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In 2017, there were an estimated 1.4 million burglaries across the nation. More than half of these burglaries occurred through forced-entry to the property.

Front door locks are one of a homeowner’s primary defenses against forced-entry burglaries. Two of the most common choices of front door locks are deadlocks and deadlatch locks. Many homeowners don’t fully understand what these two different lock types are.

What’re the most significant differences in these two options? What other types of locks are available? Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about deadbolts, deadlatch locks, and other types of front door locks.

Why Is It Important to Choose the Right Front Door Locks?

Many homeowners assume front door locks are basically all the same. They lock, they keep you safe, and that’s it. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as this.

Some locks are more secure than others. Some locks are easy for potential intruders to pick or break into. Making the right choices will help keep your family and property safe.

What’s a Deadbolt?

A deadbolt is one of the most common forms of front door locks. These are generally installed for extra security when there is only a key and knob set into the door.

This type of lock has no spring-loaded mechanism. Instead, a solid bar clicks in and out of place. Once slid into place, it’s challenging to pry open.

Deadbolts must be physically locked with a key when leaving the house. They’ll remain in the unlocked position when you’re inside the home. Some homeowners choose to lock their deadbolts when they’re inside, but this isn’t generally recommended.

What’s a Deadlatch?

A deadlatch has a single-point spring-loaded feature. The spring works through the retraction of the guard bolt and latch bolt. It’s difficult to break into because it springs right back into place.

When you leave your home, a deadlatch will automatically lock behind you. Once the locking mechanism is activated, it can’t be opened from the outside without a key. The inside can still be opened by turning it.

Modern deadlatch front door locks are fitted with an anti-deadlock device. This device allows the door to automatically unlock from the inside, as mentioned above.

Older deadlatch locks didn’t have this feature. Instead, they’d automatically lock from the inside, too. The only way to open them from either side of the door was with a key.

Deadbolt vs. Deadlatch: What’s the Difference?

The primary difference between these two front door locks is the locking mechanism. A deadbolt will have a straight bar that locks the front door. A deadlatch will have a single-point spring-loaded locking feature.

The exact differences between these locks will depend on which types are being compared. Below we’ll look at the different options you have when choosing either of these front door locks.

Types of Deadbolts

There are five primary types of deadbolts you could choose from. The one thing they have in common is that they use a solid bar to secure the door.

Where the lock is located is one of the primary differences in the varying types. There are a few other differences in specific models. The five deadbolt types are discussed individually below.

Single Cylinder Deadbolt

A single cylinder deadbolt has a keyed entry on one side of the door. The other side of the door will have a thumb-style turn lever. Single-cylinder models can be locked or unlocked from either side, with the exterior needing a key to do so.

These are the most commonly used deadbolt because they’re convenient. It’s easy to exit the house quickly, such as in the event of a fire. Unfortunately, they’re also easier for burglars to break into.

Double Cylinder Deadbolt

A double cylinder deadbolt has keyed entries on both sides of the door. It requires a key to lock or unlock both sides of the door.

Double cylinder deadbolts offer more security than single cylinders. The downside is it’s harder to exit the home quickly if there is a fire or other emergency. 

Key-Less Electronic Deadbolt

Key-less electronic deadbolts don’t use keys. Instead, you use a unique passcode programmed into the deadbolt to open the door on the outside. The inside typically has a thumb-style turn lever, but this might vary with specific models.

Some key-less electronic deadbolts can be programmed into your home security system. If a potential intruder were to try bypassing the passcode, the alarm would go off. In some circumstances, these deadbolts may have both key-less and keyed options for entering.

Vertical Deadbolt

A vertical deadbolt is attached inside your door. Instead of going sideways like most other front door locks, it works up and down. It will automatically lock whenever the door is closed.

These deadbolts are a bulkier model of lock. The vertical locking mechanism is a homeowner’s most secure choice. It’s significantly harder to force these locks open from the outside.

Rim Deadbolt

A rim deadbolt is secured to the rim of the door, as the name implies. They will lock automatically when the door is closed.

The issue with rim deadbolts is they’re easy to get through. A skilled home burglar can easily pick one of these locks. They can also drill into the doorway and loosen a rim deadbolt enough that it doesn’t work correctly.

Types of Deadlatch Locks

There are two primary types of deadlatch front door locks you could choose from. Both are equipped with single-point spring-loaded locking mechanisms. The difference between the two is where they’re mounted on the door.

