8 Types of Deadbolt Locks and Where To Use Them

One of the best door lock types for your entry door is a deadbolt lock. However, there are quite a few types of deadbolts on the market so how do you know which is the best for you? In this article, we will be answering that question for you.

We’ll first tell you exactly what a deadbolt door lock is and how it works and then dive right into the different ones available.

What is a Deadbolt Lock?

A deadbolt is a door lock that is opened with a key. They are more secure than a normal spring-loaded lock because spring latches can be pushed back while a deadbolt doesn’t operate with springs but with lock bolts that can only be moved using a key or with the turn of a knob – they are otherwise immovable – they are… dead!

A deadbolt door lock is made up of 4 different parts:

Thumbturn – this part of the lock is on the interior of the door and, is used to lock and unlock your door.

Deadbolt – this part secures your door when shut.

Turnpiece – This extends from the outer key cylinder, through the door, to the inside of the door. The thumb turn is connected to this piece so that the lock can be operated.

Keyhole – This is the hole into which you insert your key to operate the lock.

There are four main categories of deadbolts:

Single cylinder deadbolt

These are the most simple of the deadbolts and can be opened on one side of the door using a key.

Double cylinder deadbolt

These locks can be opened with a key on both the interior and exterior sides of the door.

Vertical deadbolt locks

These locks work in a similar way to the other types but with this type of deadbolt, the lock moves down and up and not sideways. This vertical movement makes these locks harder to break into by either force or by prying open.

Combination deadbolt

These are also referred to as lockable thumb turns. Combination locks are, as the name suggests, a combination of a single and a double cylinder lock and can therefore function as both types.

8 Types of Deadbolts

Let’s now take a closer look at the seven types of deadbolt locks that are available for purchase and discuss where you can use them to gain the best security from them.

1 – Single-Cylinder

The simplest of the deadbolts, it uses a thumb turn on the interior of the door to lock and unlock the door and a key on the outside.

They are often used on front doors of houses together with a doorknob latch lock.

Pro – These locks are great if you want easy access from one side and restricted access from the other.

Con – They need to be installed a minimum of 40-inches away from any glass so that someone can’t break the glass, reach in, turn the thumb turn and open the door.

2 – Double-Cylinder

With this type of deadbolt, a key is needed on both the interior and exterior sides of the door.

These locks provide an extra layer of security to a front door.

Pro – No one can break glass, reach in, and open the door with this type of deadbolt

Con – It is harder to quickly exit a house with this type of lock i.e. in the case of an emergency. Make sure that a key is kept in a place where each family member can access it easily in case they need to leave the house in a hurry.

3 – Electronic Deadbolt

Offering the same level of security as mechanical locks, electronic locks come with a keypad or touchscreen which allows you to enter a passcode to unlock the door. They are also called “non-connected locks” i.e. they are not connected to WiFi or smart home tech.

Pro – You don’t need to worry about forgetting or losing your keys!

Con – They are more expensive than manually operated deadbolts.

4 – Smart Deadbolt

While an electronic deadbolt is “non-connected” a smart deadbolt is “connected”.

You can connect a smart deadbolt directly to your WiFi or to other smart technology. You can therefore use your smartphone to program the lock and access your home from anywhere. Some of the smart locks come with the added features of automatic locking and tamper alerts.

There are a few things to check when buying a smart lock. Some of the smart locks might not be compatible with the hardware that is currently installed on your door. Check that your current deadbolt is compatible with the smart lock before you purchase it.

If multiple people will need access to your home make sure the lock offers you the ability to enter enough passcodes so that each person gets their own code.

Pro – Added security and you can lock and unlock your door remotely.

Con – These locks are fairly expensive so before you purchase one, make sure you actually need all the features they offer.

5 – Rim Deadbolt

Rim locks are installed on the surface of the door, near the doorknob. A cylinder runs through the door and a key is used to operate the lock on the exterior. A thumb turn is used on the interior. To install a rim lock you only need to drill one hole and possibly cut out one mortise, unlike a tubular deadbolt that needs two holes and two mortises.

