Home » Other Home » Deadbolt vs Latch vs Knob vs Cam vs Chain vs Pad vs Mortise Locks

Deadbolt vs Latch vs Knob vs Cam vs Chain vs Pad vs Mortise Locks

Are you installing a door and need a new lock? Or maybe you’re looking to upgrade your existing door-locking mechanism. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to learn about the following seven types of door locks and security systems and how secure each of them is.

Types of Locks

Why You Should Know About Door Locks

Door locks are your first line of defense against intruders. They offer a level of security that no other tool or appliance can replace. Door locks are set in place to protect your home or workplace from trespassers and maintain privacy for those inside.

On average, 2.5 million burglaries take place each year, with roughly two-thirds of those occurring in homes. Knowing what kind of door locks there are and how secure each is can be the difference between keeping your family safe and becoming a part of a statistic.


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Different Kinds of Door Locks

An informed homeowner is a safe homeowner. Below, we’ll describe seven kinds of door locks and evaluate each in terms of efficacy at protecting your home from intruders.

Deadbolt

Deadbolts are often considered the number-one best form of protection against home intrusions. They have fewer moving parts than other kinds of door locks, and as such, are less prone to being pried open or damaged with drills, blunt objects, and brute force. Deadbolts come in a variety of types, but the most widely used types are single-cylinder, double-cylinder, and smart deadbolts.

Both single- and double-cylinder deadbolts require a key to unlock the bolt from outside. When unlocking them from within, single-cylinder deadbolts have a thumb turn that you or a child can activate and deactivate with ease, whereas double-cylinder deadbolts require the use of a key.

Deadbolt
Deadbolt

Smart deadbolts, a.k.a. keyless or electronic deadbolts, allow you to lock and unlock the door with your smartphone. Owners can customize access routines and schedules for themselves and others. You can also monitor the status of the deadbolt from your smartphone, provided both you and it are connected to the internet.

How Safe Are Deadbolts?

The level of safety that deadbolts offer varies from type to type. Single-cylinder deadbolts are mainly used for doors where residents need quick access to the outdoors in the event of fires, but they’re easily unlockable by children.

Double-cylinder deadbolts are arguably the safest type of residential-grade door lock out there, due to their minimal moving parts and two-way keyed locking system.

Smart deadbolts aren’t hack-proof, and there’s always a possibility that someone you grant access to can abuse it. Also, they’re vulnerable to physical damage with a screwdriver and hammer.

Deadbolt | Recommended

Our Pick
Kwikset 660 Single Cylinder Deadbolt...
Kwikset 660 Single Cylinder Deadbolt...
WARRANTY: Lifetime mechanical and finish warranty

Latch

Door latches are a mechanized locking system that shut doors and keep them shut. They often work in conjunction with deadbolts to keep doors shut tight, though they both work independently from one another. Latches automatically engage when you shut the door, whereas a deadbolt requires either a key or a thumb turn to lock and unlock.

Door Latch
Door Latch

Are Latches Safe?

Door latches, on their own, are unreliable. Their primary purpose is to keep doors shut and prevent drafts from coming in, but a simple turn of the doorknob is enough to disengage the latch and grant anyone access into your home. Latches come standard in most door-closing designs but require an additional locking mechanism to ensure safety and security.

Knob Locks

Door knob locks are door knobs that come with a built-in locking system. Pressing the knob lock button engages a cylinder and prevents entry from the outdoors.

Door knob locks come with a set of keys that allow the owner to gain entry into the door in the event of accidental locking—i.e., pressing the lock button and closing the door from the outside. You’ll mainly find door knob locks on bathroom doors and office doors in commercial buildings.

Knob Locks
Knob Locks

Are Knob Locks Safe?

No, they are not, at least when used as the sole locking mechanism for external doors. A simple set of tools, including but not limited to a hammer and power drill, can disengage the cylinder from the outside.

Knob Lock | Recommended

Our Pick
Copper Creek BK2040SS Ball Door Knob, Keyed...
Copper Creek BK2040SS Ball Door Knob, Keyed...
ANSI Grade-3 Security Keyed Entry Ball Knob; Steel Round Corner Adjustable Latch; Nickel...

Cam

Cam locks are a type of fastener used to lock the doors of cabinets and drawers. They’re generally smaller than other types of locks, thus have little effect on the outward appearance of kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Cam locks rely on a narrow cylinder to lock and unlock with a turn of a key.

Cam Lock
Cam Lock

Are Cam Locks Safe?

For medicine cabinets and kitchen drawers, sure. As a system to prevent home intruders, not at all. Cam locks are susceptible to damage and can grant anyone access into your home when used as the sole front door security system. Even using cam locks on garage windows can be a risk since intruders can break them easily and gain access to your power tools (which sell easily on social media marketplaces).

Door Chain Locks

A door chain is a chain that allows homeowners to open their doors a couple of inches to speak with whoever is standing on the other side. This system is comprised of three components—a chain, a roll strap, and a header bracket. The latter two components fasten onto the backside of your door and the doorframe, respectively. Releasing the chain from the roll strap will allow you to open your door all the way.

Door Chain Lock
Door Chain Lock

Are Door Chain Locks Safe?

They can be but only to a certain extend. A properly installed door chain will prevent visitors from using large tools to break the chain while also leaving physical evidence of their attempts. However, an improperly installed chain can be easily broken by repeatedly pushing the door from the outside. Chains work best in conjunction with other types of door locks.

Padlocks

Pads or padlocks are a free-standing locking mechanism, meaning you can attach and detach it at any time. They come in a variety of models and finishes, and can be activated and deactivated by using a key, a number code, or a combination of the two. The padlock’s shackle—the hook-shaped component—raises and lowers to unlock and lock, allowing you to slip it through a series of metal loops to keep doors, gates, fences, and even diaries locked tight.

Padlocks
Padlocks

Are Pads Safe?

They can be, as long as home intruders have no idea where they are. No matter how large they are, padlocks are the weakest point of an iron gate or fence, and if an intruder can locate it, they can break it open with a hammer or power tools. Padlocks can be reliable if you use them on the indoor part of your doors.

Pad | Recommended

Our Pick
Master Lock Combination Locker Lock,...
Master Lock Combination Locker Lock,...
Preset three-digit combination lock for keyless convenience; Available in blue, red, and...

Mortise

Mortise locks are not an independent locking system like some of the types mentioned earlier. They are an entire lockset that consists of a lever-activated latch, and a key-activated cylinder and a deadbolt. While they have numerous moving components, they are a lot less prone to physical damage as most of the mortise lock is installed within the door and door frame.

Mortise Lock
Mortise Lock

Are Mortise Locks Safe?

Yes, they are, at least when properly installed. Mortise locks come in both industrial-grade and home-grade varieties, but both are considered to be top-notch in terms of maintaining security and privacy. Mortise locksets are larger than standard cylindrical locks and are not vulnerable to outside damage without leaving clear physical evidence.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it; seven types of door locking systems that can help improve home security and the safety of your family. Please note that these door locking systems are not mutually exclusive, so feel free to “mix and match” whatever systems you feel will provide your family with the highest level of home security.


If you have any questions or comments, please add them below in the comment section. Similarly, please let us know if you spot any mistakes or omissions. Thanks!


Last Update: 2022-12-08 | Affiliate links/Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Hi I’m Alex, founder of HouseholdMe.com and I’d like to say thank you for dropping by. Like most of you, the first thing I look at before buying something online is reviews or buying guides. By reading what other people say will help me gauge whether or not a product is good or not.  I am trying to help people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired.

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