Types of front door locks to secure your home

Front door locks can provide ultimate security or an open invitation for home invaders. Know which type will provide your home the best protection. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Monica S. of Chicago)

Front door locks can provide ultimate security or an open invitation for home invaders. Know which type will provide your home the best protection. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Monica S. of Chicago)

Keep your front door secure by knowing which lock to install. Here’s a description of the four most common front door locks:

Knob locks

One of the most common type of locks, knob locks are used on all kinds of doors; front door, bedroom door, garage doors or rear patio doors.

These locks have knobs on both sides. One side has a lock and the other side has a key hole to unlock the door.

When replacing a knob lock, be sure to determine which side of the door the lock is on – you’ll need a right-hand knob lock for a doorknob on the right side of the door, a left-hand knob lock for a doorknob on the left side of the door.

Because the locking mechanism is inside the knob (instead of the door) it can be easily broken with a hammer, wrench or rock and shouldn’t be the main security lock on a front door.

Lever-handled locks

These handled locks are commonly found on interior doors, feel nice in your hand and are more stylish than standard knob locks. They are also easier to access for the handicap population. Most lever-handled locks don’t require keys. Locking involves pushing or twisting a button on the inside face.

Because these locks operate like knob locks, they can be broken with force and aren’t recommended as the only line of defense on a front door.

Deadbolts

This lock is the most common front door lock – for good reason. Deadbolts are the most secure and are cost-effective. Deadbolts use a metal bolt that slides into the door jam. The bolt is controlled by a latch within the door and a keyhole on the outside.

There are four types of deadbolts:

  1. Single deadbolts, found on most front doors, have the keyhole on the outside of the door and an affixed thumbturn on the inside.
  2. Double deadbolt locks have a key cylinder on both sides of the door and no thumbturn. These locks require a key, which could be dangerous in emergencies. A key should be accessible for people who are inside.
  3. Jimmy proof deadbolts. These surface mount locks are popular with double doors because door modifications are minimal. The deadbolt interlocks with the jamb bracket, making it nearly impossible to pull apart or remove from the outside. The lock screws are on the inside of the door and only need a hole drilled straight through the door for the rim cylinder.
  4. Captive deadbolts are really double deadbolts that have a key that looks like a thumbturn hidden on the inside. It can be removed when the space is empty. These locks are expensive and require an external key to remove the thumbturn.

Keyless entry pads

Electronically controlled locks are essentially deadbolts that use a numbered keypad instead of a key. They require a code to slide the deadbolt open. More expensive than other locks, electronic locks feature one of two types of keyless entry pads: touch pad or card (or tag) system.

If you want to replace an existing lock with a keyless entry pad, hire an experienced installer. A pro can make sure the lock is seated properly, operates smoothly and doesn't compromise door security.

Check out the Angie's List Guide to Security Doors and Windows.


Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on January 24, 2013.


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deadbolt lock and strike plate
A deadbolt lock must fully extend into the strike plate to function properly. (Photo by Mike LaFollette)

Highly rated locksmiths say having a deadbolt installed in your front door is an inexpensive way to add an extra layer of protection for your home.

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