There are many cases where you’d want to know the different door latch types, which ones are the most secure, and how they all operate. If you’re moving into a brand new house, you want to make a mental note of which door latch types they have on the front and back door of the property to ensure that you’re secure. If you’re having a new exterior door fitted, knowing the different door latch types is one way to make sure you’re getting the best value possible without sacrificing security.
Along with using most door latch types of exterior doors, you can also put them to use on interior doors. One example is bathroom doors to help ensure that you have privacy or on office doors to prevent anyone from seeing your documents. We’re going to go over the most popular door latch types below to give you a good idea on which one will work best for your needs, and this will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re secure and safe.
1. Deadbolt Locks
Your deadbolt lock is the single most popular exterior door latch type available, and you’ll find them all over on residential property doors. They have such a high popularity rating that commercial property owners typically have them installed to secure their buildings or businesses. Most people pick out a deadbolt-style with a single cylinder, and you could technically list it under a subset of deadbolt locks.
There are also many different types of deadbolt door latch types that you can use to secure your house. It’s most often found on exterior doors, but you can also easily leave it to secure interior doors, but there are better choices when it comes to door latch types for interior doors.
This lock got the name because it doesn’t come with a spring-loaded mechanism inside to help move the bolt like most other locks have, so it’s a dead lock. You can trace the history of this lock back to the early 1880s, and this is the period where banks started using locks that needed keys to help protect their safes.
In this time, bank robbers saw safes as easy money, so the banks started using the deadbolts that were harder to smash or break to get to the money inside. You could also hear them referred to as jimmy proof locks, and a New York City police officer named Samuel Segal first created them in 1916.
Currently, he holds just over 25 patents, and this includes patents on different door latch types. A jimmy proof deadbolt lock is even more secure, and you commonly find them used on apartments or bigger buildings for the added layer of security they add.
Locked by Todd Kulesza / CC BY-SA 2.0
2. Knob Locks
If you’ve ever locked an exterior door, chances are, you’ve used a knob door latch type without even thinking about it. It’s another common latch type that almost everyone uses to lock their doors at their businesses or residences. A knob lock comes outfitted with a locking cylinder inside the knob instead of being inside of the door, and this makes this slightly different than a lot of locks on the list.
You’ll find knob locks on both interior and exterior doors, but they’re better to use on your interior doors as they don’t give you as much security as other door latch types do. Having this lock on the exterior door makes it easy to break in, and this is why they’re better for the bathroom or office where they work wonderfully to keep people out.
However, a knob lock can come with a keyed entry lock system on it that is made out of stainless steel or something stronger to add another layer of security. You can install this relatively quickly and easily, and all you’ll need in the way of equipment to install this lock is a Phillips screwdriver. As a bonus, many people have claimed that this type of knob lock is great for exterior doors where you need keyed entry. It’s nice for a mobile home, apartment, garage, house, or a business.
This door latency type has been in use since the 1800s with the first patent being in 1878 to Osborn Dorsey. He was an inventor that came up with the idea of a doorknob that had an internal door-latching mechanism. Jeremiah Chubb, Robert Barron, and Joseph Bramah worked as locksmiths in Britain in 1818 and came up with the design for the tumbler-style lock that today’s locks are based on.
Today, some of the knob locks come with Smartkey security that you can reprogram if you need. They also feature Microban protection that keeps the doorknob area around 99% cleaner than regular knobs. You can also buy this lock as part of a package that includes a deadbolt to give your exterior doors more security.
Door Knob by Luca Sartoni / CC BY-SA 2.0
3. Electronic Locks and Smart Locks
You’ll typically find electronic locks on residential properties, on codos, or in apartments. Electronic locks are different from smart door latch types, even if people tend to use the terms interchangeably. Smart locks are electronic, but not every electronic-style lock is a smart lock.
