What to Know Before Buying a Residential Lock:
With so many do-it-yourselfers out there, I thought you may appreciate some guidance before taking that trip to the hardware store to purchase a new lock. Now for those upper end homes with mortise style locks on your front doors, this guide will not help you. In those cases I highly suggest you call a locksmith because it is easy to damage those very expensive locks. But for the rest of you with standard locks, follow the steps below and hopefully your new lock will be perfect for your needs and style.
Step #1: The Style
Do you need a Knob, Lever Handle, Deadbolt, or Handleset? On most doors, the deadbolt provides the majority of the security. I often suggest that if the door already has a deadbolt installed, then the Knob/Lever, or Handleset does not need to be keyed at all.
|Deadbolt||Knob Lock||Lever Handle||Handlesets|
If you are purchasing a Lever Handle or Handleset, be sure to note the style of the lever. Better yet, take a picture on your phone or digital camera and take it with you. There is usually very little price difference between different style locks so you might as well purchase one that matches the other locks in your home.
Step #2: The Keyway
There are two primary keyways you are likely to run into: Schlage or Kwikset. This does not mean you have to purchase a Schlage or Kwikset lock. Most popular manufacturers will use one of these two keys. If you have other locks in your home that take a key, then it is important to purchase a new lock that will accept the same key. The head of the key is the easiest way to tell if it is a Kwikset or Schlage but it is sometimes unreliable. You can also look down the key from the tip to tell the keyways apart. Use the following diagram as a guide. In the Collier County area, around 75% of homes are on a Kwikset Keyway.
|Kwikset Key||Schlage Key|
Step #3: The Finish
There are a variety of finishes out there, but if you have existing locks in your home than you may want to try and match them. Here are some of the more popular finishes:
|Bright Brass||Antique Brass||Chrome||Satin Nickel||Bronze|
Remember, finishes can be deceiving. Schlage's Bright Brass will not match Defiant's Bright Brass exactly. If you have two locks on the same door or very near each other, try to purchase them all from the same manufacturer otherwise the differences will most likely not be noticeable. Also remember that these finishes do not like weather. If the locks are in a location that gets wet, then they will discolor and quickly. I have found that Bronze stands up the best to our Florida weather with Antique Brass a distant second. And don't rely on a manufacturer's “lifetime” finish guarantees.
Step #4: Keying
No one likes a keyring full of keys. I once re-keyed a home that had 15 locks and each lock used a different key! This is both frustrating and unnecessary. If you are replacing all of the locks in the home, then look on the top or back of the lock package for the key number. It may be possible to purchase all of the locks already keyed to the same key. If you need to have a lock re-keyed, then some hardware stores can do this for you at no charge when you purchase the lock. You can also bring the lock to a locksmith to be re-keyed for around $15. In both cases be sure to have the key you want the lock keyed to available.
Both Kwikset and Schlage recently came out with locks that can be re-keyed by the owner. Schlage's is called the Secure Key and Kwikset the Smart Key. This will often be indicated right on the front of the package and many hardware stores only sell Kwikset and Schlage brand locks with this feature. I believe the concept to be sound but the locks are still untested for durability. Also be careful with the Schlage Secure Key as you will not be able to easily key it to an existing key. Kwikset's Smart Key is much simpler to re-key to most popular locks that use a Kwikset keyway.
Step #5: Should I Go Electric?
I am a huge fan of the electronic locks. In fact I have a Schlage electronic deadbolt on my home and love it. Some hardware stores will carry a Kwikset and a Schlage electronic lock in a couple different styles and finishes. I greatly prefer the Kwikset over the Schlage, but you may not have a choice if you need to match styles or keyways on your existing locks. The only downside to these locks is weather. They will not perform well if they get direct weather and sunlight. Some water is OK, but if the door is completely exposed, stick with a standard lock and put the electronic lock elsewhere. You also do not need two electronic locks on the same door. Put in an electronic deadbolt and a passage lever/knob. Having a keyed knob under an electronic deadbolt defeats its purpose.
|Schlage Electronic Deadbolt||Kwikset Electronic Deadbolt|
Step #6: What Did I Forget?
I wish I could call this guide comprehensive, but there is simply no way for me to cover every issue you may run into when installing a new lock. Sometimes the new lock does not fit into the old holes properly, sometimes the latch will not go into the door frame, sometimes the holes are too big, other times too small. With luck you will be done with a couple of turns of a screwdriver, but I suggest you do not throw away the old locks until the new locks are on and working and keep the phone number of a good locksmith close by in case you need help.
About the Author:
Key C. Powell, owner of Key Locksmith Services, has over 25 years experience and understands the unique needs of businesses, homes, and condominiums in Collier County. Key's dedication to customer satisfaction and staying on the cutting edge of current technology has made Key Locksmith Services the premier locksmith in Naples and the first choice of homeowners, Realtors, property managers, and business owners.
Contact Key at:
“The KEY to Your Security and Peace of Mind.”