Door Locks Explained: Unlocking the Types

DIY, Tips

door locksChoosing a new door lock can seem a confusing business as there are so many available on the market. Fortunately, it is not often that you have to make a decision, as most homes come complete with the full quota of locks. However, there may be circumstances when new locks have to be purchased and fitted: when renovating a home, having a home extension built and upgrading security, for instance. The locks described below are the major types used, amongst the dozens on offer.

What Door Lock Should I Get?

Privacy Locksets

These are not designed for external use. They are used mainly on places where there is a need for privacy, such as a bathroom, toilet, bedroom or office. If you have a room like this and think that a simple lock would be a useful addition, they are relatively easy to install.

These locks only work on one side – the handle on the outside doesn’t have a lock fitted and just has a small hole in its centre where the lock can be undone in an emergency with a small length of wire.

Spring Operated Locks

These are another type of simple lock which is best used on the inside of a house, like on a bedroom door. They are quite common in some hotels, too. One of the advantages of these locks is their ease of use. The lock mechanism is located inside the handle or doorknob. On the outside, there is a space for a key, while on the inside there is a spring operated button. All you have to do is to press the button on the inside to lock the door, while unlocking it is even easier – all it needs is to turn the door handle.

While these locks are simple to operate, their main disadvantage is that it is also easy to pick them. This puts them into a category of low level security.

upvc door locks are described as multi point locks. They have multiple locking points along the door.

Dead Bolts

Dead bolts are a good choice for installing on any door that leads to the outside or where that bit of extra security is needed. They basically work on the principle of a heavily built piece of metal or bar that slides into a recess in the doorframe. Because of the bar’s position and the type of lock mechanism, they are much more difficult to pick or to break into than many other types of locks. There are several types of dead bolts, which provide for a range of budgets and levels of security needed.

The cheaper types of dead bolts have a key hole on the outside and a latch on the inside. More expensive locks have a key hole fitting on both sides of the door, so you can actually use the key on the inside as well as the outside. The difference lies in the number of cylinders in the internal fitting. Latch operated locks have a single cylinder, while key operated locks have two cylinders.

The two main designs of dead bolts are mortise locks and tubular / cylindrical locks.

Mortise locks are used on wooden doors in particular as they have a large plate on each side of the door which provides greater strength for the lock mechanism. They are very commonly used for external doors.

Tubular or cylindrical locks have a small cylinder with the key and lock mechanism incorporated, fitted into the door. They take up much less space than the mortise lock and are easier and cheaper to install.

Surface Mounted Locks

These are a good alternative to dead bolts, especially if it is hard to make holes in the door or door frame. They use an external housing on the inside of the door. A key operates the lock on the inside which pushes a bar into or out of an enclosure mounted on the door frame. They are also useful as a second, back up lock that already has another type of lock fitted.

Garima Mehta is a professional blogger based in Worthing, UK and loves to write on various topics.