When people are shopping for a door lock, there are so many options it can be very overwhelming to choose the one that’s right for you. Many people don’t even know what types of door locks are out there, so it’s essentially impossible to make an informed decision based on the facts. In this article, I’ll try to go over some of the basic types of locks and their uses, so that those of you who are shopping for a door lock will have a better understanding of what to look for. There are essentially 10 types of domestic door locks. These types are: Passage Lockset, Privacy Lockset, Dummy Knob, Entry Lockset, Deadbolt Lock, Surface-mounted Deadbolt, Mortise Lock, Night Latch, Handleset, and Keyless entry.
Listed out this way, the choices can seem even more overwhelming than ever. The first three styles, passage lockset, privacy lockset, and dummy knob, aren’t designed to provide any measure of security. These door locks are specifically designed for interior use, and are really for bathroom or bedroom doors that do not require any actual security, but where a measure of privacy is required.
The two types of deadbolts are probably the most typical types of exterior security locks. The reason they are called “deadbolts” is that they actually sink a metal “plug” into the door frame, rather than simply freezing the turning mechanism, as is the case with knob locks. Most deadbolt locks have a throw of about an inch, which is the currently accepted industry standard. The throw of a lock is how much the deadbolt penetrates into the frame. Obviously a longer throw is better, but anything one inch or greater is very acceptable. The only difference between the regular and the surface mounted deadbolt is that the surface mounted lock is actually attached externally to the door rather than being installed into the door. There is a metal flashing that attaches to the door frame that the throw sinks into.
The night latch is what most people think of as the “hotel-style” lock, which basically consists of a chain, which is attached to the door frame and that slides into a slot on the door itself. Night latches make great secondary locks, but it is not advisable to rely on this type of lock as your primary safety device, because the latch still allows the door to be opened a crack. Think of this type of lock as a “backup”.
The crucial thing that I want to point out is that it's very important to consider first and foremost the security level of the lock you're looking for. While aesthetics and other features certainly play a role, your main point of departure when making a selection should be how secure you need the lock to be, and how it will function in your home.
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