A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph Goodman
Storefront entry doors are the way people come into your business. They are the first interaction anyone has with your building. A storefront door lock is going to keep those doors secure. But that is an oversimplification of the role storefront locks play in the daily routine of a building. You should not underestimate the importance of a storefront door lock, but that does not mean you need to spend a fortune getting what you need. Here are the things you need to know about saving money on your storefront locks.
You need to know what your goals are, and the types of complications you can run into when you are looking at purchasing a storefront door lock. When it comes to storefront entry doors, there are several key things that demand your attention.
Door Construction – The materials your storefront entry doors are made out of greatly coincide with the effectiveness of the locks. They will play a role in the security considerations, possible safety strategy, and what you can expect to get out of your storefront locks. A storefront door lock is only a good as the door it is attached to. Locks are meant to control the functioning of the storefront entry doors, so the door will determine some restriction or necessities of the lock it will use.
Security – Protection is a foundational concern for storefront entry doors because it is the main reason to have a door. However, just a door is not enough for security. A storefront door lock needs to be able to secure doors from opening. For some businesses, this feature may be necessary during hours of operation as well as when the store is closed for the night. It is important to know how the security of a storefront door lock is overcome so that you can find the threats you are most vulnerable to.
Safety – Not every storefront door lock is appropriate for in all occasions. Security may not always be the main concern for a particular door. Fast and unencumbered egress is a must for larger storefronts are certainly a necessity for any shop whose industry raises the chances of an emergency incident. Sometimes storefront locks have to be equipped to be intuitive and quick to open in order to benefit customers and employees. Depending on the floor plan of the building, the storefront entry doors might also be the most viable emergency exit.
Lifespan – How long a storefront door lock will last determines its overall effectiveness. It can get rather costly to always be replacing your storefront locks. You want locks that are going to stand the test of time, and in a commercial setting, time can move rather quickly. The concern is about more than just a tarnished finish (and the “lifetime guarantee” most locks offer is strictly on the finish). You want internal components that are not going the break due to repeated locking and unlocking. You also want a lock that is going to resist the weathering your local area is subjected to.
Expectations – You have to understand what level of protection you are hoping to get from your storefront door lock. It is wrong to expect ten or even twenty dollar storefront locks to adequately protect thousands of dollars worth of product and/or equipment. It is important to be realistic with both your intended goals and the ability of a storefront door lock. High expectations are perfectly fine, as long as they are realistic.
When you understand the biggest concerns with your storefront entry doors, you can better determine where it makes sense to spend your money. Being aware of where you need to invest in order to achieve your expectations streamlines the selection process for your storefront locks. Here are some of the things you may want to devote some money to achieving with a storefront door lock.
Convenience – How quickly an employee can close and open the store allows for some financial benefit, but that is not the only reason to invest in convenience. If the security demands of a store are severe enough to demand authorization for entrance and exit, a buzz-in system can provide a convenient way to allow customers to come and go without disturbing employees from completing other tasks. Convenience can also have to do with ease of egress. It is important to remember that, more often than not, the more convenient something is, the less secure it is. This is something that rings true for the use of a storefront door lock.
Pick Resistance – Many people consider lock picking to be a major threat to their storefront locks. However, it is very unlikely that a criminal will try to pick your locks. It is true that all locks can be picked, but that is more of an intellectual truism than it is a statement of threat. Unless you have been made aware of a specific threat in your area or to your storefront, there is a very slim chance that a storefront door lock will be picked open. There are still ways to decrease the susceptibility of a storefront door lock to picking that will also take care of more pressing security threats.
Anti-Bump – A storefront door lock is more likely to be attacked with bump keys. For that reason, you need a lock that can protect against lock bumping. Understanding why bump keys don’t work on cars can give some insight on the types of investments you can make to benefit the anti-bump protection of a storefront door lock. Anti-bump methods assist in creating pick resistance because the same internal components that keep bump keys from effectively opening a lock can also cause confusion for lock pickers. Methods used for key control, such as patented keys, can also reduce the chances of bumping open a storefront door lock.
Key Control – If you are looking to avoid the issues caused by internal threats, you must have some form of key control for your storefront locks. Key control has a lot to do with making sure that only individuals who were given access have it. It is also intended to assure that once access is revoked, this can be relied upon as verification that the affected parties no longer have keys to any storefront door lock. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to use a storefront door lock that has a patented keyway. Patented keys cannot be copied without a special key cutter on a restricted key blank. It is unlikely for criminals to have access to these resources, and prevents employees from making copies that you don’t know about.
Metal Composition – The metal of any storefront door lock has to be sturdy. Solid hardened metal construction is a necessity to prevent the most common types of destructive entry. Those methods are mainly drilling, cutting, prying, and bludgeoning. With strong metal, drill bits and cutting tools will be deflected off the surface of the lock. (How effective this deflection is will largely be dependant on the hardness of the lock’s metal compared to the hardness of the bit or blade).
