types of locks

Understanding Different Types of Locks: A Guide for Homeowners

As a homeowner, improving home security should be one of your top priorities. A crucial aspect of keeping your home secure is choosing the right type of lock for each entry point. In this guide, we’ll discuss the different types of locks available, their mechanisms, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Types of Locks

Cylinder locks are one of the most common types of locks, found on both residential and commercial doors. They work by using a key to turn a cylinder inside the lock mechanism, which then releases the bolt or latch. Combination locks are another popular type, often seen on safes and lockers. These locks require a specific sequence of numbers or letters to be entered in order to unlock them.

Cam locks are commonly used for cabinets and drawers, as they’re designed to hold items securely in place. Double-cylinder deadbolt locks provide extra security for exterior doors by requiring a key from both sides to unlock the door. Finally, electric combination locks have become more popular in recent years due to their convenience and ability to integrate with smart home technology systems.


Single Cylinder Deadbolt

A double cylinder deadbolt is more secure than a single cylinder and is commonly used on doors with glass panels or windows.

image of single cylinder deadbolt

A single-cylinder deadbolt lock is a standard type of deadbolt that can be locked and unlocked using a key from the outside, while the inside can simply be turned to lock or unlock. It is easy to use and provides an additional layer of security for your home. These locks are often used in combination with other types of locks such as knob or lever handle locks.

Double Cylinder Deadbolt

A double-cylinder deadbolt requires a key on both sides, making it more secure than the single-cylinder option since it cannot be opened without a key. This type of lock is typically used on doors with glass panels or windows to prevent someone from breaking the glass and reaching in to turn the knob or lever from inside the house. However, some local fire codes prohibit their use in residential settings due to safety concerns.

image of double cylinder deadbolt

Keyless Deadbolt

For those who prefer not having keys around, there are also electronic options available such as electric keypads or combination locks which allow access by inputting certain numbers into them rather than needing keys. Keyless deadbolts come equipped with many different features including remote entry capabilities, multiple user codes that can be set up for specific people like family members or cleaning staff, etc., auto-locking after a certain amount of time has elapsed – so you don’t have to worry about locking up when you leave your home!


Combination Padlock:

  • Uses a combination of numbers to open and close the lock
  • Ideal for securing lockers, storage units, or gates

Keyed Padlock:

  • Requires a key to unlock and lock
  • Suitable for securing sheds, outdoor equipment, or bicycles

High-Security Padlock:

  • Provides extra protection against picking and drilling
  • Perfect for safeguarding expensive machinery or vehicles

When it comes to padlocks, there are several types available in the market. Combination locks use a set of numbers in order to open or close while keyed padlocks require a specific key. High-security padlocks offer advanced security features such as pick resistance and anti-drill mechanisms. Understanding these different types of locks can help homeowners make informed decisions on which type is best suited for their needs. Other common types include cam locks, cylinder locks, double-cylinder deadbolt locks, and electric locks.

Knob Locks

Passage knob locks are designed for interior doors that do not require any locking mechanism. They feature a latch bolt and a single cylinder that can be locked from the inside, but they do not have an external keyway. Privacy knob locks are ideal for bathrooms or bedrooms where privacy is needed. These locks come with a turn button on the inside of the lockset, which allows you to lock it from within. It also features an emergency release hole in case of emergencies.

image of knob lock

Exit or storeroom functionality knob locks come equipped with both latch and deadbolt functions allowing them to be used as exit-only devices when needed, without requiring any keys to unlock them from either side of the door. Cylinder locks can replace standard knobs and provide more security as they offer a keyed entry feature along with other mechanisms like double cylinder configurations that use key access on both sides of a door instead of just one electrically powered cam-locks making it easy for users who prefer electronic solutions.”

Lever Handle Locks

Lever handle locks are a popular choice for residential and commercial properties. A classroom lever handle lock is commonly used in educational settings as it allows for quick locking from the outside while maintaining free access from the inside. Storeroom lever handle locks, on the other hand, offer restricted access from both sides to secure storage rooms or offices.

image of lever handle lock

Bathroom/Privacy lever handle locks provide privacy and security in homes with multiple residents by allowing easy locking of bathroom doors. They often come equipped with cylinder locks or combination locks that require specific codes to unlock. To ensure maximum safety, homeowners can also opt for electric or double-cylinder lever handles that add an extra layer of protection against forced entry attempts.