Even though they’re both very similar, electronic-style locks don’t have the capability or easy access that you get when you have a smart lock installed. However, both types of locks have issues if the electricity goes out due to a malfunction, short, storm, or another issue. Any business or home owner should be well aware of this issue and pick out a smart lock or an electronic lock that you can back up and unlock with a key if something happens to the power and you need to get in or out of the door.
A lot of the people that choose to use this style of lock need to have more precise control over their business or home’s security. The smart lock requires that you have an authorized device to allow you to lock or unlock it, and an electronic lock typically has a keypad that you have to punch a code in on.
You control your smart lock using wireless communication through an authorized device. With an electronic option, you have to manually input a code into the keypad to unlock or lock your door to gain entry or leave the premises.
Both lock styles work inside the door like other locks will, including deadbolts, euro cylinder, and mortise locksets. However, due to the unique features on both of these locks, they both go into a category of their own.
Nuki Smart Lock by Nuki Smart Lock / CC BY 2.0
4. Cylindrical Lever Locks
This door latch type is very similar to a deadbolt in how they operate, and you can find them used on both business and residential homes to help secure the property when you’re not there. Larger doors seem to have more space to install this style of lock, and this is why they’re a popular pick for securing the exterior doors on large buildings, factories, and businesses. This type of lock is very easy to operate, and they’re easier than deadbolts because the lock itself is more flexible when you try to move out or into a doorway jam.
However, it’s not as secure as a deadbolt, so it’s less common on residential exterior doors. You can manipulate the lever much easier, and this increases the chances of someone gaining entry into your home when they have no business doing so. They general come in two styles, including:
- Single Cylindrical Lock – This door latch type comes with space for a single key on one side only. The other side of this lock has a twist knob that will lock your door from the other side. The key side is located on your door’s external side, and the internal part comes with the knob so you can lock your door from inside without needing a key. This lock style can also be a deadbolt lock.
- Double Cylindrical Lock – A double cylindrical lock doesn’t come with a twist knob that needs a key on either side of your door. Instead, these locks are very good for places where you don’t want to give anyone the ability to lock the door from inside without using a key.
Gateman Smart Lever Lock by Aaron Yoo / CC BY-ND 2.0
5. Euro Cylinder Locks
As the name suggests, this door latch type is much more popular in Europe than it is in the United States. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find them used in the U.S. You’ll have a better time finding them throughout the United States if you look for locks on interior double doors or patio doors than exterior doors. This isn’t the most secure lock style you can get to protect your business or home.
The lock has a body that is very easy to damage, and it can break down after you use it for several years. You’ve probably ran into someone who had a patio door that is hard to open or very difficult to unlock or lock, and this lock breaking down is one of the main reasons for these issues. The lock portion could even snap, and this leaves your home open and unprotected.
However, even though this door latch type isn’t the best choice when it comes to your home security, a lot of people still prefer to have them because they’re easy to use and install. This is a self-contained lock style that makes the whole installation process much easier, but you want to avoid having them on exterior doors if you’re trying to protect your family and home.
New Corbin Russwin mortise cylinder lock by Badley Noe / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
6. Retinal Scan and Fingerprint Locks
Because this style requires no keys, they’re very convenient to use. A fingerprint lock also gives you a more technologically-advanced security type because only people who have had their fingerprints programmed in can cause the lock to open. To open one of these locks, you have to put your forefinger flat on the sensor and have it recognize your unique fingerprint pattern.
One of the most advanced types of exterior door locks is the retinal scan door latch types. They’re very popular for use to help secure buildings that have medical, manufacturing, and governmental secrets. If you choose this lock, you’ll need any user to input a biometric scan of their retina to lock the system down before they gain entry to the building or room. Real-time scanners have to match what the system has on file for them to work correctly.
On Body phone and smartlock system by UW News / CC BY 2.0
7. Keypad Locks
A keypad door latch type has an electronic keypad where you have to manually input a specific sequence of letters, numbers or symbols to tell your lock to open the door. This is a very convenient lock to use when you have several people that consistently enter a building or space throughout the day. You have zero keys to worry about with them, and this takes away the risks and costs associated with losing keys and having to replace them frequently.
