Latch vs. Deadbolt Lock

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Most standard front doors come with two locks: the spring latch that is located within the assembly of the doorknob, and the deadbolt located above or just below the doorknob. Both work well to secure the door, but the deadbolt adds a second layer of protection against home invasions.

How Latches Work

  • Latches are slim pieces of metal that are triggered when a key turns. Sometimes called spring latches because they spring into place, they are also called latch bolts. When engaged, they fit into the strike plate, which is fastened into the door frame. The strike plate has a small notch, or depression, in the center. The metal bolt is held in place by pins. When a key rotates the shaft and tumbler the pins move, which either releases the bolt or retracts it.

Latch Pros and Cons

  • Latches are inexpensive and easy to install, according to the State Farm Insurance website, but they are also the least secure. Spring latches can be triggered with lock picks or even bent wires if a burglar has the requisite skill. Lacking such skill, the burglar might simply smash the doorknob and the latch.

How Deadbolts Work

  • Deadbolts are thicker pieces of metal than spring latches. Made of solid steel, brass or bronze, they extend deeper into the frame of the door -- usually about an inch -- securing the door more tightly than spring latches alone. Deadbolts are manipulated from the outside by a key or from the inside by a rotating switch. The most-secure deadbolts use a key on both the inside and the outside. Like spring latches, they engage or release when the tumbler rotates around and the pins move into position.

Deadbolt Pros and Cons

  • Deadbolts are stronger and heavier than latches, making them harder to pick. A home intruder may attempt to pry the frame of the door open, which may disengage the bolt. To prevent this, you can secure the strike plate with extra-long screws, or you can install a vertical deadbolt, which threads itself vertically through metal rings attached to the door frame. Such deadbolts are more difficult to separate manually from the door frame, according to the State Farm Insurance website.

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