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The Key to Picking the Best Door Locks

Door Locks by author Meghan Carter

  • The two types of exterior door locks.
  • Which type of exterior door lock is best.
  • When to use interior door locks.
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   If you've ever walked in on someone in the bathroom, you understand the importance of door locks. They are the key to protecting our privacy against unobservant bathroom intruders, and on a more serious note, thieves who want to steal from the home we spent hours decorating.
    But despite our desire to protect our prized china and perfectly arranged bookshelves, the majority of us suffer from door lock disregard - me included. While some believe it's better to live in ignorance, I decided that my lack of door lock knowledge needed to be remedied - especially considering my gorgeous home could be at stake.
    When you're interested in learning about door locks, one option is to interview those who pick them on a day-to-day basis. But honestly, they can't be trusted. So instead, I decided to visit those who make them, and headed to Baldwin Hardware for a full day of door lock education.

The Types of Exterior Door Locks

    My day began by meeting my instructor, Tom Embriani, Baldwin Hardware's Technical Trainer and Representative. He started my lesson by teaching me the difference between the two basic types of door locks: the mortise and the tubular.

Mortise Door Locks:
With a mortise lock, you get the whole package in one. The latch bolt and dead bolt are all included in a box that is fitted nicely within your door. You can tell if your door is fitted for a mortise lock by looking at the edge of the door where your latch is. If your door has one faceplate for both your latch and your dead bolt, you have a mortise lock.

Tubular Door Locks:
Considered to be slightly less advanced than the mortise lock, the tubular lock keeps the latch bolt and dead bolt separate. Each part of the lock is fitted into a different hole cut into your door. You can tell if you have a tubular lock by looking at the edge of your door. If you have separate faceplates for your latch and your dead bolt, you probably have a tubular lock.

The Best Exterior Door Locks

    Being trained as a savvy consumer, my first question was, "So which type of exterior door lock is better?" If you use price as your gauge, then mortise is the winner, according to Embriani. Mortise locks are typically installed on nicer doors.
But honestly, the only time you have a choice between the two different types of locks is when you're buying a completely new door. If you're simply changing the door hardware on a current door in your home, you should get the same type of lock you already have because the two different locks require different types of holes to be drilled in your door, and if you try to put a mortise lock in a door fitted for a tubular lock, it will just turn out ugly.
    While you may think you need to go get a new door and install a mortise lock in order to get the ultimate security, don't panic. Both types of locks will keep you safe. The important thing to consider when buying a new exterior door lock is quality. You should always ask what features the lock offers. For example, Embriani showed me how both the mortise and tubular locks offered by Baldwin have saw-proof bolts. Granted I don't know how many thieves go door-to-door with hacksaws, but that feature will make you sleep more soundly at night.

Interior Door Locks

    Unlike exterior door locks, interior door locks are fairly wimpy. Instead of having saw-proof bolts made especially to keep everyone out - including you if you forget your key, interior locks have built-in, safety measures that allow everyone to get in. Yea, that does sort of defeat the entire purpose of having a lock, but it's for a good reason.
    "If grandma is in the bathroom and she falls down and is laying there unconscious, you don't want to have to take a chainsaw to the door to get in," Embriani said. "So [the built-in safety measures] provide a way to get in, in case of an emergency."
    When you install interior door locks for you home, they're not meant to provide the ultimate in security. Instead, think of interior door locks as a wonderful way to avoid those highly embarrassing moments when someone walks in on you in the bathroom. For everything else, they're fairly useless - especially hiding Christmas presents. Your kids - or spouse for that matter - will learn how to get through the lock in seconds.

Photo Credits: Baldwin Hardware

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