What is a Deadbolt and How Does it Work?

Unfortunately, you are going to really have to consider your family’s security since home break-ins happen frequently.

Whether you’re home or not, burglars are brazen and will try to enter your home and steal your belongings. They might also harm you or your family, too.

10 Tips to Secure Your House and Property from Burglars

That’s why home security is so important.

We are going to talk today about deadbolt locks. It’s one of the easiest ways to increase your safety. A deadbolt will make your entryway stronger and deter criminals from entering the home.

If your security looks formidable, some burglars won’t even try to enter. They’ll move on to other homes. If they try, they’re not going to be able to enter.

Let’s start by answering some common questions about deadbolt locks. You can also navigate to your own burning questions by using the Table of Contents.

Table of Contents

Without further delay, on to the questions!

Can someone break into a deadbolt lock?

There are many ways that burglars can break into a home. They can kick a door, pick a lock using some kind of device, or pry it open with a crowbar.

To stop any of these scenarios, it’s important to have a deadbolt lock. They are strong enough to withstand a strong kick. It also depends on the rating of the lock, which we’ll get to in a few moments. For guarding against a thief picking your lock, you’ll need a deadbolt that is pick resistant.

Thieves can pick your lock with a bump key unless you get a bump-proof lock. Bump-proof locks are ones that can’t be picked because they are keyless entry. There are also some deadbolts that have a complicated system that don’t allow for bump keys.

You can read more about bumping and bump-proof locks in another article we have on the site called “Bump Proof Locks (Our Top 3)“.

Are deadbolt locks illegal?

There are some situations where a tenant might fail inspection for installing certain door locks. A landlord could be in trouble for a certain type of door lock, too.

A double cylinder lock is one that can only be opened with a key from both sides. It can be a dangerous lock for emergency situations. If you needed to get out of your home or apartment quickly, this type of lock could block your exit.

In cases of fire, you’d be stuck trying to find the key to leave your home. That could have dire consequences. Otherwise, deadbolts are not illegal to have.

What are the parts of a deadbolt lock?

Cylinder – The body of the lock is the cylinder. That’s where you insert the key. The cylinder hides the pins that are used to lock the door. When the pins are in a certain position, the door will lock. Pushing the key into the cylinder moves the pins to a “correct” position that allows the door to open.

Bolt – Inside the door, there’s a bolt that moves in and out of the door frame to secure the door closed. A deadbolt has a plunger or guardbolt that stops the lock from being jimmied.

Deadbolt plunger – You might have seen latch or spring style locks that can be jimmied open with a stiff card. That can’t happen with a deadbolt because of the plunger. 

Box and Strike Plate – There’s also a box and strike plate. The bolt front inside the lock extends into the box. It’s the hole that is in the door frame. Around the hole in the door frame is the strike plate. It’s for added reinforcement on the frame.

Types of Deadbolt Locks

There’s a simple one-cylinder deadbolt. That’s a lock that needs a key to open and close it from the outside. On the inside of the home, it’s locked using a simple twist or thumb piece.

With the single-cylinder deadbolt, you don’t want to install on a door with side glass. It would be easy for a thief to break the glass and reach in to unlock the door.

The double-cylinder deadbolt uses a key on both sides. It can be dangerous to use a double-cylinder lock. In case of a fire, you would have to find the key to get out of the home. On the other hand, you’ll be on the ground floor where you’ll have access to windows.

Doors with glass on the side could benefit from double-cylinder locks. It would stop a burglar from getting in simply by breaking the glass.

There are also keyless deadbolts that work electronically. They’re operated using a password or fingerprint scan. The other side is operated with a knob. These are also not good near glass.

What’s the best deadbolt lock?

The best deadbolt lock will make you feel secure. It’s going to come down to what kind of rating you want in your deadbolt. It’ll also depend on whether you are worried about bump keys. 

The best deadbolt locks are resistant to force and have a bump-proof key system. The best deadbolts are made by companies like Kwikset, Yale, Schlage, Gate Smart, and Nest. Those are just a few of the brands you’ll find.

Is Kwikset or Schlage better? 

We’ve done an in-depth review of Kwikset versus Schlage. We found they both had great features.

How can I make my deadbolt more secure?

