Common Types of Door Locks

Common Types of Door Locks

Common Types of Door Locks

Learn about the different types of door locks for home and commercial use including knobsets, deadbolts, and more.

Locking Knobsets

A locking knobset is the most common locking system for a door. The lock set has a knob, or sometimes a fancy handle with a thumb release, with a thumb-turn lock on the interior side of the door.

The typical locking knobset by itself does not provide a significant level of protection against burglary. Because the knobset contains the actual lock cylinder the entire system can be thwarted by breaking off the knob. Whether it’s a few blows with a hammer, or using heavy duty pliers, any knobset can be destroyed without tremendous effort.

There are primary locking knobsets for exterior doors which are designed to mitigate common break-in attempts. There are also light-duty locking knobsets for interior use such as bathroom or bedroom doors. The home improvement website put together a list of recommended door locks for homes. They describe their list as “The Best Door Locks of 2019 to keep your home safe and secure.”1. Click the following link to see the 2019 List of Best Door Locks.

Interior Knobsets – Passage and Privacy Locks

A privacy knobset is a door knob with a light-duy lock. These are the door knobs you use for bathrooms, bedrooms, etc. A passage knobset is a door knob without a lock. These are the door knobs you use for closet doors, pantry doors, etc.

Lever Door Handles

Lever handled door locks are most often used for interior doors. These door locks are made with and without locks. These locksets are required where ADA handicapped accessibility is required. Lever door handles are especially convenient for children and elderly who may have difficulty grasping a door knob.

Deadbolt Locks

A deadbolt lock, aka dead bolt lock, is a common door lock used in conjunction with a locking knobset. Wikipedia describes a deadbolt in this manner, “A dead bolt, deadbolt or dead lock is a locking mechanism distinct from a spring bolt lock because a deadbolt cannot be moved to the open position except by rotating the key. The more common spring bolt lock uses a spring to hold the bolt in place, allowing retraction by applying force to the bolt itself. A deadbolt can therefore make a door more resistant to entry without the correct key. A deadbolt is often used to complement a spring-bolt lock on an entry door to a building.”2

A common residential deadbolt lock can be recognized by its typical round shape with a keyhole in the center. A deadbolt can secure a door whether or not the knobset is locked. Deadbolts are a very good security enhancement because they are difficult to pry open. Deadbolts are typically installed with screws that are higher strength, and that go into primary door framing. The two common types of deadbolt locks are single-cylinder deadbolts and double-cylinder deadbolts.

Why add deadbolt locks? Adding a deadbolt to your locking knobset substantially increases your level of security. Per Angie’s List, “There are many things you can do to boost home security, such as adding an alarm system or getting a guard dog, but unless you have working deadbolt locks and actually use them, your home isn’t secure, locksmiths say”.3

Generally speaking, the effectiveness of a deadbolt lock is dependent on the quality of the installation. Hiring a competent locksmith will insure a tight and proper fit. Additionally, a trained locksmith will install the lock with upgraded security hardware (screws nd strike plate).

Single Cylinder Deadbolts

A single cylinder deadbolt is the most common residential deadbolt lock. A single-cylinder deadbolt lock has a key hole on the exterior side and a simple thumbturn on the interior side.

A single-cylinder deadbolt is the most convenient type of deadbolt because an occupant can lock or unlock from inside without a key. A single-cylinder deadbolt can be ineffective if it is installed in a door with windows or side-lite glass. A potential intruder needs only to break the glass and reach inside to unlock the door.

Double Cylinder Deadbolts

A double-cylinder deadbolt has a key hole on both sides of the lock. This design provides better security than the single-cylinder deadbolt; however, it has two notable drawbacks.

Inconvenience. A double-cylinder deadboly requires a key to lock or unlock from either side of the door. This means you need to find the key to use the lock.

Safety. It is very important to note that this can be a deadly issue in the event of a fire. Your escape will be impossible because you don’t have a key. The common solution is to leave a key in the lock on the inside; however, without active management you’ve then effectively made it a single-cylinder deadbolt.

Jimmy-Proof Lock

A jimmy-proof lock, sometimes called a jimmy-proof-deadbolt or vertical deadbolt, is a surface mounted lock that does not have a knob or lever to open a door. A jimmy-proof lock has a main piece with an oval shaped end that mounts on the door. It has another piece that mounts to your door frame. When the key cylinder in the main piec is turned, a bolt drops down to lock the two pieces together. Jimmy-proof locks have a single-cylinder lock which can be re-keyed by a residential locksmith. Jimmy-proof locksmiths are often used for added break-in prevention where emhanced security is desired.

In Conclusion

Whether it is for new construction or to upgrade your door locks, you have numerous options in aesthetics, functionality, and strength. The offerings and quality between lock brands can be significant. If you need help finding the best door locks you should contact a locksmith before making a purchase. Aside from simply choosing a lock, a locksmith can advise you on the cost and any extra work required to install your new locks.

If you need assistance with door locks for your home, office or commercial business you should hire a local licensed locksmith.


  • 1 Kimberley McGee, “The 9 Best Door Locks of 2019”, August 5, 2019, Available from
  • 2 Wikipedia, “Dead Bolt”, August 16, 2019, Available from Wikipedia
  • 3 Mike LaFollette, “Locksmiths Say Deadbolt Key to Home Security”, April 16, 2015, Available from Angie’s List

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