Types of Door Locks

Get a handle on all types of door locks to find the best one to secure your home

Exterior Door Locks

Today’s door locks feature advances in technology, aesthetics and functionality superior to locks made just a few years ago. Not only do today’s locks look beautiful, but they also deliver improved security for your home.

To ensure your door locks provide solid home security, choose locks that are pick-resistant and bump proof. Good locks use mushroom pins or pick shields to prohibit thieves from using picking tools to manipulate a lock’s internal mechanisms and gaining entry into your home.

This guide will teach you about the different types of door locks so you can ensure you select the best door lock to keep your home safe and secure.

Types of Door Locks


  • Feature a deadbolt and thumbturn
  • Come in full-plate and two-piece options
  • Designed for exterior front entry doors

Door knobs

  • Most common type of door locks
  • Affordable, secure, simple to install
  • Available in many different styles — from round to egg-shaped — and various finishes

Door levers

  • Easy to use
  • Requires less force to rotate, even if your hands are full
  • Many are ADA compliant


  • Popular maximum security option
  • Employ a deadlatch for security
  • Available with single- and double-cylinder functions
  • Most external doors are pre-drilled for deadbolts, making installation easy

Electronic locks

  • Greater control over access
  • Access can be granted without making key copies
  • Simple installation

Sliding Door Locks

Features and Installation Tips

When picking your exterior door locks, consider the lock’s grade and ease of installation.

Lock Grades and Ratings

Most lock manufactures have their products tested by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) for grading on how their locks perform. They test based on operation, strength, cycle, security, material evaluation and finish.

Lock grade is the number of lock/unlock cycles you can expect your lock to complete before wearing out. It’s a reflection of the durability of the lock, not the amount of security it provides.

Locks that are Grade 1 offer the highest level of strength and security.

•  Grade 1: 800,000 cycles
•  Grade 2: 400,000 cycles
•  Grade 3: 200,000 cycles

Measuring Your Door

Before purchasing a lock, you must measure your door’s backset, cross bore and thickness to ensure you find the right fit.

Tip: Exterior doors are typically 1 ¾ inches thick, while interior doors measure 1 3/8 inches thick.

  • Backset: The distance between the edge of the door and the center of the lock hole. Usually, the backset measures 2 3/8 inches or 2 ¾ inches. 
  • Cross (or edge) bore: The small hole along the edge of the door frame, usually measuring about 1 inch in diameter.

Door Handing

The "handing" of a door describes which way the door swings on its hinges, and thus whether you’d need a right- or left-handing handle or lock. The simplest way to determine the handing of your door is to stand in front of it and push it open. If the door swings in to you, walk to the other side of the door so you are on the exterior and can push it open to perform this test.

Door Swing Graphic

  • If the door hinges are on the left and it swings open to the left, you will need a left-handed handle for the exterior side and a right-handed handle of the interior side.
  • If the door hinges are on the right and it swings open to the right, you will need a right-handed handle on the exterior side and a left-handed handle on the interior side.
  • If you have a difficult time recalling the proper handing of your door, simply opt for a door lock labeled reversible handing, which means the lock can be installed on either side of the door.


Many people like the convenience of using the same key for all of their exterior doors. When purchasing a lock, you can ask the store associate to key all your locks to be alike or you can purchase a door lock that offers a self-rekeying feature, known as SmartKey. The SmartKey self-rekeying feature is only available on SmartKey locks, not all door locks.

Smart Locks

If you cannot fit another key on your key ring, or prefer controlling your home’s security from your smart phone, you may prefer a smart door lock. Consult our Smart Door Lock guide for more information to help you choose a smart door lock.