Securing your deadbolt is all about the hardware that surrounds it. If you have a strong deadbolt, you need a strong frame. You’ll also need a strong door itself. It doesn’t make sense to fasten a strong deadbolt to a flimsy door.

Get a solid-core door for your home. It’s more difficult for thieves to kick open your door with a solid-core one in place. Reinforce the door frame as well. The bolt of the deadbolt has to have a secure place to sit when the door is locked.

Aside from the door itself, you should invest in more security for your home overall. Think about motion lights to illuminate the exterior. Trim back bushes near your first floor windows. Don’t give a thief a hidden place to be sneaky. 

When fixing the front door, don’t forget the back door and windows. You can install window alarms or security bars there for security.

A Few Features of a Secure Deadbolt

Longer Screws

With screws that are around 3 inches, you’ll be getting more resistance to kicks. Kicking the door is one of the easiest ways for burglars to break into the home.

3-inch screws really embed the strike plate into the door frame. It’ll be harder to bust through the door with a reinforced strike plate. Be careful of side lights and windows, though. That can limit the length of the screws.

Longer Bolt

The longer screws in the strike plate are a good base for a longer bolt. A long bolt adds in even more resistance to kicks. Many locks with longer bolts will require a larger bore hole.

It’ll take a few minutes to alter the current one if you’re changing to a 1-inch bolt. That’s one of the larger ones out there on the market, but you can also get some a bit smaller and still have the added security. The longer the bolt, the more security you’ll have.

Low Profile

With a deadbolt, you also have to worry about someone coming along with a wrench and pulling it off the door. A lock with a low profile will be harder to pull from the door. It won’t allow the thief to gain purchase with a wrench.

Along with being harder to pull off the door, low profile locks are also sleeker and better looking. While you want improved security, nobody wants to look like they’re living in a fortified prison.

Keyless Entry

One of the best ways to improve your security is with a keyless entry door lock. These deadbolts are absolutely bump proof because there’s no keyhole.

Without a key cylinder, there’s no way for anyone to use a bump key on it. It’ll relieve you of wondering how many keys are out there, too. You can share access with your family without worrying that they’ll lose keys to thieves. 

You can simply change the access code if there’s ever a problem. It’s an easy way to get security for your home and family.

Do these locks have limitations?

There are a few limitations to the deadbolt lock. With single-cylinder locks, you run the risk of an intruder breaking a side window near the door. If you decide to use a double-cylinder lock, you run a risk if a fire breaks out.

Deadbolts are only as strong as the door and frame they’re connected to. Apartment doors can often be hollow, which makes kicking them down much easier. There might be flimsy frames, too. In a home, you can reinforce the frame and get a solid door.

With key cylinders, you run the risk of a thief using a bump key. These keys force the pins to move and allow the door to be opened. You’d have to consider a bumpless lock if that’s a concern. You might also decide on a safety bar or a keyless entry to further enhance your security. 

You should never leave your safety reliant on one security measure. The security should work in layers from outdoor lights to alarms, cameras, and extra-secure locks.

What is ANSI Grade specification?

The ANSI Grading system has been applied by the American National Standards Institute. It’s a way to standardize builder’s hardware. This is a way for builders to know what kind of lock they should put on a door.

Grade 3 is for basic security in a home. It’s what is used on apartment doors to secure them. You will find them on the interior of the home in bedrooms and bathrooms. They can handle strikes of 75 pounds only twice.

Grade 2 is a higher level of security. It’s the intermediate level, though. You’re getting a good amount of security from this lock. These locks are usually tamper proof. They’re good for apartment building’s outer doors. They’re pretty good for homes, too. They can handle strikes of 75 pounds 5 times. 

Grade 1 is the best locks out there on the market. They’re used for commercial applications that need more security. It makes them superior to locks you might currently have in your home. The Grade 1 lock is bump proof and pick proof. It can handle 6 strikes with 360 pounds of weight.

Is UL listing important?

The UL listing is a security rating from the Underwriters Laboratories. They will test the lock to see if it’s pickable or not. It will be assigned a number that tells you it has passed the tests.

For example, there are Smart key technologies that would receive a UL 437, which means it can’t be picked.


That should answer any question you might have about deadbolt security. You can find more on the site including different locks along with their ANSI rating.

We dig deep into your home security and give you all the information you could possibly need to make an informed decision.

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