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An Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Locks

Door Lock

At some point, you will want or need to change one or more of your locks. If you are moving into a new home or building, you will certainly want to do a lock change all the way around. As you contemplate changing a lock, it will soon occur to you that there is a decision to be made. What kind of locks or locks should you choose?

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Lock

When choosing a lock, you want to make the right choice based on your needs. To help guide you in the right direction, here are some of the key factors you should be considering as you make your decision:

  • The level of security you want or need
  • Reliability – minimal maintenance requirements
  • Aesthetics – the look of the lock (external locks particularly)
  • Type of access for locking and unlocking
  • Cost (affordability)

Using these factors, you should be able to narrow the available door lock types to the right lock option. The following section will address the types of door locks that you should consider for your home or business.

Types of Locks

After you have done your due diligence and looked at the factors that influenced your decision, you will most likely land on one of eight door lock types that are typically used in the Denver area. Here’s a look at the 8 best options on which you should be focusing.

Cam Locks

Cam Lock

It’s a good idea to start with a lock variation that is often used in business environments. Cam locks are typically used to secure filing cabinet and desk drawers as well as furniture compartments. They are considered light-duty locks that offer minimal security but are easy to use.

The word cam refers to the metal latch that fastens inside of what is being locked. The cam is attached to a cylinder-style locking mechanism that operates off of a key. It’s simple. Turning the key in one direction will unlock the locked area and turning the key back in the other direction will lock the locked area.

This option is very affordable but is often subject to breaking or malfunctioning. That’s why cam locks are not suitable for home or business door locking.

Knob Locks

Knob Lock

In all likelihood, you have been exposed to knob locks throughout your life. As the name insinuates, knob locks are locks that are installed in doorknobs. They are designed to serve as residential indoor locking mechanisms for bedrooms and bathrooms.

Knob locks can come in two versions. First, they might come without key access. The lock operates from inside only with no locking/unlocking access offered from outside of the room. The other version does permit key access with a locking button on the inside and key access on the outside.

Knob locks are very affordable. That’s because they don’t offer a high level of security, acting more as a deterrent to ensure privacy. Because they are easy to bypass, knob locks are not suitable for external doors.

Lever Handle Locks

Lever Handle Lock

Lever handle locks are considered a cousin to the knob lock. They operate in much the same manner but instead of being installed in a doorknob, they are included in a lever-opening system.

The entire system includes a lever that is pulled down to open the door. When locked from the inside, the lever will not move. Since the lock is part of the handle, the entire unit might have to be replaced if something breaks or malfunctions. That makes this option slightly more expensive than the knob lock option.

Note: This is a great choice for disabled persons who might have difficulty twisting a doorknob.

Deadbolt Locks

Deadbolt Lock

With the deadbolt lock, we are starting to address locks that offer a higher level of security. This type of lock is typically used in conjunction with other door locks to help secure external doors.

The lock casing and locking mechanism are connected to a square or round metal bolt of about 1-2 inches in length. When locking a deadbolt lock, the bolt enters against a strike plate that had been installed in the door frame. To bypass this type of lock, an intruder would likely have to damage the doorframe, which takes a lot of force.

With a deadbolt lock, the higher level of security it offers comes with a higher price tag. However, they are still reasonably affordable.

Electronic or Keypad Locks

Keypad Lock

As you probably anticipated, advanced technology has been creating better ways to keep homes and businesses secure. Electronic or keypad locks are evidence of that.

These types of locking systems can generally be integrated with any of the aforementioned lock options. Where things differ are electronic or keypad Locks work on keyless entry technology. To lock or unlock a door, you would need to enter a digital password, voice recognition, or perhaps a fingerprint.

Remember, electronic or keypad locks eliminate the need to carry keys. However, they are only as effective as the locking mechanisms to which they are attached. Short of smart locks, this is a more expensive security option.

Smart Locks

Smart lock

The best way to describe a smart lock is to take an electronic or keypad lock and integrate it with communications technology. In essence, smart locks allow for remote operation of the locks via an app/WiFi combination or Bluetooth technology.

This is a great lock option for people who have a lot of traffic in and out of their homes or businesses. Smart locks can be integrated with camera technology that allows the home or business owner to visually monitor their doors. Another advantage offered by smart locks is the ability to unlock doors remotely to allow for approved entry.

These types of locks are often used for short-term rental properties. As far as cost, smart locks can get a little pricey but require very little maintenance.

Mortise Locks

Mortise Lock

Sometimes, the best results come from a combination of options. Mortise locks combine the use of a lever handle locking system with that of a deadbolt locking system. The combination of these two options creates what is generally considered one of the most secure locks.

What makes mortise locks so secure is the fact the locking structure involves up to as many as five levels. At a minimum, level one will be the lever handle locking mechanism with a non-locking spring action latch. Level two will be the deadbolt that works as described above. Several levers can be added for more security.

As far as affordability, mortise would fall somewhere in the middle, and maintenance requirements are usually minimal.


At the low end of the lock spectrum would be the padlock. The padlock is not suitable for use as a door lock. Instead, they can be used to secure things like storage sheds, luggage, lockers, or toolboxes.

The methodology with a padlock is simple. There are two components, the lock, and the latch that is connected to whatever is being locked. The lock has a casing with two holes and a U-shaped shackle or rod that can be placed in the casing’s locking component. When disengaged, the lock can be completely removed. In most cases, padlocks are quite inexpensive.

Using this above information, it should now be easier to match your needs to the proper lock. If you need help making a choice or installing a lock, Denver Locksmiths is standing by to lend you a hand. We operate as a top full-service locksmith in Littleton and the Denver metro area.