Prying and bludgeoning attacks will also need to bring a tremendous amount of force in order to be successful. These types of precautions limit what type of criminal could overcome your security. They reduce the risk of giving a burglar a lucky break and increase the amount of skill someone would need to undermine the security of your storefront locks.
Bypass Protection – Not all storefront locks are created equal, but some are made with weaknesses that almost anyone can covertly exploit. You can think of locks that have bypasses as creating the illusion of security. Such bypasses include, but are not limited to, through the door methods, shimming, and keyway exploits. Through the door bypasses can be prevented by closing the gap between storefront entry doors and the frame.
You can also remove the thumb turn on the interior side of the door, so there is nothing to manipulate once a criminal has moved their tool through the doorway. Shimming is most common with door handles/knobs, but if you are using a padlock as a storefront door lock, or as part of the security of your storefront entry doors, it can also be an issue. Not using a door handle lock exclusively, and choosing one of the best padlocks on the market, will take care of this issue. For insight on preventing keyway exploits, you will need to check with a professional for insight on your current lock or the lock you are looking to purchase.
Now that you know what you should be concerned about, and the aspects of your storefront locks that you want to invest in, there is no reason to break the bank achieving the quality security you are looking for with your storefront locks. Here are some of the money-saving tactics for storefront door locks. How much money can be saved will depend on whether you are looking to replace an existing storefront door lock, or if you are hoping to get storefront locks you need and do not already have. But in either case, there are ways to save money on storefront locks.
There are several instances where you can save a lot of money by rekeying a storefront door lock instead of taking on the cost of changing locks. The reason that rekeying is cheaper than other forms of replacement is their amount of the material being replaced is rather small. In the case of standard pin tumbler locks, the pins inside the lock cylinder are what makes a key work with the lock. These internal components will be the easiest to replace, and will likely be the cheapest lock type to rekey. This is due to their wide-scale use, which creates a general familiarity and increases the availability of these type of replacement parts.
Depending on the lock, the amount of money saved can be increased by taking on this task yourself. There are rekeying sets that come complete with instructions, pins, and new keys. However, these sets rarely offer high-security. If you are concerned with covert entry and key control, even having the ability to use one of these sets will signal the vulnerability of your lock. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it does mean you should re-assess the security being offered by your storefront door lock.
Rekeying is effective most commonly when a new vulnerability to key control is anticipated. This type of issue surfaces around the termination of an employee who had a key. In cases where several employees with key access have been let go, the issue can be even more pressing. The only thing you are really looking to do at this time is make sure that any spare key they could have made does not work in the lock. This could also be necessary if someone loses their keys, and they might have fallen into the wrong hands. But rekeying can also fix issues with worn internals to save money on a full replacement.
Not all storefront entry doors utilize commercial storefront door locks. Whether it is a result of the building owner or previous business that occupied your location, without changing locks, you might not have the type of storefront door lock you need. If you are looking for a commercial lockset, it is best to stay clear of the locks at Home Depot. Most of these locks will be for residential doors, and the misinformed opinions of the employees can be misleading. Purchasing can be handled online if you know the dimensions of the locks you could install. Your storefront locks are likely to be some form of mortise lock, but the considerations for these locks can get rather complicated.
You may not want a simple mortise lock. In terms of looking to achieve some level of convenience, you can invest in electronic locks or even magnetic locks. If you already have something like this installed, you may be looking to install a simpler system. With an existing mortise lock that you are happy with, you may be looking to simply upgrade your lock cylinder. This will be cheaper than getting an entirely new lock, and it can give you the ability to install an incredibly high-security device.
Just having a commercial storefront door lock will save you money. Storefront locks designed for commercial use are designed to withstand more turns and key rotations than residential locks. In the case of commercial mortise locks, servicing is made simpler by having large parts that can be replaced without having to do away with the whole lock. These large parts can also take more abuse as they have a thicker metal construction. You are saving money by being able to fix the lock rather than having to replace it, and also saving money by decreasing the number of times the lock will need to be serviced.
There are certain things that business owners can do to their storefront locks to extend the life of these devices. With routine maintenance handled with some regularity and proper servicing knowledge, you can make sure the storefront door lock is not being harmed unnecessarily. If the lock is sticking, the amount of force being used to open it can create stress that is decreasing the lifespan of the lock. By keeping the lock in good working order, it will only be subjected to the lowest amount of wear and tear.
One of the simplest methods of maintaining a lock is by using some lubricant in the keyway, latches, bolts, and even occasionally lubricating the bolt work. This helps reduce the friction as the polish on components begins to wear off. There is a lot of metal that needs to grind against other metal in order for a lock to function. The smoother these interactions are, the less that grinding is damaging the materials involved.
