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Selecting door and window locks

All locks are definitely not alike. While many may look similar in design and even construction, there are decided differences between inexpensive, flimsy locks and quality, secure locks that offer value as well as extra security.

Whether you're looking for a door lock or a window lock, it's good to educate yourself first as to the different lock styles, so you can decide which one will work best for you.

Spring Latch Locks
Also known as slip bolt locks, spring latch locks operate simply and, to a certain extent, effectively. Spring latches cause the doorknob to lock; this in turn prevents the internal spring-loaded latch from turning and releasing the door so it can open.

Spring latches have been used by generations of homeowners and they do have some benefits:

  • They're the least expensive kind of secure door lock on the market
  • They're extremely easy to install
  • They can be additionally reinforced by a steel plate around the doorknob

Likewise, there are also many disadvantages to using the spring latch style lock:

  • A skilled burglar can dislodge the latch from the door frame simply by using a credit card
  • The doorknob latch can be sprung by instruments other than your house key
  • Even with a protective plate, an intruder can dislodge a spring latch lock by smashing the door frame and door knob with a wrench, hammer or other type of heavy instrument

Deadbolt Locks
Many of today's homeowners choose to install a deadbolt lock in their doors. A deadbolt lock operates by using a bolt that slides into the door jamb; this bolt is released by turning a key in an attached cylinder that goes outside the door. The other component of the deadbolt lock is the lever, which allows the homeowner to turn the bolt manually from inside the house.

For many homeowners, a deadbolt lock has definite advantages:

  • Because of the bolt fitting firmly into the door jamb, it's considerably more secure than a spring latch lock
  • You can control the bolt from the inside of your home without having to use a key

There are, however, some things to consider about deadbolts:

  • All quality deadbolt locks need to be made of brass, bronze or solid steel; any other material isn't strong enough
  • An intruder can still pull the door jamb apart from the door. This is why many locksmiths recommend using a vertical, surface-mounted deadbolt that interlocks with a set of solid metal rings attached to the door frame.

Choosing a window lock can be a bit more complicated than choosing the right door lock because specific types of locks work better with certain styles of windows. There are several types of window locks for homeowners to consider:

Sash Locks
These locks operate with a steel bolt installed through the outer and inner frames; a key is required to operate the lock.

Sliding Locks
These are locks that mount into the window track; they stop the window from sliding up or down any further.

Window Latch
This system operates through a locking latch that attaches to an adjacent window. When the latch handle is turned, both windows lock.

Additionally, it's also a good idea to consider installing steel reinforcement plates around door knobs and deadbolts whenever possible. To further secure their locks, some homeowners also consider reinforcement accessories such as stainless steel bolts. If a lock can be further stabilized and secured in any way, it's always a good idea to add this additional reinforcement.

In the end, no matter which type of lock you choose, it's best to get the absolute best protection you can afford, even if it means spending a bit more. Spending that extra few dollars now can save you thousands of dollars later.

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