ParkTennis_270 by Codelocks Ltd / CC BY-ND 2.0
8. Mortise Locks
This door latch type is very similar to cylindrical lever locks, and they’re very popular for use on exterior doors of commercial properties and businesses because of their design. You need to allow more room for them to operate correctly, but a lot of people still use them on residential properties. A lot of older homes already came with this door latch type in place when it transferred owners, and many people simply choose to keep this lock style instead of swapping them out for a different lock type.
People have used this door latch type since the 18th century to help secure exterior doors on their properties throughout the United States. The earlier models of these locks had a pull that let you unlock the door. Eventually, the pulls gave way to doorknobs.
There are very intricate parts of this door latch type that get installed inside your door, and they include the cylinder and lock with a cam that lets the door be unlocked or locked. It’s a very strong option, and this is why many commercial property owners prefer it over other lock styles. They’re just as durable and strong as deadbolts, and a lot of people think that they’re way more reliable. This makes them a great choice to secure your home, office, shed, workshop, and business.
Mortise Lock Sets by House of Antique Hardware / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
9. Magnetic Locks
A magnetic door latch type doesn’t feature any interlocking parts, and they don’t need combinations or keys to get opened and locked. Instead, they work via magnetism, and you power them with a 12 to 24-volt DC current. This is widely considered to be a fail-safe lock type because you need a live current to keep them locked. When you install this type of lock on the main entrance to your home, experts strongly recommend that you also include a backup power supply to keep the door secure if the power goes out.
RFID front door lock by Steve Pomeroy / CC BY-SA 2.0
10. Fail-Secure and Fail-Safe Electric Strike Locks
Any electric door latch type you install requires at least a 12-volt electrical current or higher to perform correctly. They’re commonly called fail-secure devices, and electric strike locks ensure that your doors stay secure and locked if the power were to go out. Any door that has this lock type on it also comes with door knobs that allow someone to open it from the inside during a power outage.
So, while a fail-secure electric strike lock will stay locked with power interruptions, a fail-safe electric strike lock can get unlocked during a power outage. If you decide to integrate this lock type into your security system, you want to have a backup power source on-hand to stop losing power from compromising the security of your business or home.
Electric lock in inner door by Tampere Hacklab / CC BY 2.0
Padlocks have been popular for decades, and they’re easily one of the most recognizable locks people have. You can use them for a huge range of things, including locking your sheds, locking exterior doors, securing your garage doors, and adding another layer of security to your business or home. Padlocks were actually used way back during the Roman Era in 500 BC to 300 AD, so they have a rich history.
You’ll typically find padlocks used as an additional security measure to boost something that is already in place. This is especially true for exterior doors. A lot of businesses and factories use padlocks with other door latch types to help protect any valuable items they have inside. Padlocks have changed and evolved a lot in the recent decades while maintaining their integrity as some of the most dependable locks you can get.
Padlock by James Case / CC BY 2.0
12. Sliding Door Locks
Many burglars consider a home with sliding glass doors a much easier target to rob. Although they’re very popular in sunrooms, you can find sliding glass doors leading out to patios and decks too. A standard sliding glass door will come with a factory lock that doesn’t offer adequate protection or security. This is why you should consider replacing the door latch type with a smart lock or a two-bolt lock that comes specifically designed for this door type. A two-bolt lock will strengthen the door frame by having a steel bolt slid into the frame, and a smart lock can get remotely activated from inside or outside of the space.
