checklist.
Obviously you want a lock that looks good and matches your home's exterior as well as your personal design tastes. Thankfully, there is as wide a variety of lock designs and finishes as there are security features and gradings, but as you're shopping around for the lock that best suits you and your needs – and "makes the grade" in terms of security (we're on a roll here!) — there are a couple of aesthetic points to consider as well. Be sure to equip your door with dual-torque springs (this prevents knobs from sagging) and a no-tarnish lifetime finish.