The various lock types used on modern doors

6th January 2018

Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot. And never brought to la...de..la..de laa. Well, I remembered the first line about forgetting, and ironically forgot the rest. But anyway, a very happy 2018 to you. We’re living in the future now. Yet still no flying cars, robot butlers or jetpacks – I’m beginning to think we were lied to about those. 

Speaking of lying, that’s one thing I won’t be doing in this blog (you’ll note my New Year’s resolution to avoid tenuous segues has already been broken) which I intend to act as a reminder about a topic I may well have covered once or twice in the past. This subject is, of course, locks. It’s kind of what I do. I could start writing a blog about the early 20th economist, John Maynard Keynes, but quite honestly I’m more confident in my knowledge of locks rather than early 20th Century economic theory. 

The most common types of lock

So, to ease us all into another lock-filled year, I’ll take a quick look at the locks we’re all the most familiar with – those on our own front doors. It might be a bit late for the New Year’s Eve quizzes we all enjoyed, testing us on the subject of deadlocks and night latches, but you can always remember the information for next year in order to be the coolest person at the party. 

Up until the last 30 years, the choice of locks was pretty simple. Most of us had doors made out of timber, and to these we could fit a night latch or a deadlock. The night latch would be familiar to most people as a “Yale” lock –a case, like Hoover and Tannoy, where the name of the manufacturer has become synonymous with the actual product itself. In a similar fashion, dead locks would be widely known as Chubb locks.

These two locks are still very much in evidence today on old doors, as well as new variations of the design on some new builds or commercial premises. However, as you’re no doubt aware, UPVC doors have become the door of choice for most residential properties in the last few decades and these generally use a different system, known as a multipoint lock. These offer more security as there are more locking points between the door and the frame, meaning less chance of an intruder crowbarring their way in as they could if there was just a single point of locking. A multipoint lock generally comprises bolts, hooks and rollers, and is more complex than on the older locks as, despite still only using one key, the mechanism runs up and down the whole side of the door. 

How to choose a new lock

When choosing a new lock, the first thing is to see what type of front door you have – here we will deal with timber and UPVC/composite doors only. For timber doors I would recommend a British Standard lock – this should have a visible kitemark either on the face of the lock or on the mechanism itself. Ensure it is up to date, as lock manufacturers are constantly making improvements to stay a step ahead of the criminal fraternity.  Insurance companies will often insist on a certain standard of lock, but if you get an up to date British Standard model, this should be enough to satisfy most insurers. 

If you go for a night latch, I would encourage you to opt for one with an additional deadlock facility. This means the inside mechanism can be locked too. Without this, a burglar can just wrap an arm around, through a broken window or some such, and let themselves in from the outside. If it’s deadlocked they are unable to do this. For a timber door, my top recommendation would be a five-lever British Standard mortice lock. As a rule of thumb, the more levels, the more secure the lock is, and a five-lever mortice provides excellent protection. It may be a little costlier than others on the market, but well worth it. 

For UPVC doors, as mentioned earlier, the lock of choice will be a multipoint lock. Again, the more locking points in the door, the greater the security. Despite this greater protection, the Achilles heel of these locks became evident when it came to the phenomenon of lock snapping. Intruders would literally snap off the lock cylinder, and be able to break in to the property in no more than a few seconds. As design flaws went, this was a pretty major one. 

Luckily, the manufacturers of these locks finally got wise to it and produced new anti-snap locks which were unable to be snapped in this way. However, there are a LOT of the old variety of snappable locks still fitted in houses up and down the country. If yours is one of them I would strongly urge you to replace them with newer models. When it comes to choosing a replacement, it’s worth knowing that the locks are rated on a star system. A three-star cylinder is the best option to replace your old style multipoint lock, though if you can’t get a three-star model, then combining a one-star cylinder with a two-star security handle would also suffice. However, even a one-star cylinder on its own still provides better protection than an old style snappable model. 

Well, there’s a brief look at a few lock options for your front door. Perhaps not the most exciting way to start the New Year admittedly, but the only way is up from here. If you take just one piece of advice away from this, it would be to check on those locks on your UPVC doors to ensure they’re up to standard. If they aren’t, or you have any concerns about anything lock-related, please give me a call on 01709 847191

Happy New Year to all my customers.



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