Cam Locks

Cam locks are a type of cylinder lock that offer reliable security solutions for various applications. They come in different forms, with each offering unique features and benefits depending on your needs.

  • Straight Cam-lock:
  • This is the simplest form of cam lock, consisting of a straight bar that rotates in order to secure or release the locking mechanism.
  • Dimple Cam-Lock:
  • These locks have dimples drilled into their keyways to provide an extra level of security against picking and manipulation attempts.
  • Tubular Cam-Lock:
  • These locks use a tubular key design instead of a traditional flat key, making them more difficult to pick.

If you’re looking for combination locks or electric options, cam locks may not be the best fit as they typically require physical keys. However, double-cylinder versions are available if extra security is needed from both sides of the door. When choosing between different types of cam locks it’s important to consider factors such as durability, ease of use, and compatibility with existing hardware.

Mortise Locks

Mortise Locks

  • A mortise lock is a type of lock that requires a pocket or “mortise” to be cut into the door for installation.
  • Mortise locks provide a high level of security and are commonly used in commercial buildings, apartments, and homes with intricate woodwork.
  • The lock operates using a key that turns the cylinder within the mortise case to engage or disengage the bolt from its locking position.

When choosing between different types of locks, consider installing mortise locks for added security measures. These types of locks offer superior protection against break-ins due to their solid construction and complex mechanism. Additionally, homeowners can choose between various finishes such as polished brass or satin nickel to match their home décor. However, it’s important to note that installation can be more difficult than other types of locks and may require professional assistance.

Ultimately, if you prioritize safety over convenience when it comes to securing your home or business premises then investing in mortise locks is highly recommended.

image of mortise lock

Lock Mechanisms

Pin tumbler locks are one of the most common types of lock mechanisms and work by using a set of pins to prevent the cylinder from turning without the correct key. Wafer tumbler locks, on the other hand, use thin metal wafers that obstruct the movement of a central cylinder until a matching key is inserted. Disc tumbler locks are similar to wafer tumblers but use rotating discs instead. It’s important to understand these different types of locks in order to choose which one is right for your home security needs.

Pin Tumbler Locks

Pin tumbler locks are one of the most common types of locks used in residential and commercial settings. They work by using a series of pins to prevent the lock from opening without the correct key. The pins are arranged in pairs, with one pin sitting above another. When the correct key is inserted into the lock, it lifts each pin pair to just the right height so that they line up with a dividing line inside the lock, allowing it to turn and open.

The pins used in pin tumbler locks can vary depending on their intended use or the level of security needed. Standard pins are commonly found in low-security applications, while spool or mushroom-shaped security pins provide greater protection against picking attempts but may be more difficult for non-professionals to install correctly. While pin tumbler locks have been widely adopted due to their simplicity and effectiveness in providing basic security measures, they do have some disadvantages such as susceptibility to being picked by experienced burglars who possess specialized tools and knowledge specific to this type of locking mechanism.

Wafer Tumbler Locks

Wafer tumbler locks are a type of lock that uses flat wafers instead of pins to prevent the locking mechanism from turning. Each wafer is arranged in a stack and has a slot cut out, which allows it to rotate around the central axis. When the correct key is inserted into the lock, it aligns all of the slots in each wafer, allowing them to move freely and enabling the locking mechanism to turn. There are various types of wafers used in these locks such as single-sided or double-sided.

One advantage of using wafer tumbler locks is their low cost compared to other types of locks on the market. They also tend to be easier to operate as they have fewer moving parts than traditional pin tumblers. However, one disadvantage is that they can be easily picked by experienced burglars who understand how they work. Additionally, wafer tumbler locks may not offer much resistance against drilling attacks due to their relatively simple design when compared with more advanced cylinder-based lock systems like disc-tumblers or combination locks.

Disc Tumbler Locks

Disc tumbler locks operate by using rotating discs that have notches cut into them. The key will align the notches on each disc, allowing the lock to turn and open. The number of discs used in a lock usually ranges from two to ten.

There are different types of discs used in disc tumbler locks, including serrated or spooled disks. Serrated disks offer better security as they make it harder for someone to pick the lock, while spooled disks require more skill and patience to unlock due to their unique shape.

