High-Security Locks

House key on a house shaped silver keyring in the lock of a door.

The difference between high-security locks and the standard locks on most homes is the level of security each of these locks ensures. Simply because you purchased an expensive lock for your front door doesn’t make it high security. These special locks have distinctive characteristic traits making them ideal for your home’s protection. At Downs Security Solutions, we offer true high-security locks designed with the highest technology to keep you and your home safe from intruders.

Lock Anatomy

While there are many different styles and brands of high-security locks, a typical residential front-door lock has a common pin-and-tumbler mechanism and is comprised of four components:

  • Cylinder––the lock body, where you insert your key.
  • Bolt––the metal piece that extends into the door frame from the lock, keeping the door secure. There are two types, spring bolt and deadbolt.
  • Box––the small square-shaped box where the bolt enters in the doorframe to keep the door locked.
  • Strike plate––the metal plate attached to the door jamb, framing the box and reinforcing the lock mechanism.

Most high-security locks have the same parts, it’s their assembly, their materials, and the extras that distinguish them from their more common counterparts.

What Makes a High-Security Lock Different?

High-security locks are designed to supersede the weaknesses of standard locks. These security locks are typically constructed with higher metal content, more complex cylinders, and hardened and strengthened metal bolts. Varying combinations of these attributes create a barrier to would-be intruders.

The most popular break-in methods for standard locks are:

  • Picking, where tools are inserted into the cylinder to engage the tumblers, simulating a key (most likely you have seen this in movies).
  • Drilling, where a drill is inserted into the cylinder to destroy the lock and open the door.
  • Bumping, where a “bump” key, either purchased online or created by filing down a nonrelated key in specific spots, is inserted into the lock and tapped a few times, thereby opening the lock.
  • Key duplication, where someone simply has a duplicate key made from an existing key without your permission.
  • Impressions, where a copy is made via pressing the original key into clay, creating a mold, and then fabricating a key copy from the impression.

High-security locks utilize a cylinder design that, in most cases, is impervious to picking, drilling, and bumping. The manufacturers have taken these break-in techniques under consideration and have constructed locks to block any of these types of attempts. Although most all locks are pickable, high-security locks have a level of complexity to make it extremely difficult and time consuming to succeed.

How to Choose a Lock

When trying to select the best lock for your home, you do have some help. You can look for different ratings by various organizations as well as features that combat against some of the more popular break-in techniques.

High-security locks are rated on a grading system set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) (https://www.ansi.org/), a private nonprofit organization that sets and regulates standards in the builders hardware industry. Their door locks ratings range from grades 1 to 3. Grade 1, Best, meets the highest security standards and is typically used in commercial applications. Grade 2, Better, exceeds residential security standards and can be used in light commercial applications. Grade 3, Good, only meets residential security standards, providing minimal residential security. Look for a certified Grade 1 lock for the highest security, though certified Grade 2 does exceed residential security standards. Be sure the lock has the actual grade, not descriptive wording like features of Grade 1 or Grade 1 features. These not the same as the grade certification.

Another rating to assist you in choosing the right lock is the rating from the Underwriters Laboratories––UL 437. This rating’s criteria is based upon conditions such as durability, resistance to drilling and picking, among others.

Additionally, when it comes to deadbolts, decide if you prefer a single-cylinder lock (key hole on the exterior side/thumb-turn-style lever on the interior side) or a double-cylinder lock (key holes on both the exterior and interior sides) style. The double-cylinder lock requires a key to open the door on both sides, which offers the most security since someone can’t break a window and reach in to turn a lever. However, in the case of an emergency, the double can pose a problem if the key is not easily reached.

Yet another factor to consider is the length of the screws securing the strike plate to the door frame. Typically, short screws come with locks, only securing the strike plate to the door jamb and not the door frame itself. Many high-security locks come with three-inch screws, enhancing the security. However, if you purchase one with shorter screws, you can substitute them with the longer ones yourself.

High-security locks offer much higher levels of security for your home than standard locks. Our Downs Security Solutions professionals are happy to answer any questions you may have about these specialized locks. Call us here in Atlanta, GA, at 404-873-2515 today to talk with a team member or to schedule a replacement lock.

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