A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
When it comes to the security of interior doors, a lot is riding on your inside door locks. But they might not matter as much as you think. Let’s take a look at the factors that are in play when it comes to securing interior doors and choosing the right inside door locks. This information is especially important to know before replacing interior door knobs.
We will go over some frequently asked questions to start with, but in this article, we hope to give you a better general understanding of what you should be concerned with when it comes to interior doors and inside door locks. Keep an open mind, as security may not be the most important issue (and that is coming from a locksmith).
Here is an overview of what you need to know to choose inside door locks for interior doors:
Most interior doors are not intended to provide security. Interior doors are most often hollow core doors, which means they are very flimsy and will likely break open regardless of the lock you put on them. But interior doors do offer benefits for fire safety and have uses outside of security.
The majority of people choose inside door locks. They are often more concerned with aesthetics (color, finish, style, etc.) rather than security. There is no need to replace a door knob with a deadbolt if you do not have a solid core door, so focus on a look that fits your home. Push-button privacy door knobs and handles are going to be the best choice in most cases.
For the most convenience, you want to use push-button inside door locks. These allow for doors to be locked easily and opened with the turn of the handle or knob. They only have the locking mechanism on one of the interior sides of the door, so you accidentally lock yourself out of the room. But while offering very little security, it is easier to unlock a door without a keyhole when you are locked out.
These types of locks work when you are already in a room. If you are worried about intruders while you are sleeping or when the room is otherwise occupied, the interior door should use a solid core. Just be aware that there are covert bypasses for these locks that leave no signs of forced entry.
Most locksmiths are going to recommend using an inside door lock brand like Schlage or Baldwin. Although Baldwin incorporates a lot of Kwikset lock cylinder hardware, they often have nicer finishes and more elegant styling options. Schlage might be a bit hit or miss when it comes to the ANSI grades for locks, but they use better materials than most other big-name brands.
If there are any keyed locks in your home that you do not have a key to, change or rekey the lock. For non-keyed interior door locks, the only reason to change them is if you do not like their design or want a lock with different access protocols (keyed, unkeyed, thumb turn, push-button, etc.). In cases where the cost to fix door knobs is more than replacement, a lock change might make more sense.
It is good to have interior doors for the sake of privacy, and safety, and for controlling airflow in a building with central air conditioning. They are almost never installed with any intention of providing security. The lack of security comes down to the construction and materials used to make almost every interior door.
You cannot make a hollow interior door secure. All the things you can do for front door security will be undermined by the fact that a hollow-core interior door cannot hold up to any amount of criminally induced stress. If someone were to kick or bludgeon the door, a hole is liable to be punctured in it.
Getting an interior room to be more secure does not require you to go through the trouble of building an improvised panic room, but it does require a stronger interior door. Your door should be the same type of solid core door a contractor legally must install as a front door, at the very least. More secure doors have metal cores (steel, iron, etc.).
In nearly every case, thinking about your indoor door locks as security devices is misguided. The lock hardware you find on most interior doors is only intended to keep out someone who might mistakenly wander into a room while it is occupied by someone desiring privacy.
Mechanically, a door knob, handle, or lever needs to use a spring-loaded latch, so turning the handle will retract the latch and allow the door to open. It is this feature that makes the lock inherently insecure. A latch like this can be depressed by sliding a credit card between the door and the jam if it were locked.
Outside of commonly installed locks, if you are using a chain door guard, swing bar, or sliding inside door lock. Just be aware that these locks can also be defeated with very simple bypasses that criminals will know. Security comes from you being in the room when these locks are engaged so you can respond to the threat.
It is only when you are using a keyed inside door lock that you will be able to lock your door, leave the room empty, and regain entry. But the security of these locks matters about as much as how much force a deadbolt can withstand because of what we have already discussed about interior doors.
Security – If you have roommates, or would like an additional level of security, you can use an inside door lock with a keyed cylinder. As long as the lock is used consistently, it will prevent any passive thievery and reduce crimes of opportunity.
Safety – Make sure you have easy egress so you can get out of your bedroom during an emergency. That means addressing the issue when a door knob won’t turn and not installing double-sided deadbolts that require a key to leave. And always install inside locks so they can be opened from inside the room via their thumb turn or button.
Usability – Make sure that everything is installed properly, so you do not get locked out of your room as a result of a latch catching on a misaligned strike plate. And be aware that handles that turn from the inside when locked. This often confuses residents into thinking their door is unlocked when it isn’t (leading to unintentional lockouts).
Security – There is no need for a bathroom door lock to provide security. So understand that the door lock prices, in this case, are not a tradeoff between cost and security. More likely, you are paying for a particular finish, material, or hardiness of the hardware (so it will last longer).
Safety – During an emergency, it is important to know how to get inside when you are locked out of your bathroom. The number one location for household accidents is the bathroom, so if someone falls or gets hurt, you need to have the key or bypass key readily available.
Usability – Other than using the right type of bathroom door locks, it is most important that these inside door locks catch and secure properly. You do not want your interior door blowing up unexpectedly or the lock not engaging so someone can accidentally enter.
It makes sense that interior door locks would not provide security, based on the interior doors that most homes use. But insecure doors are also understandable because if someone has access to your home (ie. they are already inside), then they are either not a threat or have enough time, access, and concealment to overwhelm additional security inside the home.
The chief concern for most interior doors should be whether they are going to cause a house lockout. And if they are not working, do you need new locks or lock repair? Other than that, make sure that everything is properly installed. So locks do not wear out quickly or stop working.