So Many Types of Locks! How to Find What’s Right for you?

If you’re shopping for locks, you will soon find out that there is basically an endless list of various kinds of locks and keys. When it’s time to track down the best locks for your specific needs, you want to be sure they will be the most effective. You’ll need to carry out an in-depth evaluation of each lock you’re looking at, and ask the following questions:
  • Where will you install the lock?
  • Who will use it?
  • Where you’re installing the lock, what are the surroundings like?
  • What level of security do you require?

Let’s consider some popular locks and their security features.

Deadboltsare the safest locks you can install at your home, which is what any professional locksmith will tell you. Accordingly, whenever you install deadbolts, you’ll be adding an extraordinary level of security. They’re called “dead” because there aren’t any springs to operate the bolt; a deadbolt is operated by hand – that is, with a thumbturn or key.

There are four standard deadbolts: single-cylinder, double-cylinder, jimmy-proof, and lockable thumbturn.

A single-cylinder deadbolt is the basic deadbolt we all think of, having the key cylinder on the outside. On the inside, you use a thumbturn to open and shut it. It’s normally used on a solid door, made of metal or wood. The one weakness to a single-cylinder deadbolt is, if there’s any potential access to the inside – through a window on the door or through the peephole (something a thief can easily do) – then the door can be opened with the thumbturn.
One solution for this disadvantage is a double-cylinder deadbolt, which has a key cylinder both inside and outside the door. If your door’s locked, the double-cylinder requires a key for opening it from the inside. This deadbolt lock is just right if your door has any glass, or if there’s a window next to the door, because it will prevent a robber from breaking the glass and reaching in to unlock the door. Its shortcoming is that it isn’t safe in case of fire. So if you use a double-cylinder deadbolt, always leave a key readily available. That way, if a fire occurs when people are home, everyone will be able to get out fast.
A jimmy-proof deadbolt is a surface-mount lock, most often used on double doors and in apartment buildings. Folks who like this deadbolt prefer it because it requires few door modifications. The way this deadbolt lock works is that it interlocks with the jamb bracket, which stops it from the possibility of being pulled apart or forced from the outside by a burglar. A surface-mount lock means that the lock screws into the door’s inside, rather than having the drill pattern of a conventional deadbolt.
The lockable thumbturn deadboltis like the single-cylinder and the double-cylinder deadbolt put together, providing superior security and flexibility. It has a thumbturn on the inside, which works the way an ordinary single-cylinder deadbolt does, but it can also be locked with a key, so it can’t lock or unlock the door. Thus the thumbturn can be left in an unlocked position while you’re at home, but it will function just like an ordinary single-cylinder deadbolt. When you leave, the thumbturn can be locked, so that even if an intruder manages to gain access to the door’s inside, the deadbolt itself can’t be unlocked.
Knob locks are the typical locks for your exterior doors, and your main source of security for your home. Sometimes, they are also installed in additional to deadbolts to provide more security. A knob lock alone isn’t completely secure, because the lock cylinder is inside the knob itself, instead of in the door. One downside is that a potential burglar could break off a knob lock from the door with a hammer. It can be forced open with pliers, or bypassing the lock cylinder with a wrench behind the knob.
Mortise-cylinder locks are threaded, screwing into mortise hardware mounted on the door’s inside. This lock is held in place by a set screw, and the lock mechanism is activated by the cam. Mortise cylinders come in several lengths, with a variety of choices for the cams, depending on the hardware you want.
Lever handle locks are seen frequently on interior doors at commercial facilities. If you need to provide accessibility for the disabled, a lever lock is your best bet, because they’re easier to open than knobs are, since the push-down handle doesn’t have to be grasped and turned, the way a knob does. Its one inconvenience is that you can sometimes catch your clothes on the lever.

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