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Door Locks

When shopping for new door locks, the three factors to consider are security, style, and appearance. We'll discuss the first two and only say that appearance is a matter of taste but that the look should match the appearance (both in material, such as brass or aluminum, and design) of the other hardware and styles in the room.


The purpose of a lock is to keep others out. The strength of the door lock you need depends on the level of security you seek. For many people, a simple lock is sufficient because they just want to prevent a crime of opportunity. For others, they are seeking a whole security system that makes their home, if not impenetrable, at least very hard and time consuming to break into. As you would expect, it costs considerably more to provide higher levels of security through devices that resist picking and forcing, so choose the level with which you are comfortable.


Locks come in single or double cylinder styles. Double cylinder models require a key to open the lock from either side; the single models have a knob on the inside. For the home, the single cylinder style is highly preferable because it prevents trapping someone without the key at hand inside in case of a fire

Doors use either a latch bolt or a deadbolt. Latch bolt locks are designed so that the lock can be engaged before the door is pulled shut. The angled surface of the spring-loaded latch bolt causes the latch bolt to retract when it contacts the "strike plate" on the door frame. However, this style is susceptible to jimmying since the latch is not immovable even though the lock is engaged.

Deadbeats must be manually thrown (either by the inside knob or by a key). Deadbolts provide a higher level of security and reduced likelihood of lock outs (since from the outside you must use your key to lock the door).

Most doors are equipped with a latch bolt because it is easy to latch the door closed by pulling it. If the door is lockable, a lock is generally integrated into the knob and controls the ability of the

knob to turn and disengage the latch. A second latch (usually a deadbolt) is added to the door for extra security. The second latch can be integrated in a mortise style lock (with the latch and deadbolt part of a single, internal unit) or a separate lock attached to the inside surface of the door and the door frame (called a "rim" or "drop" lock).

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