- Deadbolts provide a higher level of security than a latch lock, however latch locks provide more convenience.
- It is recommended to secure your front door with a deadbolt and inner doors with latch locks.
When it comes to securing doors (either front or bedroom), there are a lot of options available in the market – deadbolts, deadlatches and spring latch locks. But which one is the right choice that provides reasonable security and ample convenience at the same time?
In this article, we will compare deadbolts with deadlatches and see which should be installed on front doors. We will also take a look at spring latch locks and explore how they stack up against these.
My hope is that after reading the article, you will be better informed to make the right decision. So let’s get started.
What is a Deadbolt?
A deadbolt is a locking mechanism that works by pushing (or retracting) a bolt into the doorframe and can only be turned by a key, thumb-turn (or lever) or electronically.
Deadbolt gets its name from the fact that the bolt becomes “dead” once it is pushed inside the strike plate i.e it can only be retracted with a key/thumb-turn or electronically.
What is a Deadlatch?
A deadlatch is a locking mechanism that has a spring loaded latch and a guard bolt and locks itself when you close the door.
There are 2 key things to note about a deadlatch –
- The latch is spring loaded. Since the latch is spring loaded, the lock locks itself whenever the door is closed.
- It has an additional security feature by the name of guard bolt. Due to this guard bolt, the latch becomes dead and hence the name. We will see below how this happens.
How Does Deadlatch Get Its Name?
Whenever you close the door, only the latch goes past the strike plate and the guard bolt is depressed. A deadlatch is designed in a way that when the guard bolt is depressed, the latch will become “dead” and can be moved only with a thumb-turn or key and hence the name.
Now that we have seen how a deadbolt and deadlatch works, let’s come to the comparison.
Deadbolt vs Deadlatch
The biggest difference between a deadbolt and a deadlatch is that deadlatch will lock itself when you close the door while a key/thumb-turn will be required to lock a deadbolt. This makes a deadlatch more convenient but deadbolt provides better security against force attacks.
Well, that’s the short answer, let’s take a look at all the differences first in tabular manner and then in detail.
Differences Between Deadbolt and Deadlatch
|Security||More secure than deadlatch especially against forcible entry||Less secure|
|Ease of Installation||Same as a deadlatch||Same as a deadbolt|
|Convenience||Low on convenience||Provides very high convenience|
|Cost||Costly than deadlatch||Cheaper when compared to Deadbolt|
|Best Suited For||Front doors along with door knobs||Can be used on front doors with other locking mechanism|
Even though the latch becomes “dead” in deadlatch, it is still less secure than a deadbolt. The bolt in a deadbolt is sturdier and longer that goes deeper into the strike plate, hence making it more immune to forcible attacks.
In-fact, at some places, it is a requirement from insurance companies to install a deadbolt on front doors.
Since a deadbolt can only be locked or unlocked with a key or thumb-turn, it scores poorly on the convenience aspect. Imagine a scenario that you closed the door but forgot to lock the door?
With a deadlatch, you will never face such a situation since it locks itself as soon as you close the door.
In-fact, convenience is the biggest factor why still a lot of people use deadlatch on front doors.
Cost & Installation
Even though manual deadbolts are a little bit more expensive than deadlatches, I feel the price difference is not too much to rule out any favorites.
The same goes for the installation if you are comparing apples to apples. Let me give you an example –
If you are thinking of installing a single cylinder deadbolt and a bored deadlatch, then the cost of installation will be comparable.
Pro-Tip: Since there are too many types of deadbolts, their installation cost will vary. Therefore before deciding between a deadbolt and deadlatch, ask for the actual installation costs.
So Which One is Better For Front Doors?
Deadbolts are definitely more secure than deadlatches and highly recommended for front doors. If you still want to go ahead with a deadlatch, I will suggest going for mortise deadlatch instead of bored deadlatches.
As mentioned above, deadbolts provides better security, especially against force attacks and loiding, therefore it makes much more sense to install them on front doors.
They are a little bit more inconvenient than deadlatches but hey security is paramount.
You can also install deadlatches on front doors but always add additional lock mechanisms to provide better security. Otherwise they make an excellent choice for inner doors locks.
What About Spring Latch Locks?
A spring latch lock has spring loaded latch that locks itself when the door is closed. Unlike deadlatches, they don’t have a guard bolt to make the latch “dead”.
The biggest vulnerability with a spring latch is loiding or bypassing in which the lock is opened without picking or damaging it. Usually a credit card or a knife is used to apply enough pressure to the latch so that springs can be activated and latch is retracted.
To know more about how to pick a lock with credit card, refer to one of my earlier articles.
Spring latch locks are best suited for inner doors (bedroom) where privacy is the main concern rather than security.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Is one deadbolt is enough for front door?
Answer – Even though a deadbolt should be enough for front door but I will still advise you to get a rim lock along with a deadbolt.
Q2. Is installing 2 deadbolts on front door a good idea?
Answer – Installing 2 deadbolts on front door is not advised for the following reasons –
- In case of an emergency, unlocking two deadbolts can become a hazard especially if they are double cylinder deadbolts.
- Since deadbolts don’t auto lock, you will have to lock them individually causing you inconvenience.
Q3. Which kind of lock is the best for front doors?
Answer – Deadbolts are undoubtedly the best locks for your front doors. If you want to supplement them with a door-knob or a rim lock, that is added bonus.
When it comes to security, deadbolts should definitely be your first choice. However, deadlatches provide convenience that deadbolts can’t.
Therefore the choice between a deadbolt and a deadlatch comes down to personal preferences; however it is advised to have deadbolts on main doors and deadlatches on inner doors.
If you have more questions about deadbolt vs latch locks, write to me in the comment section. I will be glad to answer.