Bored Deadlatch Locks

A bored deadlatch will have round openings located on the door. These are operated by a thumb turn and key on the inside. The outside may be blank (with no lock or key) or have a keyed entry.

Mortise Deadlatch Locks

These are installed at the edges of the door. The lock has rectangle-shaped slots. Mortise deadlatch locks can use a single or double cylinder, with keyed entries on one or both sides.

How to Choose the Right Front Door Locks

Different front door locks may work for unique people or situations. It’s up to the individual homeowner to figure out which lock they’ll use. It’s possible to use a combination of deadbolt and deadlatch locks for the most security.

Important Considerations

You’ll want to ask yourself whether accessing the front door quickly from the inside is essential to you. Some people may not like the idea of needing a key to open from the inside in an emergency. Others will think this is a fair trade-off for the extra security it offers.

If you do choose to use a double cylinder deadbolt, it’s essential to keep a key somewhere nearby. You can hang the key on a nail or hook near the door. You can also place it under your front door mat on the inside.

The downsides to other front door locks may not be a big issue in certain circumstances. If your door is free of glass inserts and isn’t near a window burglars can reach through, a single-cylinder lock might work fine.

Generally, you’ll want to use at least two types of door locks on any door that accesses the exterior of your home. These don’t necessarily have to be deadbolts or deadlatch locks. One lock should be one of these two choices because they offer the most security when you leave home.

Ask a Professional

The best way to figure out which front door locks are right for your home is to get professional advice. A professional locksmith company can offer you expert advice in-person or over the phone.

Locksmiths don’t just pick locks. They’re security experts who can identify any weak spots in your home’s defenses.

Once you’ve chosen front door locks, you should schedule an appointment for professional installation. It’s tempting to take the do-it-yourself route, but that isn’t the best option. Learn why you need professional installation below.

The Importance of Professional Installation

Many homeowners believe they can install their front door locks themselves. The problem is that the most secure types of locks are complex and challenging to install. Improper installation will render them useless.

A locksmith has the skills and tools to install these locks the correct way. Knowing your family is safe from potential intruders will offer you peace of mind. If you install the lock yourself, there is no guarantee it will perform as well as it’s supposed to.

Other Door Lock Options You Can Use

Deadbolts and deadlatch front door locks aren’t your only option. There are other types of door locks you may choose to use on your home’s exterior access points. It’s recommended you select a combination of at least two different lock types.

Having at least two different types of locks will make it more difficult for burglars to enter your home. With each lock requiring different picking methods, burglars will take longer to breach your home’s security. Sometimes, the difficulty alone is enough to deter someone.


Padlocks aren’t generally seen on front doors. They bear mentioning because many choose to use them on external basement doors. Some people also use them when leaving for extended periods, such as a vacation.

A padlock is one of the few lock types that aren’t permanent. A curved bar slides into place in a locking mechanism. You may need either a combination code or a key to reopen it.

Knob Locks/Handle Sets

Handle sets are the most common type of front door lock. You almost definitely have one already installed on your front door right now.

Knob locks, also known as handle sets, are your basic handles with keyed entries on both sides. Some doors will come with these already installed in them. Other doors come with holes already bored for knob locks to be fitted into.

Barrel Bolts

This type of front door lock is also known as a “sliding lock.” Barrel bolts are two-part locks where one piece attaches to the front door and the other to the door frame. A cylindrical metal piece slides into place to keep the door secure.

These locks offer extra safety for when you’re at home with your family. They aren’t helpful if you’re out of the house.

Many homeowners choose to install two barrel bolts on their front and back doors. Typically, this would be one at the top and one at the bottom. Locks at the very top of the door are also helpful for keeping young children from opening exterior doors.

Chain Locks

Chain locks function off the same idea as barrel bolts. There is a piece that attaches to the door and one that attaches to the frame. The difference is that a chain is used in place of a cylindrical metal bolt.

The idea behind the chain is that it allows you to open your door without unlocking it. The chain typically provides enough space to peek through the crack. There is extra protection if someone tries to push open the door when you don’t want them to.

Do You Still Have Questions About Front Door Locks?

There are many different types of front door locks you could choose. Deadbolts and deadlatch locks are among the most popular methods of extra security. It’s recommended you use at least two different types of front door locks.

Do you still have questions about front door locks? Or, would you like to schedule an appointment to find out which front door lock would best fit your home’s needs?

Contact us today. One of our associates would be happy to assist you with your questions or in making an appointment.