How to choose the right front door lock for your home

When you secure your front, back, or any entry door–whether you’re leaving your house or locking things up for the night–you should feel a sense of security that you’ll be protected from intruders. But your safety depends on choosing the right entry door locks.

Did you know that more than a third of burglars gain entry through a front door? That’s quite a sobering thought and a great reason to re-examine your existing lock.

There are a variety of styles and types of entry door locks to choose from, including smart locks, deadbolt locks, and electronic door locks. Some have smart features that are compatible with smart home devices, while others have remote control and a smartphone app. And some, of course, come with physical keys.

But which entry hardware and lock type are right for you? Hint: it’s not door knobs. Let’s take a look.

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The Different Types of Door Locks

The primary concern, of course, is safety when it comes to any entry door. The safest front door lock, or those for any entry doors, of course, is the one that prevents forced entry, but the right exterior door lock is durable and dependable over time. Entry doors won’t be secure with just any type of door lock. You can choose from smart locks, electronic locks, a keyed entry, a door knob lock, and a number of configurations of deadbolt locks.

Door Knob lock

Knob locks are the lock on door handles, whether knobs or levers. These are the locks you see on both interior and exterior doors. The lock cylinder is contained in the knob itself, which means they aren’t a good security method for exterior doors. A blow with a hammer or other solid object can easily break them.

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Deadbolt lock

Deadbolts offer strong protection against unauthorized entry. Deadbolt locks have bolts that move when you turn a knob or key. These locks resist physical attacks (like someone trying to break down your door with their body) and battering and boring with tools.

When choosing a deadbolt lock, another consideration is the strike plate where the deadbolt lock enters your door frame.

The right deadbolt for a front door and any entry door locks should have a heavy-duty metal strike plate with screws at least three inches long that attach it to your door frame. This will make your door extremely difficult for an intruder to kick in.

Deadbolt lock styles

Deadbolt locks have three primary types: single, double, and vertical. The single-cylinder deadbolt is the simplest, activated by a key on the outer side and a knob on the other. A key must be used on both sides with the double-cylinder deadbolt lock. The lock moves up and down, not horizontally, with vertical deadbolts. This type of deadbolt lock has the most resistance to forced entry by prying.

Electronic lock

You’ll easily recognize an electronic lock because it has a keypad. These electronic locks are opened with an attached keypad instead of a key. Some are battery-powered, and others are mechanical. They use an attached numerical keypad rather than a key. A deadbolt lock is usually used as the actual locking mechanism. These locks enable you to create codes for entry, and some let you set multiple codes so you can know who is coming or going.

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Smart lock

Smart locks use the latest technology to provide versatile ways to unlock your door and provide maximum security. Some come with a keypad and keyhole, but locking and unlocking most smart locks can be done via a smartphone app or a key fob. Most Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-only smart locks can also connect with your home’s smart features and even have voice control. These smart locks are battery-powered.

How do you pick a good door lock?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) partnered with the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association and tested locks to set standards so you can ensure you pick the right product for your entry door lock.

ansi lock gradeHow ANSI grades

ANSI grades have three criteria: security, durability, and finish. The grades are represented by numbers. Grade 1 is the best possible grade, grade 2 is okay for most door locks for residential use on an entry door, and grade 3 entry door locks should be avoided.

home security san joseSecurity

This tells you how secure the lock is once it is installed on entry doors. A lock with a high-security rating means a lot of weight can be put on it without breaking it open. This doesn’t mean the lock isn’t easy to pick, but an AAA grade does indicate that the door won’t be easy to kick in.

durability of a front door lockDurability

This tells you how the lock will function over time and in various temperatures and whether the lock will dent easily. You’ll need a long-lasting door lock for a front door, which is frequently locked and unlocked.

finish level iconFinish

This isn’t just about aesthetics–it also ties into durability. You want a lock that won’t scratch easily and one that is resistant to humidity and salt.

The importance of the right strike plate

You can buy a great lock, but if the right strike plate isn’t being used, you are compromising security. The strike plate attaches to your door frame. Without the right one, an intruder can easily kick in your door, no matter what other measures you take. The screws that attach the strike plate should be a minimum of three inches long, and the strike plate itself should be made of heavy-duty metal.