The main advantage of disc tumbler locks is their increased resistance against picking compared to other types of pin-based locks. However, they can be vulnerable if someone has access to a duplicate key or picks up discarded keys because there are fewer combinations available with only two pins per disk.

Combination Locks

Combination locks rely on a unique mechanism to secure valuables and property. They use numbered wheels or dials that must be set to the correct sequence of numbers in order for the lock to open. Combination locks come in various types based on the number of wheels or dials they contain.

These locks are best utilized when additional security is needed, such as in gym lockers, briefcases, luggage bags, and safes. The absence of keys makes them difficult to pick and eliminates worries about lost keys falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, combination locks do not require any external power source which makes them reliable during emergencies like power outages.

Electronic Locks

Electronic door locks are becoming more popular in residential and commercial properties due to their convenience and enhanced security features. The working principle behind electronic door lock systems involves using an electric current or signal to control the locking mechanism. These systems offer different methods used for authentication, including key cards, biometric scans, and keypad codes.


  • Electronic locks provide a higher level of security than traditional mechanical locking systems.
  • They eliminate the need for physical keys that can be lost or duplicated.
  • Many electronic locks allow remote access control through smartphones or other devices.


  • Electronic locks rely on battery power which may fail at some point.
  • The initial cost of installation may be higher compared to traditional mechanical locking systems.
  • Some people may find them difficult to use if they are not familiar with the technology.

Choosing the Right Lock

When choosing the right lock for your home, it’s important to first consider your needs. Do you need a lock with high-security features or one that is easy to use? Once you have identified your needs, evaluate your home and identify potential areas of vulnerability where locks can be installed.

Understanding lock ratings is also crucial in selecting the appropriate type of locks for various doors around the house. Look for locks that meet industry standards and are certified by reputable organizations such as ANSI/BHMA. Finally, it’s always advisable to contact a professional locksmith who can provide expert advice on which types of locks are best suited for specific areas in your home.

Consider Your Needs

When choosing a lock for your home, it’s important to consider your needs. Assess the level of security required: is this an entryway that requires high-level protection? Do you have valuable items in the house that need extra safety measures? Determine the frequency of use for the lock – will this be used daily or only occasionally? These factors can help determine what type of lock will best fit your needs.

In addition to security and usage frequency, also consider ease of use and accessibility. You want a lock that provides peace of mind but doesn’t become a hassle to use every day. Consider who will be using the locks on a regular basis; if there are children or elderly family members involved, choose something easy-to-use with accessible keyholes. Keeping these factors in mind when selecting new locks can save time and effort down the line while ensuring optimal home security.

Evaluate Your Home

Inspect all entry points to your home thoroughly to identify any potential vulnerabilities. This includes doors, windows, and even the garage. Take note of any areas where a thief could gain access by breaking or forcing open a lock.

Identify potential weak spots in your current locking system and consider upgrading them with more secure options such as deadbolts or smart locks. Additionally, take into account any unique circumstances or features that may affect lock selection such as pets, children, or elderly residents who may need easy operation of the locks.

By carefully evaluating your home’s security needs and taking stock of its strengths and weaknesses, you can make informed decisions about which types of locks will best protect you against intruders while providing convenient access for authorized individuals.

Understand Lock Ratings

Familiarize yourself with ANSI/BHMA grading standards for locks to ensure you are choosing a high-quality lock for your home. Look for Grade 1 locks, which are the most durable and secure. Additionally, learn about different types of materials used in locks and their durability. For example, brass is a common material but may not be as strong as steel or other alloys.

Research common techniques used by burglars to defeat different types of locks so you can choose a lock that is resistant to these methods. For instance, some burglars use bump keys or picklocks to gain entry into homes with traditional cylinder locks. Consider upgrading to smart locks or deadbolts that require unique codes or fingerprints instead of physical keys that can be easily duplicated.

By understanding lock ratings and researching the best options for your needs, you can increase the security of your home and protect yourself and your family from potential break-ins.

Contact a Professional

Consult with a licensed locksmith for expert advice on lock selection. With their experience and knowledge, they can recommend the best type of lock to meet your specific needs. Solicit bids from multiple vendors to compare pricing and services offered, ensuring that you are getting the best value for your money. Inquire about installation, maintenance, and warranty options before making a purchase decision to make sure you have all the necessary information to make an informed choice when it comes to securing your home. By taking these steps, you can rest assured that you have chosen the right lock for your home’s security needs.

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