The first step in protecting any home is the lock on your front door. We all want the best door locks, but with so many options, and everyone claiming to be “pick proof” and “ultra secure” how are we supposed to know what lock really is the best lock?
That’s where we come in. We’ve dug through the piles of data, analyzed the available locks, and came out with the answers to those questions, and more.
First we tackle the best overall. The sole focus for this comparison is security. What is the best lock that we can put on a door, all other things being equal, that will keep that door secure the longest.
After that we take price into consideration. We compare the locks based on a ratio of security to cost, with the best bubbling to the top as our best budget door lock. This lock will be good enough for most situations, and shouldn’t break the bank.
Because these comparisons introduce a bit of subjectiveness, we’ve also listed the runner up for that particular comparison.
And finally, we put a cap on the budget, and track down the best door lock under $100.
And because we know there are a few of you out there that just want the facts, we’ve listed them all right here. If you want to hear more details about these locks, or if you’re interested in the best door locks for your Airbnb, or to help protect your autistic child, keep reading. We have those, too.
Best door locks overall
As we mentioned above, the number one factor when deciding the best door locks over all was security. If a lock isn’t secure, then it can’t ever be considered the best. But when you compare things, there are a lot of other smaller factors that come into play. Price. Beauty. Ease of use. Once we had all the factors laid out like that, there was only a single lock that bubbled to the top. That is the Medeco Maxum.
The Medeco Maxum can withstand severe physical attacks, it is drill and pick resistant, and it just looks absolutely like a tank.
Best door locks on a budget
When figuring out a good budget door lock, we have to take into consideration price. When pricing on a budget, we’re assuming a relatively low cap to what we are capable of spending. But we’re also assuming that we aren’t going to be protecting anything that will cost that much to replace.
A good lock is a deterrent. If you can be strong, and stop a burglar from breaking in for the first couple of attempts, they are likely to move on to easier targets. That’s the goal of our pick for the best budget lock. And that is what you will get with the Kwikset Halifax Slim.
With this Kwikset lock, you’re not only getting a high relative strength to budget value, but you’re also picking up style. This lock sits inside a square frame, setting you apart from your neighbors, and giving you just a hint of flare. The Kwikset KW1 keyway means picking up spare keys will be super simple at any local key cutting place, and with the SmartKey technology you can re-key your door without ever opening the handle.
Best door locks runner up
The runner up for best budget lock is the Shlage B60N, which is more expensive, but does have a more traditional look. A more traditional look might be what you’re wanting out of a lock. In fact, it’s not always a good thing to stand out from your neighbors, especially where security is concerned. But, because the Schlage and the Kwikset have similar resistances, we decided to go with the Kwikset as our top due to the lower price. But you know how companies are, prices vary, and you might find this bad boy drop to the lowest price sometimes.
Best door locks under $100
This is always my favorite category to research. You’re constrained by a maximum price range, and trying to find the best deal that you can get within that range. The budget locks are a lot like that, but the range there is a little fluid. Here, we wanted to know what the best lock under $100 was. We answered our own question with the Yale YH Collection.
The Yale YH Collection are solid locks, from a trusted brand, that can withstand a beating. They aren’t priced as high security locks, but they are the highest of the regular security locks that you can get within our budget of $100.
This lock fits into any normal deadbolt hole in a prefabricated door. Which means these are easily installed by a regular handy-man or handy-woman. They can be re-keyed, and master keyed as well, to make your life easier as a landlord.
Best door locks for an Airbnb
When finding the best door lock for an Airbnb, we looked less at price, and more at ease of use. We assume that if you’re investing in a lock for your Airbnb, you’re willing to spend the money as an investment in your business.
A few of the key things that we looked at were that the lock should have both a pin code, as well as an emergency keyed entry. The lock should be sturdy, and not easily damaged. It should be simple to use by guests, so it isn’t used as a negative in any reviews.
For this, we suggest the Samsung SHS-P718-LMK — specifically the LMK, not the LBK. The LMK is for residential properties, with thinner doors.
The LMK requires some modifications to the door, as it won’t fit into the standard lock holes of your traditional prefabricated doors, but that one con is offset by the many ways you can access the lock. Biometrics. Pin code. RFID. Emergency physical keys. It has it all.
Our only suggestion is make sure you add “check the lock batteries” to your clean up list, and you’re good to go!
Best door locks for an Autistic Child
When it comes to protecting your autistic child, we’re usually less concerned with keeping people out than we are with keeping our child in. For that purpose, any of the above locks will work to protect your child from people coming in, but none of them will really hold up well when it comes to keeping your child from leaving.
