7 Types Of Deadbolt Locks: Choose the One That Fits Best For Your Requirements!

Key Takeaway

  • Different types of deadbolts have the same working principle and  differ only in form.
  • Seven prominent types of deadbolts are – single cylinder, double cylinder, electronic, smart, mortise, vertical and rim.

Over a period of time, deadbolts have become the mainstay of front door security. However, the jury (and the confusion) is still out on which type of deadbolt lock to buy for a particular requirement.

In this article, we will take a look at different deadbolt door lock types and how to decide which one to buy for your requirement.

Along the way, I will also share real images of some of these deadbolt types that I have used (or using) in my home.

So let’s get straight into it!

7 Different Types of Deadbolt Locks

All the different deadbolts work on the same principle of pushing (and retracting) a metal bolt into a doorframe either with a key, thumb-turn or electronically.

However, deadbolts differ on parameters like –

  • How is the bolt activated?
  • Where is the deadbolt mounted?
  • Does the bolt moves horizontally or vertically?

Based on the differences of these parameters, deadbolts can be categorized under 7 types –

  • Single Cylinder Deadbolt
  • Double Cylinder Deadbolt
  • Electronic Deadbolt
  • Smart Deadbolt
  • Mortise Deadbolt
  • Rim Deadbolt
  • Vertical Deadbolt

Single Cylinder Deadbolt

Single-Cylinder Deadbolt Locks

In a Single Cylinder deadbolt, the bolt is activated manually with a key on the outside and a thumb-turn on the inside of the door.

They have a single cylinder in the lock mechanism and hence the name. They are also the most common type of deadbolt you will find in households and are (commonly) used in addition to dead latches.

The biggest advantage of single cylinder deadbolt is the convenience. Since the lock is operated with a thumb-turn on the inside, the egress is easy especially during emergency situations.

However, one big disadvantage is that if they are installed near a glass window, anyone can break the window and access the thumb-turn. Therefore it is recommended to have an arm distance between a single cylinder deadbolt and glass.

Double Cylinder Deadbolt

Double-Cylinder Deadbolt Locks

A double cylinder deadbolt lock is operated with a key on either side of the door. It contains 2 separate cylinders that activate the bolt. In simpler terms, there are 2 locks in a single deadbolt.

The biggest advantage of a double cylinder deadbolt is enhanced security since a key is required to unlock the lock from either side. Therefore they are best suited if the door is near to a glass window.

However the biggest, and perhaps a very big concern, is that during emergency situations, the egress is difficult. That’s why there are special laws that you need to consider before installing them.

In case, you want to read more on single cylinder vs double cylinder, I have done a detailed article.

Electronic Deadbolt

Electronic Deadbolt Locks

Electronic deadbolt locks are just like single cylinder deadbolts but use keypad or touchscreen on the outside (of the door) to activate the bolt.

Instead of using a key, you will be punching in an access code that will do the same job as the key. This means that you can do away with the keys. And that’s their biggest advantage.

Mind you, they are not connected to wi-fi or other smart home technology and hence are also called “non connected” locks.

Their main disadvantage is increased cost and regular battery replacement.  

Smart Deadbolt

Smart deadbolt - Kwikset Halo
Kwikset Halo Touchscreen installed on my front door

As the name suggests, smart deadbolts connect with wi-fi and can be operated with a mobile app. And since they can be controlled with an app, you can access them from anywhere. Needless to say, they can be operated with a key and a thumb-turn as well.

For example, I have installed Kwikset Halo on my front door. I can access the lock and see all the notifications on my mobile. I can set multiple user codes for different people. It also comes with additional security features like vacation mode, auto-lock functionality, secure touchscreen etc.

Kwikset mobile app.

Basically these locks are designed to provide you the highest level of convenience and increase your laziness quotient.

One drawback of smart deadbolts is that they are pretty pricey and you will have regular battery replacement cost as well.

Mortise Deadbolt

Mortise deadbolt
Mortise deadbolt that I recently bought sans the latch

A Mortise lock contains both a deadbolt as well as a latch and is installed by cutting a rectangular pocket, known as “mortise” into the door frame.

Since the body of a mortise lock is inserted into the door frame, they provide better security against forcible entry.

They are more expensive that single cylinder deadbolts and require a little bit more expertise to install. To know more about how to mortise lock vs single cylinder deadbolt, refer to one of my other article.

Rim Deadbolt

Rim lock
Old Rim lock that was replaced

Rim locks are surface mounted on the door from inside and don’t require a key to lock the door.

They are often used for interior doors as they don’t provide enough protection. However, they can also be seen in addition to traditional single cylinder deadbolts on front doors. In-fact, I had one installed on my main door, which was later replaced with smart deadbolt.

Their biggest advantage is their ease of installation for which you will just need a screwdriver.

Having said that, I will never recommend rim locks as your main security lock on front doors.

Vertical Deadbolt

Vertical deadbolts are installed on top edge of the doorframe and their bolt moves in vertical direction rather than horizontal.

They provide better security than horizontal bolt movement locks as they are difficult to pry open with a crowbar.

One disadvantage with vertical deadbolts is that they are usually bigger in size which require more installation time and money.

What Type of Deadbolt Is Best For You?

Though, there cannot be a definitive answer to this question as it depends on your requirement yet I will try to give my recommendation in different scenarios.

  • If you want the cheapest solution without compromising the security, I will suggest going for a single cylinder deadbolt along with a dead-latch. But keep in mind that no glass window should be in vicinity.
  • If you are a lazy person and prioritize convenience the most, then my recommendation will be a smart deadbolt. I have mentioned some of the best smart deadbolts here.
  • Mortise locks make more sense when your wooden door is heavy and can support a mortise cut out.
  • If due to any reason, you can’t install a deadbolt, then rim deadbolts are a great choice.

Whatever deadbolt you choose, don’t forget to check out its ANSI grading. ANSI grading is a metric to measure locks’ security. Read everything about ANSI lock grades here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can you pick a deadbolt lock with a knife or a credit card?

Answer – It is not possible to pick a deadbolt lock using a knife or a credit card, but that does not mean all deadbolt locks are pick-free. There are alternative ways to pick these locks, so I recommend investing in grade 1 deadbolts that are the most secure in terms of safety.

Q2. What is the deadbolt lock’s typical lifespan?

Answer – Every lock suffers substantial wear and tear over time. As far as the lock’s lifespan is concerned, the assumption is that it will last for a maximum of seven to eight years. It is recommended to inspect them at least once a year to avoid any last minute unpleasant surprises.


All types of deadbolts work on the same principle and differ only on the form. Therefore the final choice will depend on the budget and your personal preferences.

But whatever deadbolt you decide to purchase, make sure that it is ANSI grade 1. Do let me know if you have any questions and I will try to answer them to the best of knowledge.

Leave a Comment

Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.