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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

5 Ways To Improve Apartment Door Lock Security

by Wesley January 10, 2022

Whether you’re moving into a new place or don’t feel quite safe enough where you’re living now, apartment door lock security is imperative. It’s the barrier between your livelihood and safety and the rest of the world. Even if you live in a large building with multiple locked corridors and around-the-clock security, your apartment door lock should always be dependable when you need it.

Maybe you don’t think your apartment door lock needs enhancement because you trust the people who own your building already did their due diligence to protect you. Maybe you live in a safe neighborhood, and it’s improbable someone will invade your privacy. That’s great! Those are two things every tenant wishes they had, but not everybody is afforded that type of situation. 

Despite not being a homeowner with full autonomy over the locks in your residence, there are five things you can do to improve apartment door security:

  1. Choosing The Right Lock
  2. Strengthen Doors
  3. Maintain Locks
  4. Limit Access
  5. Find A Local Locksmith

But before we explore these five improvements, let’s answer some general apartment door lock questions that most people encounter.

FAQs

Can I change my apartment door’s lock?

Before you try an apartment door lock solution, it’s a good idea to look over your lease to see if any lock improvements are prohibited. Sometimes landlords or property management companies won’t allow modifications to your apartment door lock because they use a master key system. This popular method helps someone access your apartment for a routine maintenance check or during an emergency.

In other instances, state and local laws could prevent you from changing apartment door locks. If you’re struggling to find that information, give your landlord a quick call. It’s always beneficial to keep an open line of communication when it comes to improving apartment security!

What type of lock is on my apartment door?

The first step in understanding the deficiencies of your apartment door lock is knowing what lock you currently have. There are three common types of residential locks that are used most on apartment doors:

  • Deadbolt: This is the most commonly used apartment door lock type because it works best on exterior doors. The vast majority of apartments will have some version of an exterior door that either opens up to a street or parking lot or an enclosed hallway inside the building. If your apartment has an exterior door, take a quick look! It probably has a deadbolt lock.
  • Door Knob Lock: This type of apartment door lock is exactly what it sounds like, a lock on the doorknob. In terms of security from the outside world, a knob lock is not the most effective. Used often for interior doors, the knob lock can provide protection if you live in an apartment with multiple rooms inside your unit, but not necessarily as the primary backbone of apartment security.
  • Mortise Lock: This type of lock can also be seen on apartment door locks but is more prevalent in commercial settings. Mortises use a complex, specialized internal locking mechanism that latches into a pocket with multiple parts. 

Deadbolts, doorknobs, and mortise locks can all be enhanced by adding a deadbolt mechanism to their respective doors. Ask any locksmith, and they’ll say the best way to heighten security with a residential lock is to make it a deadbolt. Locksmiths can also boost apartment security with tons of other helpful tips, but we’ll get into that later.

Which type of apartment door lock is the most secure?

When it comes to apartment door locks, you find a lot of monotony. Sometimes that’s bad, and sometimes it’s just a sign the most popular way of doing something is also the most effective. In this case, deadbolt locks are common because they work and are considered by industry locksmith professionals as the most secure. 

How a deadbolt works is it utilizes a keyed cylinder bolt that extends into the wall. The metal bolt keeps the door in place until the correct key turns the cylinder, retracting the bolt. Deadbolts are also harder locks to pick because they don’t rely on springs or pins to release the mechanism.

Most people can learn on YouTube how to pick a spring-activated lock with a credit card and a little bit of practice. That’s not what you want for your apartment door lock, so go with a trusted and sturdy deadbolt lock.

1. Choosing The Right Lock

It may seem like the most obvious solution, but equipping your apartment door with a proven, reliable door lock is the best way to boost security. Everyone has a different living situation, but it’s possible your landlord didn’t spend top dollar on your apartment door lock. And that’s okay because the only person who should be making the key decisions when it comes to safety and security is you.

That process begins with choosing the right lock, and from what we’ve learned so far, the deadbolt is an obvious choice. No lock is completely invincible, and no lock is fully resistant to potential intruders, but the right deadbolt puts your apartment door lock in the best position to succeed. You won’t find another residential lock that provides the same level of security as a deadbolt, so if your apartment door lock doesn’t already have one, you should upgrade!

Now comes the time to choose which deadbolt is right for your apartment door lock. Did you know there are different types of deadbolts as well as different grades? Well, there are. And although you may not be a deadbolt expert, it’s helpful to know the differences to improve your apartment’s security. Deadbolts come in four main types:

  • Single-cylinder: Typical deadbolt lock that extends and retracts with the turn of a key and thumb turn to lock the door via a keyed cylinder mechanism.
  • Double-cylinder: Uses the same keyed cylinder mechanism to move the bolt back-and-forth into the wall but there are two cylinders on both sides of the door.
  • One-sided cylinder (exterior trim): Specifically only used on doors that can’t be opened from the outside like the ones found in the back of businesses and restaurants. The deadbolt can only be accessed from the interior. 
  • One-sided cylinder (no trim): These locks are almost identical to the previous ones, except the deadbolt is invisible from the exterior. In other words, if someone were to walk up to one of these doors or were trying to break in, they wouldn’t be able to tell the door had a deadbolt lock on the inside.

Deadbolts are also manufactured to different strengths based on a grading system. There are three different grades, with Grade 1 being the strongest and Grades 2 and 3 getting progressively less secure.

But what do all of these single and double cylinders and grades actually mean? And how does this improve my apartment’s security? The real answer is, it depends! Every apartment door lock is different, and every tenant has a different budget. 

The only person who can truly give you the best advice and relevant information is a professional locksmith. If you’re someone who wants to know more from an expert, pick up the phone and talk through all your apartment door lock concerns!

