Types of Keys and Locks

Types of Keys and Locks

Keep your home secure with a reliable lock and key system

By Tiesha Whatley

Lock and Key
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Locks and keys are used to protect and secure your most valued processions: your family and your home. External and internal locks vary in size, type and technology. There are seven basic types of door locks: privacy lockset, entry lockset, deadbolt lock, surface-mounted deadbolt, mortise lock, night latch and keyless entry systems. Choosing which lock is right for that particular door in your home requires for you to know more about the different types of locks and keys.

Types of Keys

Different keys are used for different locking mechanisms. The types of keys are skeleton, automotive, high security and circle keys. The use of skeleton keys is dissipating but is still found in some structures. The purpose of these is to serve as a master key to open all the doors in the home. Automotive keys are use to open doors and start a vehicle. High-security keys have several different mechanisms to open highly secured locks. Circle keys are the most common form of key used for internal and external doors.


Privacy and entry locksets are commonly found on interior doors. Privacy locksets have a button on the inside knob that works as a locking mechanism. However, it doesn't have a device for a key on the outside. Privacy locksets are used mostly for privacy and not for security. The lock can be easily picked in the case of an emergency. The entry lockset is similar to the privacy lockset, but it uses a key on the outside for entry. The locking mechanism on the inside can either be a push button, twist knob or an additional keyhole. The entry lockset offers medium security with its included deadlatch -- an additional locking mechanism that is connected to the entry latch. The deadlatch can only be unlocked when the primary entry lockset is unlocked.


Deadbolt locks are used on exterior home doors because of their high security properties. This type of lock doesn't use any type of springs to operate, so an intruder will have a hard time trying to pick them. It uses a key and/or thumb turn for the locking mechanism. The deadbolt also prevents intruders from prying open the door by locking the door to the frame. Another type of deadbolt is the surface-mounted deadbolt. Similar to the security properties of the regular deadbolt, the surface-mounted deadbolt is a square box mounted to the inside of the door. It also uses a key and/or thumb turn knob. There is a surface-mounted strike that the deadbolt locks into instead of the door frame.

Mortise Lock

The mortise lock is a flat rectangular box that fits into the door's edge. There is a keyhole on the outside and knob on the inside. It uses a pin tumbler in the cylinder as the locking mechanism. The deadbolt and the latch can be opened at the same time by inserting a key. These types of locks are usually found on the entrance doors of apartment complexes.

Night Latches

Night latches aren't very secure when used alone, but are more effective when paired with another locking mechanism. It's easy to pry around a night latch; however, a night latch is handy because it locks automatically when the door is closed. The latch is installed on the inside of the door and uses a key to unlock from the outside.

Keyless Entry

Keyless entry is the modern approach to home locks. They are primarily used on exterior doors along with some type of alarm system that sounds when an invalid code has been entered three times. The code used for these doors continuously rolls so that no code is used twice. They are compatible with garage door openers for the homeowner's convenience, so only one remote is needed to open both.

About the Author

Tiesha Whatley is a contributor to DexKnows.com.

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