If you have a door into which you are unable to install a traditional deadbolt, then a rim lock is a great way to add security to that door.

Pro – These locks are very easy to install.

Con – They are not as strong as other deadbolts due to the fact that they are mounted to the door. They can be overcome if enough force is applied to the door.

6 – Vertical Deadbolt

A vertical deadbolt lock is installed on the top part of the doorframe and not the side. This makes them very secure against intruders because they make it much harder to pry open the door.

Pro – Very strong and reliable, they provide good security.

Con – They are larger than other locks so you might not find them aesthetically appealing.

7 – Mortise Locks

This type of deadbolt is made up of a metal body containing a deadbolt and a latch lock. This double whammy makes them very tough to break through. To install a mortise deadbolt lock you will need to cut out a mortise (a rectangular groove) on the door, making it even more difficult to tamper with.

Pro – A mortise lock is very hard to break into and they provide excellent security.

Con – They are pricier than a normal cylinder lock.

8 – Lockable Thumbturn

This deadbolt is a combination of a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt lock. A thumb turn is installed in the interior of the door. This lock gives you the option to operate it with a key or by simply using the thumb turn.

Pro – Flexible is its usage you can simply operate it with the thumb turn if you wish.

Con – The thumb turn can be opened from the outside of the door so they are not quite as secure as other deadbolts.

What is The Best Deadbolt For You?

If you are simply looking to add a bit more security to your entrance doors, then a normal single-cylinder deadbolt lock will be a good choice.

If you are unable to install a deadbolt onto your particular door, then a rim deadbolt would be the best option.

If you are looking for convenience and you are often forgetting your keys, then a smart or an electronic deadbolt lock would be something to consider.

For the highest level of security, the best, but most expensive option, is the mortise deadbolt.


Remember that installation is critical. Any lock that is incorrectly installed can easily be tampered with and manipulated. Make sure that the lock you pick is right for your door type and that you are fully versed in the installation procedure if you plan to do it yourself.

Other things to check for are if the lock you wish to purchase has anti-drill features, a case of hardened steel, long strike plates, and is ANSI Grade 1 certified.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a deadbolt and a deadlock?

Deadlock – a type of lock where a key is needed to operate the lock. It uses a bolt to secure the door.

Deadlatch – also called a spring bolt, this lock also uses a bolt to secure the door but the bolt is spring-loaded and will automatically lock in place when the door is closed. To retract the bolt a lever or know must be turned. They are not as secure as deadbolts and can easily be tampered with.

Can a deadbolt lock be broken through?

While no lock is 100% intruder safe, a deadbolt lock is not easy to break through and they remain one of the best ways to secure a home.

Can I use a magnet to unlock my deadbolt?

No, a magnet cannot be used to completely unlock a deadbolt lock.

Can someone use a crowbar to pry open a deadbolt?

It is nearly impossible for a burglar to break through a deadbolt lock using a crowbar.

How do you know if your deadbolt has been manipulated?

Look for evidence around the lock such as dents, scuffs, scratches, etc. Most deadbolts are fairly jimmy-proof, however.

Can a burglar kick open a door that has a deadbolt lock?

In general, a deadbolt is a sturdy lock and can withstand quite a lot of force. If the door itself is not solid, then a burglar might be able to kick through.

What is a strike plate?

This is a flat metal plate that is attached to the doorframe. The bolt of the lock slides into the plate and thus secures the door to the frame.

What is making it hard to turn my deadbolt?

Make sure that there is no dirt build-up in the lock. Dust can find its way in and cause problems over time. The locking mechanism can get clogged up and you will find it hard to turn. Use some lubricant spray to clean the lock and get it turning easily again.

Can a deadbolt lock withstand force?

A deadbolt lock can generally withstand 100 to 200 pounds of force. A grade 1 deadbolt can withstand a minimum of ten, 75 pound kicks i.e. a very strong burglar would have to kick the door more than a hundred times before it even begins to show any weakness.

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