When looking at purchasing locks for your home or business, the amount of options can certainly be overwhelming. There are many different types of locks and several different security factors to consider before purchasing. This page will explain the different types of locks and the security features that should be considered. Although there are many types of locks, the four most common are padlocks, deadbolts, knob locks and levers.
Padlocks are the only type of lock that is typically not permanently attached to anything else. Padlocks come in a range of sizes, are free standing and portable, and are one of the most easily recognizable types of lock. Padlocks come in two main varieties: combination and keyed. Combination locks have one or more number dials that open the lock when the correct combination is entered. They are often easy to decode or shim open. Keyed padlocks have several options to consider. There are rekeyable and non-rekeyable padlocks. If a padlock is non-rekeyable, then you cannot change the key that opens the lock (for example to make it use the same key as your house). Padlocks can be key-retaining or non-key-retaining. A key-retaining padlock does not allow the key to be removed while the padlock is open.
Deadbolts are generally installed on external doors and have a few more options to consider than padlocks. Deadbolts come in three primary varieties: single, double, and lockable thumbturn. Single cylinder deadbolts are found on most American homes. They use a key cylinder on the outside and a thumbturn (rosary) on the inside to open or close the lock. These deadbolts have one primary weakness. If access to the inside is possible (via a nearby window or even through the peephole using simple tools), the door can be opened using the thumbturn. A double cylinder deadbolt uses a key cylinder on the inside and the outside of the door to solve this issue. These have the clear disadvantage of always requiring a key to open the door from the inside if it is locked. This can pose a significant problem in a fire or other emergency situation. If used in a residential situation, it is strongly recommended that a key is left on the inside when people are present to ensure a safe exit in an emergency. The final type of deadbolt is a hybrid between a single and a double deadbolt, and is called a lockable thumbturn. It features a thumbturn on the inside that works like a normal single cylinder deadbolt, except the thumbturn can be locked using a key so it cannot lock or unlock the door. This means in a residential situation, the thumbturn can be left in an unlocked position while people are inside the house, and it will operate exactly like a standard single cylinder deadbolt.
Knob locks are frequently installed in residential situations on exterior doors in addition to deadbolts, and are sometimes used as the primary source of security for doors. First and foremost, it should be said that knob locks should virtually never be used for security on external doors. The problem lies in the fact that the lock cylinder is in the knob itself and not the door. In almost all setups, they can be broken off the door with a hammer or bypassed using pliers or a wrench behind the knob, completely bypassing the locking cylinder. If you currently have knob locks, consider replacing them with simple passage knobs as it will provide almost as much security as long as you are using deadbolts on the same doors.
Lever handle locks are frequently used for inner doors in commercial settings. They are easier to open than knob locks as they have a large push down style handle rather than a knob that one must grasp and turn. Frequently when handicap accessibility is important lever locks are used. Our lever handle locks are ADA accessible and can be changed between left and right handedness. When purchasing it is important to measure the proper backset. Levers can frequently be the target of torque attacks (excessive pressure applied to the handle to try and force the lock). Some levers are “clutch” levers meaning if they are forced they just turn rather than apply pressure to the lock.