The Different Styles Of Lock (And What They Do)

There are many different styles of locks and keys, and each one serves a very specific purpose. In a lot of cases, the types of lock you have fitted in your home will affect your insurance premiums, and some might even entitle you to discounts. But more than that, each different type of lock offers a different level or element of security depending on what it’s used for, so you can choose your locks based on your needs.

Mortice Locks

A mortice lock covers any kind of lock, which is fitted into the edge of the door, with just the outer edge visible. The most common kind of lock for front and back doors, there are a few different variants to choose from. The main mechanism is fitted into a pocket within the door itself, with the locking mechanism standing proud. Mortice locks are available in deadlock and sashlock versions. Each of these locks uses a deadlock bolt to secure the door when locked, but a sashlock also includes a latch bolt attachment, which keeps the door in the closed position. The latch bolt variation is preferable here, as it keeps the door closed without needing to lock it, so if you ever forget, the door will still stay closed. The five-lever mortice deadlock is the most popular lock and standard in most homes. It’s always worth checking the type of lock you have installed – as most insurance companies will offer you discounted premiums for a five-lever mortice deadlock lock that conforms to British Regulations BS 3621 because of the added security they offer.

Mortice locks can also be supplied with horizontal locks, sliding door locks and bathroom locks. Bathroom locks are a much simpler mechanism, only requiring a turn of a latch from the inside instead of a key, and often include an emergency release on the outside for safety. For sliding doors, the standard mortice lock is ineffective, and instead we use a modified version that includes a hook and claw attachment to keep the door secure and in place. This is often operated by a lever as well as a key.

You likely already have a mortice lock fitted onto the outer doors of your home. A standard lock offers moderate protection against invasion and break-ins, while the upgraded variations offer slightly more protection. These locks tend to work best when combined with other security measures, such as external deadbolts and security chains.

Rim Locks

A rim lock is the universal term for any lock fitted to the side of a door. These was the first style of lock invented, and is also the most versatile and varied. Rim locks can be split down into a further 3 categories: Nightlatches, Rim Deadlocks and Rim Sashlocks.

Nightlatch locks use a large latch bolt to fasten doors, which is drawn back by turning the knob handle. The bolt on these locks is engaged automatically with the keep, so it can keep the door in position. A simple Nightlatch is the most commonly used. It has a deadlock bolt and knob, and also features a snib. A snib (which is a small, round sliding catch) can be used to used to further deadlock the bolt into either the locked or unlocked position. This adds extra security when locked, and keeps the door unlocked when you need it to, so you can bring in the shopping in 2 trips without fumbling for keys or leaving the door wide open.

A Deadlocking Nightlatch operates almost exactly the same way, except it also features a key operated deadbolt, so the door can be deadlocked from the outside for added security. Third in the line is an Auto Deadlocking Nightlatch, which includes all of the previous nightlatch options and adds a third locking option. This is in the form of an extra deadlocking pin just above or below the main bolt. When the door is closed, the pin is depressed into the lock case, automatically deadlocking the bolt. Each of these three models of locks offers an increased level of security, and is perfect for outer doors to your home. In fact, the simple nightlatch lock makes an excellent companion to a mortice lock.

As well as these, there are 2 distant cousins of the simple nightlatch lock. These are the nightlatch deadbolt and the nightlatch rollerbolt. A Nightlatch Deadbolt uses a very solid bolt to lock, and is operated by a key from the outside or a handle from the inside of the door. Some of these bolts have a catch system in place, so the bolt will stay withdrawn until the door is shut, and close automatically. A Nightlatch Rollerbolt utilises aspring-loaded deadbolt with a roller on the leading edge of the bolt, which allows the door to be held in the closed position without locking it. The door can then be opened by a simple push, or by extending the roller bolt.

It’s important to note here that all of these styles of lock on their own are considered very low security, and usually only found on period homes as the sole locking mechanism. However, if you wanted to add a little extra security onto your existing locks, they are a safe bet.

Lever Handle & Knob Locks

Lever handle and knob locks are often found on internal doors, and never on external doors, mainly because they are easy to break. With a knob lock, for example, the entire locking mechanism is in the knob, and not in the door itself, so all you would have to do is snap the knob off to gain entry. This makes them good for internal use for privacy – like for home office doors, but useless for any actual security purpose. Lever handle locks are a bit more secure, and are usually used in commercial settings or in the homes of the handicapped. This is mainly because they are easier to use than knob locks, and require a key and internal locking mechanism. However, there is a technique known as ‘torqueing’, which is used to snap the locks, but only by applying excessive force. Because of this, a lot of modern lever handle locks have a ‘clutch’ function built it, so that under excessive force they will simply turn, and apply no pressure to the lock itself.

Furniture Locks

It’s not always about external security. Sometimes when we have a collection of valuable things, we like to keep them on display, or to hand, but still secure. This is where furniture locks come in handy. This style of lock can be fitted to desks, cabinets, drawers, sliding doors and much more. They come in both bolt style and push button, each of which has it’s own advantages. Bolt style locks have 2 sets of flat metal on either side to secure the lock to the furniture, while a push button lock pops out of the lock casing when unlocked, and needs to be pushed back in to lock it. If you are looking to keep precious possessions or sensitive information safe, keeping them behind a furniture lock is advisable.

Of course, that’s not all of the lock styles that exist – but it does give you a bit of an insight into the variety of locks available, and how you could use each one within your home. At My Locks Locksmith we specialise in, you guessed it, locks! So we’re perfectly placed to identify which lock type you need for your door and security needs, as well as supply and professionally fit them for you. If you have any questions about the locks in your home, or feel like you need a security upgrade, just get in touch with the team at My Locks today.