5 Things Homeowners Need to Know Before Choosing a Deadbolt
There are many claims that security companies make about their deadbolts. Some are true, and others are obscured by the omission of important facts. There are also some prevailing myths about deadbolts, which you may believe as a result of pop culture. Don’t get caught up in the lies and misinformation. Here are the things you need to know before purchasing your deadbolt.
1. How the Grading System Works
In the world of locks and security, a #1 ranking is the best that you can hope for. All of the testing conducted for lock security grading is handled by third-party testing companies. That is not to say that the lock companies themselves are not also testing their products, it is just that they are not deciding what their grade is. The tests are standardized so that customers can know that every lock with a specific grading has met the same basic criteria during testing.
With that being said, not all locks are created equal. There are many things that these third party security testing labs do not account for. These include specific issues with the lock, such as unique bypasses only present in that model, and will not inform you if a lock goes far beyond the minimum requirement for a grade 1. This type of information would need to be provided to you by a Salem locksmith that deals with your specific type of building, whether that is commercial or residential.
2. Thumbturn vs. Double Sided
There are two common types of deadbolts that you can have installed onto your doors. The one that most people decide to go with is a Deadbolt with an interior thumbturn. This assembly comes with one keyed cylinder, which is placed on the side of the door that would deny entry to unauthorized users. On the other side of the door, a thumbturn would be installed so that anyone already in the secured room can relock the door or unlock it to get out without a key.
In cases where there is glass on or around the door, it may be too easy for a criminal to break the pane and actuate the thumbturn. That is why you may need a double sided deadbolt. A user must use the correct key on both sides of the door in order to both lock and unlock the deadbolt. Be aware that any door that has a double sided deadbolt should be treated as a wall during emergency planning. These types of doors are too difficult to open quickly, so the present a tremendous obstacle in the event of an emergency.
3. Why a Deadbolt Matters
The most important place that you need a deadbolt is on your front door. This provides the home with an additional level of security against surreptitious and brute force attacks. If you have ever seen the credit card trick in a movie where a spy, criminal, etc., opens a door by simply placing the plastic card between the door and the door jam, this is what a deadbolt prevents. Where the keyed knob on your door has a spring latch that can be depressed without doing anything to the lock itself, a deadbolt uses a bolt, which is only extended or retracted by using a key or a thumbturn.
4. How to Improve the Deadbolt
Just by having the deadbolt and using it, you will have already improved your security, but there are still several improvements you can make to the deadbolt assembly. The easiest addition is to lengthen the screws in the strike plate. When a door is kicked in, it is often the strike of the lock that breaks and takes off a part of the door jam. With 3 inch screws, the strike can reach the stud, and will become incredibly strong.
Other additions include purchasing products that add metal content around the lock hardware. Because a sizable hole must be bored out of the door, the area around where you lock is installed is made weaker. There are metal sleeves, varying in strength, which will slip around the lock and cradle this weak point. Other improvements require professional assistance or in-depth knowledge of lock mechanics. You can inquire to your locksmith about security pins and anti-drill pins.
5. It is Not Harder to Pick
Many people are under the impression that deadbolts are more difficult to pick than a standard keyed knob. This myth stems from the fact that there are additional security benefits of using a deadbolt (listed above), but none of that has to do with picking. Two locks with the same exact core and no obstruction to the keyway will pick virtually the same. Depending on the key for each lock, a keyed knob may be harder to pick than a deadbolt. There is nothing about a device being a deadbolt that makes it harder to pick. That being said, most criminals do not pick locks, because it takes time and skill to master. So don’t worry too much.
Be aware that the grading of a lock may be misleading. Understand your security needs, and make the proper choice between a thumbturn and a double sided deadbolt. Be sure that you install your deadbolt properly, and use it whenever possible. Make improvements to the device, and if lock picking is a concern for you, more action will need to be taken than simply purchasing any old deadbolt. Make the right decisions, and stay abreast of the facts. Only then will you truly be safe.
Ralph Goodman is a professional writer and the resident expert on locks and security over at
the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They
offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.