Entry Door Locks: Know Your Options

entry door locksIn this article, we’re going to go over the different types and styles of entry door locks for your front door. What’s important in an entry door lock? How much can I expect to pay? What types of entry door locks are available? We’ll answer these questions about locks for your entry door and more below!

Types of Entry Door Locks

There are several different types of locks that are used for entry doors. They range from simple door knob locks to keyless and electronic entry locks. Let’s go over the different types of entry door locks that are available on the market today.

Handlesets for Entry Doors

Handlesets have an elegant appearance and are most commonly used on more decorative front doors such as those with specialty or curved glass. They also provide some serious security. Most handlesets include a deadbolt upper lock and a thumb-opening bottom lock.

Door Lever Locks

lever style entry door handle in polished nickel finishThese are great locks for when you need to get the entry door open with a handful of groceries. They usually come in a two-piece configuration with a thumb turn deadbolt on top with the lever door handle on the bottom.

Door Knobs

A very common entry door lock, simple door knobs are the most inexpensive option and they come in many different finishes and styles. When used in a two-piece configuration with a deadbolt, this can be a very affordable and secure option for locking your entry door.

Electronic Deadbolt Locks

smart door locksThese are the most convenient types of entry door locks since they don’t require a key for unlocking. Many come with either an analog number pad consisting of buttons and some even have touchscreens and can also be opened via a smartphone app. Most of these types of electronic door locks also have the option to open them with a key, just in case. Popular mechanics has an interesting article about the top 6 electronic deadbolts here.

Prices of Entry Door Locks

For a basic lockset with deadbolt, you could expect to pay in the neighborhood of around $50 to $100. More elegant handlesets can run about $150 to $200. Some of the more advanced electronic locksets will be in the ballpark of $200 to $250 depending on the finish and functionality that you want. Overall, the cost is a small one compared to the importance of securing your entry door.

Door Latch

A door latch is a type of secondary lock that you often see in hotel rooms. It can’t be picked and uses the door frame to keep the door locked. It’s made up of two pieces –  one long chain that’s installed on the face of your door and the other that’s on the door frame.

These two pieces work together to tether the door to the door frame and prevent it from opening far. While it’s a great added layer of security, it should be paired with another lock such as a deadbolt.

Door Security

picking entry door lockSecurity should be the primary objective of any door locking system with looks and appearance a distant second. There are several different factors that make up a good door lock for the entry door of your home.

Lock Grade and Rating

Most entry door locks on the market today have been tested by the American National Standards Institute(ANSI) and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) for how secure they are. These ANSI and BHMA ratings are very valuable to the consumer as they let you know just how secure the lock you’re buying is. These ratings test entry door locks on the following factors:

  • Operation of the lockset
  • Strength and durability
  • Mechanics of the lock
  • Overall security of the lock
  • Material quality inspection
  • Fit and finish of the lock

The actual lock grade refers to the amount of times that a lock and unlocking can be performed. There are 3 basic grades of locks starting with grade 1 which rates locks at 800,000 locking cycles, grade two at 400,000 cycles and grade 3 at 200,000 cycles. Grade 1 is the highest quality lock that you can buy. Grade 1 is a commercial rating, where Grade 2 is most common for most homes and entry doors. Kwikset has a guide that goes over each grade of lock in more detail here.

Drill Resistant Locks

Drilling is perhaps the biggest vulnerability of a lockset. Most drills can easily drill through a deadbolt lock and disable it. This can usually be done within 2 minutes according to tests performed by a recent evaluation of door locks by Consumer Reports. There are some door locks available that can withstand drilling better than others and even disable someone from unlocking even if destroyed.

Your Exterior Door Needs a Deadbolt

key in deadbolt lockFor the best security, any entry or exterior door of your home needs a deadbolt lock on it. A deadbolt actually goes inside of your door’s frame which is much more secure than just a bottom lock that can be compromised with a credit card. When looking for a deadbolt lock for your entry door, make sure that it has hardened pins and that the entire lock set is rated Grade 2 or better.

There’s also another consideration when talking about deadbolt locks – that is the strike plate that the deadbolt engages in your door frame. What you should look for is a deadbolt that comes with a heavy duty plate with at least 3 inch screws to affix to your door frame. This can help make kicking in your door very hard for an intruder.

Mix and Match Different Entry Door Locks

Having only one lock is a mistake. To guarantee your door is extremely strong, you’ll want multiple entry door locks. This can include a deadbolt, knob lock and security latch. That way you know your home is extremely secure.

Entry Door Designs and Types of Locks

bronze handleset entry door lockWhen talking about locks for entry doors, we think it’s almost mandatory to include locks with deadbolts. Otherwise, your front door could easily be kicked in. Below are some different types of locks for different styles of entry doors.

Solid Steel or Fiberglass Entry Doors

Every good entry door should include a deadbolt. In the case of solid, glass-less entry doors, you should look for a good Grade 2 or better deadbolt with hardened pins along with a solid doorknob key lock.

Front Doors with Decorative Glass or Sidelights

interior lockset for front door with decorative glass and sidelightsIf you choose to buy or have an entry door with decorative glass within the door or sidelights, you have a few options to consider. One option might be to buy a double cylinder deadbolt which requires a key to open the lock from the inside and outside. This is different than most traditional single cylinder deadbolts that have a turnpiece on the inside of the door. Double cylinder deadbolts do have a major drawback – fire safety. If there’s a fire inside your home, you will need a key to make a fast exit out the front door. For this reason, many building codes require that you have a single cylinder deadbolt.

In most cases, a good deadbolt and locking handle set will do well to protect against forced entry, at least for a time. We suggest reading our guide on window and door safety for other ways to deter intruders from breaking into your home.

Lock Styles and Finishes

There are many style and finish options available to consumers buying new locksets today. Some are more traditional and functional and others are more designed for aesthetics. Generally, most door locks are available in polished silver, brass, bronze or black finishes. There are other variations available such as “oil-rubbed bronze” or even “distressed” finishes that mimic a weathered appearance.

There are also many styles of locks made up of mostly three basic types: knobs, levers and handlesets. For entry doors, you will find that most of these styles will include a standard or decorative deadbolt.


There’s a whole world of options available for entry door hardware and locksets. There are many considerations when looking for a new entry door lock including security and looks. Find the lockset that matches your style and has the functionality and quality to keep your home safe.

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