Many people daydream about living in a gorgeous house. They picture everything that will go into it, from the big to the small and the top to the bottom. They imagine what color the walls will be, what kind of fabric the curtains will be cut from, and what material the floors will be made out of. One thing that people often neglect, however, are the door locks.
Though door locks are usually not the most beautiful or visually striking aspect of a house, they are self-evidently one of the most important. A home needs a good door lock to protect everything inside, from the people to the valuables to the keepsakes. A good lock can end up protecting your very life.
It is ironic, then, those locks tend to be overlooked. Granted, they are small, but their effect, or lack thereof, can be keenly felt. You may not know what to look for in a door lock, and that’s okay! Not many people do. We’ll talk about the different kinds of locks, what to look for, and hopefully, you’ll end this article being able to pick out the lock that will keep you, your family, and your home safe!
Caring for Your Door Lock
Caring for a lock is very simple. In general, locks will not require much, if any, maintenance. Having said that, there are some easy, common sense things you can do to make sure your lock functions properly and stays that way for a long time. First, make sure the door is not getting slammed or opened in an awkward way. Slamming a door will end up loosening the lock over time, and a loose lock is less secure and easier to break. Second, you may notice that after a few years the lock may get squeaky or just won’t work as smoothly. If this happens, just a little WD40 will solve the problem.
Finally, it is normal for door locks to loosen up over time with use. This is most likely just a loosening of the screws that hold the lock in the door. If and when this happens, simply take a screwdriver and tighten the screws. If you do this and the lock is still loose, it’s time to turn to the professionals and call a locksmith.
How to Choose A Door Lock
Fortunately, door locks are not very expensive and will rarely run you over $100. In fact, it is rare to find a door lock that is more than $50. The primary point of consideration for door locks, therefore, is safety and aesthetics. You will want to make sure that any exterior door has as strong a lock as possible, and ideally more than one (doorknob lock, deadbolt, and chain). You will also want to make sure that whatever locks you decide on match the decor of your house.
Doorknob locks are the most common locks in the world. You’ll see them everywhere, in all kinds of buildings, on every kind of door. These are often the only locks on bedroom or bathroom doors, and they can be used on front doors in combination with a deadbolt or another kind of lock. These kinds of locks have the lock mechanism on the inside of the doorknob itself and the screws to keep the lock in the door are always placed on the inside so that the doorknob cannot be simply screwdriver out of the door. There will typically be a flip switch on the inside and a keyhole on the outside. A high-quality doorknob lock will be $30 to $50.
A handleset is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a lock that comes with a handle. These can get very fancy, and because they can get fancy, they are often used on front doors. If they are used on front doors they will almost always come with a deadbolt to provide extra security. Because these kinds of locks have multiple pieces (lots of metal) and are a bit more intricate, they can be as much as $100.
3. Hand Lever
Hand levers are practically the same as doorknob locks, but instead of a doorknob there is a lever. The difference will come down mostly to personal taste. Although, hand levers could work better for heavier doors, since the lever gives, as the name implies, more leverage upon opening the door. Hand levers are quite inexpensive and can be purchased for $20.
Deadbolts are the standard for locking doors. They come with just a circular knob for the keyhole and a plate for the bolt. You will want to have a deadbolt on every door in your home that faces the outside, in addition to having them on interior doors. Deadbolts can be found quite cheaply, for as little as $30, but make sure you find a good one!
5. Barrel Bolt
Barrel bolts are usually found on the inside of doors and are meant to provide that extra ounce of security and peace of mind. It’s just a simple barrel that you push across the door frame so that the door can only be opened from the inside. It’s just not worth skimping here when you can get a super high-quality one for only $10 more than the average price of $5. The barrel bolt is normally the last line of defense against burglars.
6. Chain Lock
Chain locks serve more or less the same purpose as a barrel bolt. They can only be secured from the inside, so any time they are in use, you will be home. The nice thing with a chain lock is that it allows you to open the door to talk to the person on the other side without totally unlocking it. Like barrel bolts, chain locks can be bought for as little as $12, and like chain locks, you should spring for a high quality one, as an extra ten or twenty dollars here will be very worth it.
7. Cam Lock
A cam lock is typically found on things like filing cabinets or safety deposit boxes. It is basically a smaller version of a deadbolt, but instead of the deadbolt sticking straight out, a smaller piece of metal swings into place. It is rare to find a cam lock on a door inside of a house, but these can be useful for things such as cabinets or makeshift safes, because of how small they are. They will be about $15.
8. Electronic Locks
Electronic locks are a fairly new innovation. They take the form of something like a doorknob or lever lock, but instead of a keyhole they are controlled with a keypad, or maybe are connected via Bluetooth to a phone. Many people like these locks because they can alert the user to times when the door opens, allowing them to monitor the comings and goings of their home. Prices for locks like this vary widely, and can be anywhere from $100 to $300.
We all know what a padlock is. We’ve been using them since middle school on our lockers. It is rare that a padlock will be used on a house door, but in some cases, it might make sense, especially if the building is going to be vacated for a long period of time. Padlocks vary greatly in price depending on quality, and in general, the more expensive, the more secure the lock will be. Low-end versions will come in at about $30.
As you can see, there are many possibilities for door locks. They are customizable based on price, style, and security level. Whether you are building a house from scratch or looking to replace an old, malfunctioning lock, you can pick and choose from the list above in order to cultivate the kind of appearance that you want for your home.
Before you make a decision, and before you make a purchase, be sure to consider all of your options. As we discussed, locks are something that you do not want to mess with, especially with exterior doors. This is an issue of safety, and a good lock can literally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back between life and death. When it comes to life and property, things should not be taken lightly, and therefore your lock purchase and installation should be made with great thought and care.
Last, but not least, many of the locks above are operated with keys. A good lock doesn’t mean anything if you’re not careful with the keys. Make sure that you take care of your keys. Make sure that you have copies of the keys in case the primary one gets lost, and make sure that they are in safe places or with people you know and trust. Always have a backup plan!