It’s the most basic element of home security, yet one most of us likely take for granted: front door locks. Police say most burglars gain access to homes through the front door, either by forced entry (kicking it in), or by compromising the lock with a drill or tools. But the right lock can deter either method. From standard locks to state-of-the-art keyless entry, there’s an assortment to meet every homeowner’s style while providing the security you require.
“The first thing most people look at, is price,” says Ron Seus of Hubbard’s Ace Hardware. But there are other things to consider.
As is the case with most things, you get what you pay for. While inexpensive locks can provide adequate security, the more pricey ones are made with stronger materials and better craftsmanship.
“The benefit of titanium is you can’t cut through it with a hacksaw,” Seus says. “But that doesn’t mean your door is necessarily more secure. The weakest point may be your door jamb.”
To address this, Seus recommends replacing the strike (the metal plate that mounts on the door jamb where the bolt slides) and adding a strike-plate to reinforce the area around the lock. This strengthens the lock, helps prevent kick-ins, and can support cracks or chips on the door itself.
Another way thieves gain access is called “lock bumping.” It basically means filing down a key or using a special tool which is inserted into the lock and “bumped,” or struck with a hammer thereby resetting the pins. Kwikset is now making bump-proof locks to prevent this.
Technophiles will appreciate the latest in high-tech keyless door locks. Digitally activated deadbolts work by entering a code that you select on the keypad. They can hold two or more codes depending on the model. “That way, you can have one for yourself and one for your renters or a housekeeper,” says Russell Redfield of the Phoenix Home Depot. “They’re also great for families so your kids won’t lose keys.”
Mission Impossible fans will appreciate the latest in state-of-the-art home security: biometric fingerprint door locks. These are activated by placing one’s finger on a sensor located on the lock plate. “They can hold as many as fifty different fingerprints,” says Redfield. “You won’t get locked out again,” he says. They also have keyed access for backup. The technology sells for about $320 and is available locally.
Both keyless systems offer the benefit of never having to worry about lost or stolen keys, and not having to fumble around for them in the dark. But they are a little bulky on the inside of the door, and naturally cost more than their standard counterparts.
“Each homeowner needs to access their needs and make a decision based on style and security,” Redfield says. “But you don’t have to sacrifice curb-appeal for a good lock system.”