How to Choose the Right Door Lock

How to Choose the Right Door Lock

One of the most essential components for home security is the entryway door lock. The right one will deter casual would-be intruders from going any further and even keep insistent criminals at bay. Most importantly, it will help you and your family to feel safe in your home.

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading or otherwise changing your door’s locks, there are several considerations to keep in mind, including:

  • Security rating
  • Type/style
  • How many locks you need
  • Strikeplate quality
  • Your budget

Security Rating

The quality of a door lock’s construction, impact resistance, and any anti-tampering features it may have can be discerned through its American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety rating. When it comes to residential locks, there are currently 3 grades:

Grade 1: Originally intended for commercial applications, grade 1 locks are now available for broader residential use. Locks in this grade offer the highest level of security (albeit, also usually at higher prices). To make this grade, deadbolts must withstand 250,000 lock/unlock cycles and 10 door strikes with a hammer.

Grade 2: While technically not as tough as grade 1, grade 2 locks still exceed most residential requirements. As such, they tend to be the most commonly used in such applications. Grade 2 deadbolts have been tested to withstand 150,000 cycles and 5 door strikes.

Grade 3: Otherwise known as economy or basic grade, grade 3 locks should only be used in situations when high security is not required. To make this grade, a deadbolt needs to withstand 100,000 cycles and 2 door strikes.

Door Lock Types

These days, door locks run the gamut from your traditional keyed locks to keypads and smart locks. Grade 1 and 2 locks also exist across the board. So really, the main consideration here is what would be easiest to use for you and your family.

Common lock types include:

  • Single cylinder. Keyed access on one side, with a thumb-knob on the other.
  • Double cylinder. Keyed access on both sides. Not common for residential use.
  • Vertical. Uses a vertical rod that extends through a set of steel rings. Can be used in conjunction with single or double cylinder locks.
  • Keypad. Has buttons to allow entry with a unique numeric code. Available with or without keyed options. Often battery-powered.
  • Smart. Powered wirelessly via a home’s wi-fi, and controlled by voice, mobile app and/or fingerprint.

Deadbolt, Handle Lock, or Both?

You know you need to have at least one lock on an entry door. But what kind is best for your situation? And do you need more than one kind of lock?

On any exterior door, a good-quality deadbolt should be your minimum. A handle lock may be useful as a basic deterrent, but it is typically not sufficient on its own for keeping really determined intruders out.

In many situations, a single deadbolt should be all you need. But today, it’s fairly standard to have a deadbolt and a handle lock together. Having both provides you with security versatility over the course of a day. And when both are activated, it gives would-be intruders that much more to have to work through. In this case, there are plentiful handleset options, with a deadbolt and handle that can be locked and unlocked using the same one key.

Ultimately, you can install as many locks as you want to make your home feel secure. In case you need extra back-up, you could consider adding a security chain, barrel bolt-style lock, etc.

Strike Plate Durability

Beyond the door lock itself, you need to check the strength and durability of its strike plate. After all, the strike is designed to hold a lock firmly in place in what may otherwise be a potentially fallible door frame.

A flimsy strike plate may fail if someone tries to pry or kick in your door. But a strong, reinforced one should offer much greater resistance. The grade of the lock you choose should correspond to the quality of its included strike.


At the end of the day, the amount of entryway security you can afford should be the entryway security you get.

While not a hard and fast rule, you will commonly find that higher quality locks tend to cost more. But there are plenty of perfectly good locks and lock systems available at middle-of-the-road prices. (These are usually your grade 2s.) Or, if you are able, you can go all out with high tech smart locks and security cams on every door.

If you want to check out some specific examples and recommendations for door locks mentioned in this article, go here. And for more information about other ways to keep your family and home safe, keep reading the PeopleFinders Blog.

Photo credit: ungvar –

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