2. Strengthen Doors

An effective apartment door lock can be meaningless without a strong door. That’s like driving a brand new car with a faulty transmission. One doesn’t support the other and therefore limits its capabilities.

To stick with the car analogy, the front door of your apartment is equivalent to the windshield. Without that solid barrier of protection, you don’t feel safe, and you’re unable to properly secure two areas of your life that need it most.

The process of strengthening your apartment door can either be simple or very technical. Maybe all your door needs is a replacement of its old wooden frame with a more secure metal door frame.

A change like that is monumental in terms of boosting apartment security. Conducting a routine check of the door itself along with the knobs and hinges is also a simple and helpful self-assessment.

But when you start diving into more of the technical side of door strength, there are a few ways you can reinforce the existing door to enhance protection. Some hardware stores will have do-it-yourself door reinforcement kits, but if you don’t know what to look for, they may not be that useful. Here are three methods that have proved to be effective in strengthening apartment doors:

  • Replace Screws: Apartment door hinges and most doors, for that matter, are attached to the frame with half-inch screws. Replacing those smaller screws with three-inch screws will advance your door’s security by making it significantly harder for an intruder to break down the door.
  • Reinforce Door Jambs: A method growing in popularity amongst professionals in the home security industry are reinforced steel hinges and strike plates. A weak or damaged strike plate makes replacing the screws obsolete. With enough powerful kicks to your apartment door, somebody could break through. Reinforcing the plates and hinges will save you enough time to call for help and alert authorities in a time of panic. Door Devil is one of the industry leaders with products that achieve this goal.
  • Add Security Screen: Some apartments will already have these, but a metal security screen in front of the main door can also bolster security. As long as you’re okay with the appearance of metal bars on your front door, this tactic shows outsiders you care about protecting your domicile.

Some apartment buildings fail to update these critical parts of the door that make it secure. You could have a door that’s decades old and responsible for keeping you and all of your valuable possessions safe.

Even though circumstances are out of your control because you don’t own the building, it may force you to strengthen the door yourself in critical times, or you can always call a trusted professional. Locksmiths are equipped to reinforce apartment doors efficiently, and they know what modifications work best on certain doors.

3. Maintain Locks

Like we said earlier, some apartments haven’t been updated in several years, which poses security problems for both your apartment door lock and overall protection. Does the equipment look modern? Do you think somebody could easily manipulate the locks? If you even hesitate to answer these questions, it’s probably worth investigating further.

Metal locks deteriorate over time, and that directly correlates with their effectiveness. All mechanisms need upkeep until they can no longer function properly, and then the next step is a replacement. This is where a positive relationship with your landlord becomes handy. Most lease agreements provide free maintenance checks and repairs to damaged materials.

Your apartment door lock should be included in that, but it’s your responsibility to ask or seek outside help from an experienced locksmith. Defective locks provide no safeguard for your apartment and need to be maintained correctly.

4. Limit Access

This may sound like common sense, but the fewer people who have keys to your apartment, the fewer opportunities there are for unwanted individuals to come through your doorway. It can be tricky if you have multiple roommates with varying schedules.

The constant entering and exiting of people from your apartment literally opens the door for mistakes, so don’t give more people access than necessary.

If your roommate’s friend brings a lot of people around on weekends and you don’t feel safe, talk to your roommate and convey that you’re skeptical about giving them unlimited access to the apartment. Sometimes it’s your own children you have to worry about. 

Giving all your kids a key to the apartment before they go off to school can create a situation where one of them loses or drops the key around your building. This is not how you want to meet your neighbors, and it’s not the message you want to send anyone who could be scanning the area for security breaches.

It might be a good idea to only give one of your kids the apartment key to limit risk! And speaking of security breaches, don’t hide a spare key under the mat. I know you might be thinking, do people still do that? Let’s hope for the sake of every renter’s apartment security, the answer is no.

And this includes not hiding a key under a plant, rock, flower bed, patio furniture, or on top of the doorway either. These are all common places that any novice burglar will check so they can immediately trespass, which defeats the whole purpose of having an apartment door lock.  

5. Find A Local Locksmith

This entire article of what goes into making your apartment door lock more secure can be accomplished by a professional locksmith. Maybe some of the nuances of door jambs, strike plates, and double-sided cylinder deadbolts didn’t make any sense to you. 

There’s no shame in not understanding this information because an experienced locksmith with several years of security insight will know exactly what your apartment door lock needs.

Sure you can spend endless hours in the hardware store or on the internet configuring your own apartment security system, but a locksmith already knows what to do. After one phone call and follow-up inspection, a locksmith can start doing that work for you. 

A locksmith’s expertise will help you decide what door reinforcement or lock replacement measures are needed. It’s even possible that your landlord hired a locksmith in the first place to install your apartment door locks.

In the meantime, other tenants, families, and children opened and closed that same apartment door repeatedly over several years. The equipment only works for so long, and at some point, maintenance is required. Locksmiths are there to bridge that security gap when you need it.

Closing Words

Renting an apartment alleviates certain burdens from your life, such as having to repair and preserve broken things around and inside your unit. According to the most reliable U.S. Census data from 2019, 36% of America’s 122.8 million households are rented.

That’s millions of apartment door locks working to protect tenants like you from the outside world. Most of those locks are probably adequate, but everyone’s personal security is different.

Knowing that when you lock your door every night before bed or on your way out the door for work, there’s a reduced chance someone bypasses your apartment door lock is a comforting feeling. We all deserve that sense of restfulness, and the people who know how to execute the right plan are locksmiths.

Category: Lock Types, Residential, Safety & Security

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