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What Kind of Door Lock Should I Buy for My Front Door?

Now that you know the different types of entry door locks and the lock grade, how do you know what kind of lock is right for any entry door in your home, including the front door? Let’s take a look at the options and their pros and cons so you can make an informed decision and select the right door lock.

Avoid knob locks

Almost all exterior door knobs and door levers contain built-in locking mechanisms. That means you can turn the locking lever, pull them closed to lock them from the outside, and go on your way.

Convenient, but not very secure

These door locks are easy to use but extremely susceptible to break-ins. This flimsy knob and lever locks are easy to pick, and one hammer blow can break them off. Once the door knob has been removed, the door lock cylinder can be easily manipulated.

Knob locks are for interior doors

Exterior door locks should be much more secure and reliable, and knob locks don’t provide that. Knob locks should be used for interior doors only, not to secure the front door or other entry doors.

single deadblotSingle-cylinder deadbolt

No matter what type of entry doors you have, they need a deadbolt. As we mentioned, a deadbolt with one cylinder has a key lock on one side and a knob on the other side. This type of lock won’t have a spring.

You should ensure the screws go at least three inches into your door jamb. This is a secure lock if you pick the right grade, but if you have a window in your door or sidelights beside it, there might be better choices than this one.


Single-cylinder locks are the most common because they are efficient and cost less to buy and install than other deadbolts. They are also more convenient since you don’t have to use a key inside the door.

But may not be the best for your entry door

However, if the window in your entry door is close enough to the lock that someone could break the window and twist the knob, a single-cylinder deadbolt isn’t your best choice.

Double Cylinder Deadbolt Lock

This type of entry door lock has keyholes on both sides of your door. These double-sided keyed locks add more security for all types of entry doors. In fact, you might want to replace your existing deadbolt.

More security, fewer break-ins

Installing double-cylinder locks means enhanced security. As we mentioned, doors with windows or sidelights can be broken, and intruders can reach inside and unlock the door. Double-cylinder locks provide an extra layer of protection for home security. Replacing your existing lock with a dual-cylinder model can reduce break-ins by at least 50%.

Keep an extra key handy

If you decide to go with a double-cylinder lock for a new or existing door, keep an extra key handy in case someone needs to exit in an emergency.

Vertical deadbolt locks

These locks are likely overkill and aren’t the most attractive option in the bunch, but they provide great security.


Strong and reliable

Vertical deadbolts are attached to the door frame at the top instead of on the side and makes it almost impossible for burglars to pry the door open. If you live in a high-crime area, a vertical deadbolt can be a great option.

Electronic door locks

An electronic door lock is a type of keyless lock for your entry door. It’s actually a type of smart lock, but it is not as “smart” as other smart locks, as we’ll get to in a bit.

These electronic locks have a number of advantages.

  • No keys are needed

There’s no key to lose or use–electronic locks on your entry doors usually use a keypad and a PIN code.

  • Easy access for friends and neighbors

If you’re going on vacation and need a friend, family member, or neighbor to feed your dog or water the plants, you don’t have to worry about having extra keys made. You also don’t have to hide a key under that fake rock any longer, just in case, someone gets locked out.

  • Great for those with mobility problems
  • If you or someone who lives in your home has a mobility issue such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, turning a key can be painful. Having a keyless entry door can be a big help.


Smart Locks

Smart locks in the form of electronic locks with a keypad have been around for some time. Smart locks are the latest in entry door locks.

  • These keyless door locks allow you to open your door without using a key.
  • You can control a smart lock with a smartphone app, and some also feature a keypad.
  • It connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network, so your smart lock can receive a code through the keypad or the app command to lock or unlock the door.
  • You can also retrofit smart locks to your current keyed entry system and existing deadbolt, no matter the different types of entry door hardware you might have.

You can integrate smart locks into a smart home system or integrate with things like a smart speaker or your home security system. Here’s why you might want one on your front or all of your entry doors.