Sliding Doors by Kelly Sue DeConnick / CC BY-SA 2.0
13. Remote Control Locks
If you have a totally automated security system, you’ll get one that lets you unlock or lock all of your doors while you’re laying in bed, in the shower, or anywhere inside the house. You can also double-check to ensure that each lock in a specific part of the home or building is locked. This removes the need to walk through the business or house and check them one by one. A few benefits of remote control locks include but are not limited to:
- Ability to schedule when the doors lock and unlock using an app
- Ability to connect floodlight systems to the locks so they switch on when you unlock the door
- Makes it easier for anyone with a physical disability to unlock or lock the doors
- Reduces business or home costs by removing the need for physical lock maintenance and key replacement
Phone by Codelocks Ltd / CC BY-ND 2.0
14. Combination Locks
A combination padlock features a dial with a number of letters or digits that you can turn. Once you line each dial up with the correct sequence, the padlock will release to open the lock. These door latch types are useful because they don’t need a key, so if you have to give a friend or family member access to your home to feed your pets or water your plants while you’re out of town, you won’t have to hand over a spare key. Instead, you can give them the combination
If you’re afraid that someone has your combination, you can reset it and put a different code in. The locks are also nice if you’re someone who routinely forgets or loses their keys because you won’t need a key to gain access to your home or greenhouse. However, the drawback to this door latch type is that it can be easy to figure out the code. They can be easier to break into than locks with keys.
Locked Door by Luke Jones / CC BY 2.0
15. Rim Locks
A rim lock is very similar to a mortice lock that we talked about earlier, but they use very different hardware. A rim lock gets secured in place by two screws on the locks inside, and they screw directly into the back of the cylinder. This door latch type gets mounted on the door on the internal side, and you get a long piece of metal that extends back out of the lock. This mechanism also runs directly through the door to the other side where it hits the opposite locking mechanism.
This lock style first gained popularity during the 20th century, but they fell out of favor as the primary security means to most houses. When you do use them, you typically combine them with another lock for an added security layer.
Carpenter Rim Lock by House of Antique Hardware / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
16. Barrel Bolt Locks
A barrel bolt lock is a very simple option that gets fixed onto doors or gates as an additional security means. You should never use this door latch type as the primary lock at your home. You see them installed on bathroom doors both commercial and at residences, and they’re commonly called sliding bolts. They have a single bolt that attaches to the door, and this slides across to fit into a catch that you screw onto the doorframe. You can choose from several different sizes. The smaller barrel bolt locks are common on internal doors and the larger ones are reserved for gates or external doors.
Many times, people put tow barrel bolt locks onto one door with one going near the top and one going near the bottom for better peace of mind. However, they’re not impossible to come through, but they can make it much more difficult for someone to gain access to a home. In turn, they could give up and go to another house.
You Have Been Fooled by Brian Sikorski / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
17. Chain Locks
Finally, a chain lock is very similar to a barrel bolt. You get the chain part of the lock that you attach to the door and the catch gets attached to the door frame. When you want to lock the door, you slide the chain into the catch. However, you can still open the door a few inches with this lock in place. They let you see who is outside of your door without allowing the person outside access until you undo the chain.
This is a very common door latch type in hotels, but they’re also popular with people who are wary about answering the door. However, you never want this to be the primary door latch type on your home, and you should use them in combination with another lock.
Lock by Laure Ritchie / CC BY 2.0
Door Lock Grading Scale
The American National Standards Institute has a scale that they use to grade the security abilities and performance of door latch types. Grade 1 locks are the commercial ones that are more expensive but stronger than Grade 2 locks or even Grade 3 locks. A locksmith will offer Grade 1 locks, but most home improvement or hardware stores don’t have them in stock.
Grade 2 locks encompass most interior door locks that you can pick up from hardware or home improvement stores. The ability of this specific lock grade to secure your door will depend on the type of door you want to secure and which materials the lock has in the build.
Finally, Grade 3 locks aren’t as strong as the other two categories, and you only want to have them on interior doors. You can easily pick this type of lock with a screwdriver or another tool you have lying around the house.
We’ve outlined 17 door latch types that you can use to secure your home, and you can now decide which one is going to work best for your wants and needs. We recommend that you take your time, compare your options, and make your final choice carefully so you’re sure that you get a lock that gives you a greater peace of mind.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.