All Locks Aren't Created Equal: Common Door Lock Types, Explained

May 31, 2017

Securing your home starts with choosing the right lock for your door. But with all of the choices available, making the best decision can be difficult. For instance, the lock you have on your front door probably shouldn’t be the same one you affix to your bedroom door (unless you’re dealing with a really nosy roommate).

To help you choose the best lock for your needs, here’s a quick guide to the types that I install on a regular basis:

1. Knob Locks

This in-handle lock, typically used on bedroom and bathroom doors, is the most common type of lock. Although these can also be found on exterior doors, they don’t provide the best level of security: because the lock is contained entirely within the handle, the lock itself can be removed from the door with a hammer or a pair of pliers. So, if you do use a knob lock on an exterior door, be sure that it’s accompanied by some sort of deadbolt.

2. Deadbolts

Deadbolts offer the best security for your money. The deadbolt mechanism is simple: a metal bolt slides into the door jamb to secure it. Despite their straightforward design, there are more than a few types of deadbolts that can be installed on your exterior door.

Single deadbolts are the most common type, featuring an outer keyhole and an affixed thumb turn (a switch that locks or unlocks the deadbolt from the inside). A double deadbolt requires a key to be unlocked from both the inside and the outside, which can be dangerous in emergencies — if you have a double deadbolt, make sure that there’s a key that can be accessed from the interior of the building. Finally, jimmy-proof deadbolts are surface-mounted bolts that attach to the door jamb, ensuring that they cannot be removed from the outside. These are common in apartment buildings.

3. Lever Handle Locks

This type of lock is most commonly found on interior doors of commercial properties, but you’ll also occasionally see them inside a residential building. Because they are slightly easier to open than knob locks, these locks are preferable when handicapped accessibility is a consideration.

Many lever handle locks don’t require a key, and instead are locked with a button or switch on the inside of the door. Like knob locks, lever handle locks can be bypassed if enough force is applied, so you shouldn’t use them as the primary defense for your front door.

4. Keyless Entry Locks

Most keyless locks consist of an electronically controlled deadbolt. These security devices are a bit more costly than their traditional counterparts, and they tend to work by way of a touchpad, card system, or even an app on your phone. If the lock has a touchpad or keypad, you’ll be able to program a numerical code for entry, while card systems will simply require a card swipe or tap to open.

Whichever type of lock you ultimately choose, give yourself the security and peace of mind that you need: contact a professional for installation to make sure it’s done right.

— The Lockbusters Team

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