The issue of what type of lubrication is a bit of a complicated subject in the locksmithing and security communities. There is a rather heated debate about which form of lubricant is the best. Some claim that the use of the wrong lubrication can do more damage than good. It is a topic that truly demands an entire article all to its own, but the main products to consider are oil and dry spray lube. A commonly used oil lubricant is WD-40, which is commonly available and widely recognized. A good alternative to this lubricant is Tri-Flow. Dry lube, such as graphite can stain anything it touches, so use with caution.
Different than rekeying, you can also repin a lock. This method can be used to save money on replacing a lock if the reason for its decreased functionality (or even lack of functionality) is due to worn pins. When the pins wear down keys will stop working, as the key will no longer elevate the pins properly. This type of issue is rather difficult to diagnose without some trial and error, but if a lock is particularly old and many keys have worn out, this could be an issue you are experiencing.
Another way repining can save money is by turning a standard storefront door lock into a higher security lock. This will not take care of some the high-security needs, but it can be used to establish some drilling protection. With the use of stainless steel pins, the keyway can repel certain methods of destructive entry. But repinning is more commonly done to create a greater resistance to covert entry, including raking and single pin picking.
When a lock is repinned it is not necessarily rekeyed. It can work with all of the same keys, but the pins can be changed out with security pins. This is popular with locksport enthusiasts, who create challenge locks that test the skills of other lock pickers. These kinds of upgrades decrease the chance of novices opening your lock covertly. When a storefront door lock is repinned with security pins, it can really throw off burglars who are familiar with your type of lock. Because burglars develop general skills that they try to apply where they recognize a vulnerability, this will baffle most criminals. Even those with security knowledge may be confused simply because they thought they knew what to expect.
Knowing about the various available products, and the reputations of their manufacturers help you see through the false inducements and high prices that are meant to inspire confidence. Knowing the market helps to save money by knowing what is not worth investing in. Just because something is a trusted door lock brand does not mean that it is a good security product. Not everyone is aware that there are some notoriously low-quality security brands.
There are also some products that are advertised by certain news publications as secure when they have very widely recognized as having severe exploits. Reviews on online sites are not reliable to learn about security flaws. You need the insight of people who actively work on testing the protections these manufacturers and their products offer. A good reputation among the purchasers of these locks does not mean the products are worth the amount of money they are claiming to be worth.
Brand awareness will also allow you to choose between two similar products. Knowing the differences between two high-security storefront locks can help you to weigh the pros and cons of choosing one over the other. And if products are offered at discounted rates, the superior product may even be a bit cheaper. Knowing a good deal when you see it helps you capitalize on saving money with new storefront door lock purchases.
Depending on the layout of your store, it might not make sense to focus all of your security budget on your storefront entry doors. Layering security is a great way to potentially save money on your storefront door locks by using a variety of methods to achieve more than security. For example, something like a security camera can potentially discourage theft and vandalism, but also document issues and give you insight into the threats your business is facing. But there are certain things you need to know before buying a security camera.
Even if you have the best security camera possible, there are still more layers that you can add to protect your storefront. Monitored security systems can add a level of response to your security that other devices are incapable of. If there is an issue, private security companies or the police can be called automatically. Security gates can be used to protect the store at night, and these can be secured with more locks, providing yet another locked boundary between your store and the outside world.
Many people would not think that calling a locksmith would allow them to save money on their storefront locks, but there are actually several ways that a locksmith can help to reduce costs pertaining to a storefront door lock. The biggest way that they can assist with lowering the financial commitment you are making is by assuring that tasks are done correctly. Lock installation can be tricky, but more complex rekeying and repinning may necessitate the assistance of a professional.
It is always cheaper to have something done right, then to pay nothing to have it done wrong. In the case of a storefront door lock, doing something wrong runs the risk of compromising the full investment. The lock can jam or become irrevocably damaged if it is handled wrong. In cases of minor errors, storefront locks may not work reliably, which increases the risk of someone gaining unauthorized access to the building.
A locksmith will also have the insight needed to guide you through all of these options. The most important thing for you to do is choose the best locksmith. Once you know who the best locksmith is in theory, you should familiarize yourself with what it is like to call a locksmith. In the case of this type of assessment, it might be best to seek out a mobile locksmith. With a locksmith that can come to you, they can get a better sense of your location and the types of threats you may face.
The first step to saving money on with your storefront door lock is to know what you are most concerned about. From there, it is important to know what aspects of your storefront locks should be invested in to achieve the type of goals you have laid out. Once that is determined, you can begin to understand all of the ways to save your hard-earned cash without having to sacrifice the security you need.