It’s no secret that people rely on locks to protect their property. But did you know that there are different types of locks? Each type of lock has its own unique purpose and offers a different level of security. Here is an overview of the most common types of locks.

When choosing locks for your home or business, you might get overwhelmed by the number of options out there. There are different security factors you need to weigh, aside from the different functions that different locks serve.

 Types of locks

The most common types of locks are padlocks, deadbolts, knob locks, and lever handle locks. These different types of locks serve different purposes.


Padlocks are some of the most recognizable and commonly used locks out there. They come in a wide range of sizes and in two varieties: keyed and combination. Keyed padlocks can either be re-keyable or not re-keyable— depending on the kind you get. Combination locks come with a series of number dials that become unlocked when the correct combination is entered.


Deadbolts are usually installed on exterior doors and are a little more complicated than padlocks. There are three main types of deadbolt locks: single, double, and lockable thumb-turn. American households typically use single-cylinder deadbolts.

Knob Locks

Knob locks are very frequently installed on exterior doors along with deadbolts, and sometimes are used as the main security source for doors. In reality, knob locks really shouldn’t be used for security on exterior doors. These can easily be broken off using a hammer or bypassed with a wrench or pliers.

Lever Handle Locks

Lever handle locks are more secure than knob locks and are typically used on exterior doors. They are harder to break into than knob locks and can’t be easily bypassed.

Cam Locks

Cam locks are frequently found in filing cabinets, mailboxes, and lower-security applications. They operate with a rotating bar mechanism—a “cam”—which is turned by the key to lock and unlock. While they provide basic security and are quite affordable, they are not recommended for protecting high-value items due to their relatively simple locking mechanism which can be susceptible to picking.

Smart Locks

In the digital age, smart locks have emerged as a sophisticated alternative to traditional mechanical locks. These locks can be operated via smartphones, keypads, or biometrics, offering users the convenience of keyless entry and the ability to remotely manage access. Smart locks often come with features such as entry logs, temporary access codes, and integration with home automation systems. However, their reliance on technology and power means they may be vulnerable to technical malfunctions and hacking.

Mortise Locks

Used primarily in commercial settings and on many older residential doors, mortise locks are known for their durability and reliability. These locks require a pocket—the mortise—to be cut into the door where the lock is fitted. They typically offer a higher level of security than cylindrical locks and are often found in buildings with heavy door usage.

Security Considerations

When selecting a lock, it’s crucial to consider the lock’s grade. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) assigns grades to locks (Grade 1 being the highest), which indicate the lock’s ability to withstand wear and tear, and attempts at forced entry. Higher-grade locks are recommended for exterior doors.

Installation and Maintenance

Proper installation and maintenance are vital to ensuring the effectiveness of any lock. Even the highest-grade lock can fail if not installed correctly or if it’s poorly maintained. It’s advisable to consult with a professional locksmith when installing new locks or assessing the security of existing ones.

In conclusion, while the basic function of locks has remained the same—to provide security—their forms and features have evolved. Whether you choose a traditional deadbolt or a high-tech smart lock, the key to security lies in choosing the right lock for the right application and maintaining it well. This comprehensive understanding of the various types of locks and their specific uses helps ensure that your property is as secure as possible.