Great peace of mind

Only those you give it to know your code, so you’ll know who comes in and out of your home, which is a great way to keep track of the kid’s coming and going. Using the app, you can also check if the door is locked or unlocked, and you can lock and unlock your door lock with remote access, no matter where you are. You also get full control of who accesses your home–you become the gatekeeper. You can program your smart lock to give access to guests and workers. And, if other members of your household also have the app, you can assign different permissions for what they can and cannot see.

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Installing Smart locks

When it comes to installation, one of the greatest advantages of smart locks is that you can install them yourself (some also come with a master key). If you’re comfortable installing other electronic devices like TVs or computers, then installing a smart lock should be relatively easy.

But if you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself, hire a locksmith or handyman to do the job for you. It shouldn’t take more than an hour or two to install, and it’s well worth the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing your home is secure.

There are some cons to smart locks

While smart locks are a great alternative to a keyed entry, they do have some downsides.


While it’s unlikely, a hacker could bypass your entry code. However, many smart locks will alert you so you can call the police. And because these locks rely on Wi-Fi, if your network suffers a cyberattack, that could mean access to your smart lock.

You lose your smartphone

If you lose your smartphone or your battery runs down, you can lose access to your home. If you have a keypad, you’re in better shape, but you will want to contact the smart lock company. But locks are the only thing you should think about when considering home security. Another important detail is the door hardware.

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The Importance of the Right Door Hardware

The entry door hardware you pick has aesthetic value. If you have an older home, you might want a satin nickel finish. But door hardware also makes a difference when it comes to your family’s security and safety.

Old and worn door hardware not only looks bad, but it’s also more vulnerable to break-ins and, well, just breaking. An entry door handle is available in many finishes; some even come with a matching deadbolt lock, although you have to look carefully. Don’t automatically assume that any lock that comes with a handle set is the right one–consult your locksmith and make sure the lock grade is appropriate.

Let’s talk about some things to keep in mind, whether you’re replacing existing hardware or purchasing entry hardware for a new door. There are many options. Which option is right for you?

Front entry handle

You can pair a front entry door handles with a deadbolt or smart lock in a pleasing manner. This type of handle has a “tongue” that you push down to open the door.

An inactive handset

With this kind of handset, the door pull is simply decorative. It must be paired with a deadbolt or a smart lock. Be careful when purchasing an inactive handset, as some look like they come with a deadbolt, but it’s simply for aesthetics and is not a working lock.

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How will I know what size door lock I need?

If you’re replacing a door or installing a new one, there are some things you need to know before you start drilling out holes for locks.

The lock bore

The bore is the diameter of the hole for the lock’s body and should be 2-1/8″. You might find an older door has a smaller bore, but this is the modern standard.

If you’re replacing one that has a smaller diameter bore, your locksmith will help you find the right lock to fit.

The backset

This is the distance from the door’s edge to the bore’s center. For a new door, the backset can vary from 2-3/8″ to 2-3/4″ to 2″ to 5″, depending on the manufacturer. If you want to locate your lock in the center of the door, some brands have extensions. For an existing door, if you are replacing a lock, the backset must match the holes that have been bored into the door.

Front Doors Need Protection

It’s not enough to go to your local hardware store and just pick out a deadbolt lock or a smart lock. Exterior doors, particularly your front door, are the main entry point for criminals.

The right strike plates are all important choices, whether you want a thumb turn on one side, a double-cylinder deadbolt, or a smart lock that takes voice commands. The American National Standards Institute guidelines are a great place to start, but you need a locksmith for the best advice and ultimate security.

In San Jose, There’s Only Once Choice When it Comes to Locksmith Services!

Buddy’s Locksmith Pro has kept homeowners secure in San Jose throughout San Fransico for over ten years. We offer a satisfaction guarantee, competitive pricing, and the best in customer service. Our locksmiths are licensed and insured in the state of California, so you can have peace of mind. We also carry only the highest quality brands. Our service area includes the entire Bay Area. Give us a call at (408) 315-2063 or fill out our handy form, and we’ll give you a callback.

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