Updated: Oct 12, 2016
- What to look for in a deadbolt?
- Types of deadbolts
- Deadbolt installation help
Finding the Best Deadbolts - Nothing is more important than the security of your family and home. Your home is, or should be, a sanctuary, a place to escape whatever is going on in the world and to feel safe. We can't control what happens in the world outside, but we can take effective steps to control what happens inside. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in a good deadbolt.
Deadbolt locks are designed to make doors more resistant to entry - whether someone is using a hammer, pry bar, or simply the wrong key. They provide better protection than a spring-lock, and are often used to provide superior security. Why do you need a great quality deadbolt? Who makes the safest deadbolts, and what do you need to consider when buying a deadbolt? This review will cover those questions, plus provide some tips on installing a deadbolt and how to avoid key "bumping".
To get started, the video below covers a basic deadbolt installation, so you can know in advance how the various parts work and are installed:
Types of Dead Bolt Locks
You don't need to turn your home into a bunker, but it is important to look for quality when you are getting a deadbolt lock. There are some things that you should know before you buy so you don't wander around wondering what to buy. This will save you some time later on.
First, look for the ANSI Grade specification. The American National Standards Institute is a non-profit that overseas safety standards across a multitude of industries. To have earned an ANSI Grade 1 Specification, the deadbolt must have been tested through 250,000 open/close cycles, project 1-inch into the door frame, and can withstand 10 hammer blows (where do you sign up for that job?) without giving way. This is a commercial grade deadbolt lock and will be suitable for your home as well.
A Grade 2 deadbolt is also recommended for home use. A Grade 3 deadbolt will be the cheapest, but it also just meets the standards - it's sliding by with a D. Get an A or a B.
Look also for the UL listing. The Underwriters Laboratories also oversees standards development in a number of industries. Look for deadbolt locks which have a UL listing of 437. This means that the lock has met the standards for high security locks. UL testers also have a fun job: they get to drill, pick, pry, and hammer at doors to arrive at this rating. So remember, ANSI Grade 1, and UL 437.
Next, consider whether you want a single or double cylinder. A double cylinder deadbolt will not operate without a key, even from the inside. A single cylinder lock is the kind most of us are familiar with: they operate with a key from the outside and inside by turning the lock with your hand. There are advantages to both. You would want a double cylinder if your exterior door had a window or was framed with windows. If someone were to simply break the window, he could reach in and turn a single cylinder deadbolt lock and open your door. With a double cylinder, you need the key to open it from the inside as well.
Why not use a double cylinder all the time? One reason is that it is somewhat inconvenient when you're inside. Another is that it can be dangerous in a fire or other emergency in which you need to exit the building quickly. What if you can't find the key (maybe think about a finger print door lock..)? This is why these locks are almost exclusively used with doors with windows. A solid door with a single cylinder lock is safer - and double cylinder doesn't mean it's doubly strong, so a single cylinder is just as strong.
Look for locks with steel bolts or hardened steel inserts and that have a 1-inch throw or more. This means that 1-inch of the bolt extends past the door's edge. This makes it more difficult for an intruder from jimmying the lock. The striking plate should be steel, and the screws used to attach them should be 3 inches in length. Now you're ready to get into the good stuff: which locks and brands will be the best choice for you? You can browse the best selling deadbolts online here.
Choosing the Best Deadbolt Locks:
Burglars prefer that you skip the deadbolt and install just a spring-lock on your door jamb. They prefer this so they can simply use a pry bar and open your door, or within a minute or two, pick the lock. Often, they bypass buildings with deadbolts because they want an easier target. This is an area where you really do get what you pay for. You can find ANSI Grade 3 deadbolts for just over $10. These, however, won't delay an intruder for long, especially one intent on gaining access.
RECOMMENDED - One of the names you will see a lot is Schlage. The Schlage B60 609 Grade 1 Single Cylinder Deadbolt is a good choice for home security because it offers the ANSI Grade 1 protection, dual backset latch for 2 - 3/8-inch or 2 - 3/4-inch backsets, 5-pin cylinder, larger latch/bolt size, anti-pick shield, easy 3-piece hands-free installation, larger thumbturn, and is ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant. This lock is $27 and is available in either single or double cylinder. View the top rated Schlage deadbolts here.
Another choice in a comparable price range is the Kwikset 980 Single Cylinder Deadbolt. Kwickset is another name you will hear a lot when researching deadbolts. This model consistently receives positive reviews from consumers, including one Amazon reviewer who called it "ingenious." It has a Smartkey customized security system that allows you to rekey very easily (in case you lost a key or gave one to someone you wished you hadn't). It is Grade 1 rated and has a patented locking sidebar for bump key protection. Other features: drill resistance, locking bar, stainless steel racks and pins, 1-inch titanium alloy throw bolt core, and your choice of great finishes. This lock is about $30. Deadbolts like this range in price from about $30 to $50; expect to pay that much. Again, you can get a lock, like the Schlage Dexter series, for less than $20, but you are not getting the same level of protection. See the most popular dead bolts lock sets here.
To see Schlage vs. Kwikset comparisons and other helpful videos, check out our deadbolt resource page - click the image below to go to video.
Electronic keyless deadbolts are growing in popularity. When looking for one, find a model that prevents lock bumping, which is a method of breaking deadbolts. One of the top models you can get is the Sunnect AP501AB Advanced Protection Digital Deadbolt Lock. One Amazon reviewer called this lock "top shelf," well-made, strong, and reliable. The Sunnect features patent-pending digital technology, keyless entry, backlit keypad, decoy digits, intruder alarm, 1-inch throwbolt, automatic locking, and visual and audible low-battery warning.
The motor, computer chip, and battery are housed on the secure side of the door, providing protection against weather and vandalism. It is pick-proof and bump key proof. National Locksmith Magazine said it was "built like a tank." That's exactly what you want on your side. It lists for $350 but you can find it for $280 at Amazon.
The Camelot costs $120 (get the Schlage Camelot Deadbolt Keypad here) and receives consistently positive reviews. ElectronicDeadboltReview said it was "functional and beautiful." Amazon reviewers remark on the ease and convenience of being able to rekey. They can issue temporary codes to neighbors or work people, and then change it when needed. This adds another level of security.
Installing Your Deadbolt Lock:
Installation is as important as choosing the right deadbolt. Make sure to read the instructions that come with your lock very carefully. Most now are designed for easy installation. Unless you have a series of locks or need a master key system, you can do it yourself. The Expert series has a helpful video on installing deadbolts on YouTube (see above). Check this out if you have any questions or to get a general sense of how to start your installation. Remember to check ANSI Grades and opt for a Grade 1 or 2. This is an area where it is worth it to pay a little bit more.
More videos and resources (including installation help) are here on our Dead Bolt Resource Page 2.
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