Updated October 1, 2016 . AmFam Team
You’ve put in the work to make your dream home a reality, so when it comes to protecting it, it’s smart to know your options. Buying locks for your home can be a bit overwhelming — especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This guide helps take the guesswork out of upgrading your locks — so you have peace of mind knowing your family and everything you’ve worked for is protected.
When it comes to lock shopping, there are a few key definitions to know. First, let’s get to know the components of a lock.
Cylinder. The cylinder, or sometimes called lock body, is where you insert the key.
Bolt. This is the piece of metal that extends from the door into the frame and keeps the door closed. There are two types of bolts, spring bolts, which are typically used in automatic-locking doors, and deadbolts, which are considered more secure.
Strike. The strike plate is the metal piece that attaches to the frame of the door, and adds reinforcement to your lock.
Next, the types of locks:
Handle sets. This type is designed for exterior front entry doors and features a deadbolt and thumb turn.
Door knobs. This is the most common type of door lock and are affordable and easy to install.
Door levers. Like door knobs, door levers are easy to use, especially when your hands are full.
Deadbolts. When it comes to maximum security, deadbolts are your best bet. They use a dead-latch and are available in single and double cylinder varieties. Many exterior doors are pre-drilled for deadbolts, so installation is simple.
Now, let’s talk about industry rankings. Locks have a grading between 1 and 3, with 1 being the highest security and 3 being the lowest. Most lock packaging don’t include this ranking, so it’s important to check the company’s website.
Like most items, the better quality the lock, the more expensive it usually is. It’s also important to keep in mind that if you have it professionally installed, there will be extra cost. However, should a break-in happen, the extra cost of a strong, secure lock will most likely be less than the cost to replace the contents of your home.
A secure lock is only as good as the door you install it on. It’s important to make sure your door frame is stable, and it’s best to avoid a hollow-core doors. Once it comes time to install the strike box, choose long, strong screws to secure it in place. It’s a good rule of thumb to use screws that are at least 3” long on both your strike box and hinges.
There are a ton of ways to improve the security of your front entry, by a simple home inspection from your local locksmith, to smart home security features like the Ring Video Doorbell (Opens in a new tab). You’ve taken the right steps towards your family’s home security — now you can shop for the lock that’s built to protect your dream home.