For this purpose, you could get by with a basic slide lock. You’d want a sliding bolt, not a chain, however. A chain would create a gap and allow your precious child to possibly slide through the gap. A bolt will hold the door firm, even if they managed to turn the knob. The major drawback to a sliding bolt lock is the fact that the door can only be locked from the inside. That’s fine for exterior doors, but what if you want to secure your child safely for nap time? It is not only demeaning, but illegal, to put a bolt lock on the outside of an interior door.
Thankfully, however, there is a type of lock that solves that issue. It’s called the GlideLok, and it works by adding a simple post to your door frame. You then slide the lock into place from either side of the door, and the door is secured until you move it again. These are great for any children, really, but we’re focused on your curious boy or girl right now.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some common questions that we’ve either been asked, or we’ve seen people asking, about locks and door security.
Does keeping a key in the door lock make it any harder for burglars to pick it?
No. It doesn’t.
Let me explain why. These double keyed deadbolts aren’t connected by a single long keyway. Consider how a lock works. As the key is pushed into the lock, it raises pins on the inside, lining their heights up to the height of the center chamber. This allows the chamber to have a clean break, and rotate. Now imagine how that would work if you had to have the same key from two different angles. There would be very little security, as the key itself would have to be completely mirrored down the center.
The way the locks work is actually by connecting to a third mechanism inside of the door which slides back and forth. When the lock is turned to the locked position, it rotates a shaft on the back which pulls the locking mechanism inside the door to the locked position. Because both sides of the lock are connected to the same piece, when one side turns to the locked position, both sides become locked. The same goes for the unlocked position.
So, no, keeping a key in the door won’t make it harder for burglars to pick it.
But here’s the thing: Burglars aren’t likely to pick your lock anyway. They’re much more likely to break into your home from the second story, or through a window, somewhere that is much less secure than a lock. But the real kicker is, if you happen to have a double keyed deadbolt, and you leave your key in the lock on the inside, the burglar will be able to unlock your door, open it up, and drag anything they want right out the front door.
So not only isn’t it harder for them to pick it, but you’ve made it so much easier for them to take your stuff.
How can I make my front door more secure?
There are a few ways to improve the security of a front door. First, and foremost, is the door itself. If your sole focus is on security, replace the door with a solid metal door. This will avoid the issue of burglars breaking through your door with a chainsaw. If you’d like to have light, you should replace the door with a solid metal door with a security glass window.
Speaking of security glass, one common security failing for doors is being too close to windows. When that happens a burglar can break the window, reach inside, and unlock the door — depending on the locks you use. But, if you’d like to avoid that entirely, replace any glass near the door with security glass as well.
One major area to look at is the security of your hinges. Brute force is the friend of all burglars. Most door hinges come stock with small, weak, screws. You should replace these weaker screws with much longer, durable, screws that will reach through the door frame into the structural frame surrounding the door. This will make it much harder for someone to break the hinges free from the frame.
Finally, if you have an outside door that swings outside, that leaves you in a very insecure position. All a burglar would need to do is remove the hinge pins from your door and pull the door, lock and all, out of the frame. To combat this, however, you can use a set of security pins. These replace a screw in your hinge, and when the door is closed, lock the door in place. You will want to replace one in each of the hinges to secure the door from top to bottom.
How can I get a master key to all of the apartments that I own?
If you’re trying to get a master key to all of the apartments that you own, my first suggestion would be to hire a locksmith. If you’re also trying to become a locksmith, that’s great, and we can help.
Master keys are essentially locks with two different keys. The first set of keys are used by the tenant, and correspond to the original pin set of the lock. To master key the lock, however, a locksmith will remove the pins, and swap them out for shorter pins that add up to the original height. The new break in the pins is your master key break. The exact size of the pins will be different for each lock, but when the master key is slid into the lock, it will line the breaks up, and the master key will unlock every door.
So in short, if you don’t know how to re-key a lock, hire a locksmith.
Are thumb turn locks secure?
A thumb turn lock is what we call a dead bolt lock with a key on one side, and a knob on the other. You’ll sometimes find deadbolts with a key on both sides. If you look at the second question in this list, we talk about that. The difference between the two is that a thumb turn lock provides you an immediate egress if your home becomes inhospitable, such as during a fire, or if your in-laws come to visit. If you have a double-keyed lock, you need to either keep the key in the lock itself — in which case, you basically have a two piece thumb turn lock — or you have to keep the key somewhere you can always get to it. Or worse, you just never lock that lock, in which case, you shouldn’t have a lock at all.
So are thumb turn locks secure? There is always the risk that someone will be able to smash a hole in a window and unlock it from the outside. Locks are a constant tug of war between security and acceptable risk. And there is always a risk. If the lock is for a residential property, the risk between a thumb turn and a double lock dead bolt is the difference between potentially having someone break in by being very sneaky, or potentially losing your life because you forgot where you dropped your keys last night.
Frankly, I’d rather risk the burglary. That’s why I always use thumb turn locks.