Door locks are essential for the safety and security of your home and family. Any door lock you choose, therefore, should provide reliable protection for the people who live in your home and your belongings.
Choosing the best door locks, however, is somewhat of a challenge. If you’re like most people, you’re not an expert in the area.
Don’t assume that just because you have a deadbolt, that the quality of your locks is high. While many bolts appear to meet security standards and come from reputable vendors, that doesn’t mean that their real-world performance will be what you need. Although the locks that many people buy shouldn’t be prone to break-ins, many are.
If you want to choose the best door locks, the first thing to do is research your options. Most hardware stores sell locks that meet the American National Standards Institute requirements for home security. Look for “ANSI” on the product label.
Some manufacturers build their locks to the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association standards too. Products vary in quality from grade one to grade three, with the highest being grade one. Door locks with this rating offer both function and high-quality materials that make unauthorized break-ins much more difficult.
When criminals try to break into your property through a locked door, they will often strike the lock mechanism through the door material, hoping to loosen, dislodge, or break it. A strike plate is a metal sheet that protects the lock mechanism, making it more difficult to compromise.
Some locks come with strike plates as standard: metal plates that sit around the handle, providing armoring. Other locks allow you to add strike plates afterward.
Locksmiths recommend that you always choose door locks with strike plates for exterior doors. If you decide to install one, then make sure that you use long screws to fit it in place. Your screws should penetrate at least three to five inches into the door material. Be sure that you choose the correct length screws according to the manufacturer. Going too long could damage the door material and weaken it. Choosing screws that are too short might mean that you do not secure the locking mechanism in place adequately.
Spring latch locks are one of the cheapest door locking mechanisms around because of their cost-effective construction and ease of installation. Unfortunately, they may not offer you or your family the level of home security that you need.
Spring latch locks work by locking the position of the doorknob of the door, preventing anyone from turning it to release the latch. Unfortunately, however, criminals can compromise these mechanisms by putting pressure on the latch and keeping the spring in place. They can also literally smash the lock off the door with a hammer or wrench and then manually release the bolt from the door frame that way.
If you do decide to use a spring latch mechanism as the only lock on your exterior doors, professionals recommend that you use a metal plate around the lock to reinforce the door material to make it harder to release the bolt.
Deadbolt locks are different from spring latches in the sense that they don’t rely on a spring to keep them in the locked position. Instead, the bolt sits “dead” in the door until you either move it with a knob or key.
Deadbolt locks usually come with a bolt, an out-of-the-door jamb, and a thumb-turn on the inside, allowing you to open the door without a need for a key.
Professional locksmiths prefer deadlock bolts because of the fact that the bolt itself sits in the door cavity. The horizontal throw of the bolt usually extends more than an inch into the jamb, making it very difficult to break open without a massive amount of force. Even the police can sometimes struggle to break-and-enter with professional battering ram equipment.
Still, you need to be careful when choosing a standard deadbolt lock. While the mechanism is robust, the material from which it is made might not be. Avoid deadlock bolts made using die-cast processes. Instead, only choose those made entirely of solid steel, brass, or bronze.
You can also purchasing a smart deadbolt lock. These locks can be controlled by a app on your sell phone and some offer a tamper resistant alarm. If the door is struck, an alarm or “chirping” noise will sound.
While standard deadbolt locks are reasonably effective, sophisticated intruders can still sometimes pry the door away from the jamb using a crowbar and gain entry that way.
Vertical and double cylinder deadbolt locks use a vertical throw that engages with a set of interlocking cast metal rings in the frame of the door. When an intruder attempts to pry the door open, they find that these rings prevent them from prying the lock away from the jamb, essentially making the door pry-proof.
These types of locks are probably the best option for most homeowners, but they are not necessarily the best in terms of security. When it comes to door locking mechanisms, you can always take it to the next level.
Some bolts don’t go into a jamb at the side of the door at all. Instead, they penetrate the door frame to the top, bottom, left, or right. What’s more, many of these jambs occupy levels other than those parallel to the locking mechanism. Internal cams in the door transmit force from the rotation of the key to bolts located near the floor or ceiling.
Many people also decide to install locks that are difficult to reach, usually at the top of the door. Others use special door materials that can resist high impacts or shearing forces.
While no door lock is entirely safe, many criminals are opportunists and will avoid your property altogether if they see that you have sophisticated defenses. If you choose a deadbolt system, remember always to include a strike plate as this offers the most protection against unwanted entry. For homeowners with bigger budgets, double cylinder deadbolts are probably the most practical option.
Other things to consider when securing your home are choosing a good quality door such as a solid core wooded door and the metal vs a wood door frame.
If you are considering a new secure locking system for your home, contact the experts at Access Locksmith.