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Locked and loaded: a brief breakdown of common lock types

Edited by Admin
Locked and loaded: a brief breakdown of common lock types

Here is a summary of the various types of locks that you might consider for your home or business.


  • Deadbolts: This locking mechanism is a common, simple locking device that requires a key to rotate the lock cylinder to the open position. Most commonly seen in homes or other exterior doors, this lock is often used in combination with a less-secure lock to add an extra layer of security.
  • Single Cylinder: Common in housing security, these locks operate with a key on the outside and thumbturn on the inside.
  • Double Cylinder: More secure than a Single Cylinder, these locks require a key for both the inside and the outside. Because of this security feature, they can also post a safety hazard in the event of an emergency. Check your local housing codes before installing this lock, specifically when it comes to rental properties.
  • Lockable Thumbturn Style: This deadbolt style of lock offers maximum security as it can be locked from both the inside and the outside. As a hybrid of single and double cylinder locks, it has a key cylinder on one side and a thumbturn on the other that can be locked with a key. When used in homes, if someone is in the residence, the thumbturn can be left in the unlocked position which allows the door to function like a standard single cylinder deadbolt. If the thumbturn is locked then no one on the outside or inside can operate the lock.
  • Knob Locks: Common on exterior home doors, these locks are a simple form of spring lock that is often paired with a deadbolt.  On its own it is not overly secure as the cylinder is in the knob and not the door.
  • Lever Handle Locks: Frequently seen in commercial settings, this lock is compliant with accessibility standards as they have a lever that serves as a rotatable turn knob on one side and a key cylinder on the other. Typically used on interior doors, these are not a very secure form of lock as they can often be opened by force.
  • Vending/T-Locks: You’ve probably seen these locks on vending machines and ATMs. Unlike other locks, when you open a Vending/T-Lock you actually remove the lock from the device. These locks come with one of two options – a spring latch or a dead latch. If your lock has the spring latch, it automatically relocks when the t-handle is popped back into place. If you have the dead latch, the lock needs to be re-secured using a key.
  • Interchangeable Core Cylinders: These are the lock of choice for big businesses or institutions that may require frequent changes to security. Their design makes it easy to change the lock as the core can be replaced without having to take the whole lock out. 
  • Bolt Style Furniture Locks: This lock has a flat piece of metal that extends out the side or top of the lock to secure objects like drawers, desks and cabinets.
  • Push Button Style Furniture Locks: These locks offer a security solution for filing cabinets and sometimes can be found on sliding glass doors. The rod extends out the back of the lock when the lock is locked. When unlocked, the lock pops out, retracting the rod into the body. To re-secure the lock, simply press it back into its shell.
  • Cam Locks: Offering a low level of security, these simple locks are often found on filing cabinets or mailboxes. They are made up of a base (where the key is inserted) and a cam (the tail that acts as a latch).
  • Electronic (Digital) Locks: This technology is often used in cars and hotels (i.e. numbered pin pads) but has begun to appear in other contexts.  Convenient to rekey, these locks can be programmed easily, without needing to change the actual lock hardware.
  • Smart Locks: This new technology has become popular with the rise of smartphones. These locks replace the thumbturn and cam be operated through the use of an app.
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