Deadlocks, Deadbolts and Dead Latches: The Differences Explained

In the world of locks, ‘deadlock’, ‘deadbolt’ and ‘dead latch’ are common terms.


In the world of locks, ‘deadlock’, ‘deadbolt’ and ‘dead latch’ are common terms. All of them have their own unique functionality, but what exactly are the differences and benefits of each, and which to choose to suit your individual security needs?

What are Deadlocks?

Jeremiah and Charles Chubb first invented the deadlock as we know it today during the early 19th century. The brothers went on to found the Chubb company in 1820, now renowned for its lock brands across the world.

A deadlock is a type of lock that can only be unlocked using a key when in deadlock mode. Standard deadlocks have keyholes on both sides, which means if you lock the door when you are inside, you will need the key to get out.

Deadlock mode renders the lock inoperable, making it more difficult for thieves to enter, and also to escape.

Whilst deadlocks are effective, they need to be used with caution. Whilst you are at home, be sure not to keep the lock in deadlock mode as it could prevent a swift exit in the case of an emergency should you not be able to locate the key. If you do wish to keep the deadlock mode on, make certain you have your keys handy and that everyone knows where to find them.

Escape deadlocks use the same principle as the deadlock, the difference being that on the internal side of the door, a knob or lever is fitted that can be used to lock or unlock the door without the need for a key. Escape deadlocks are mostly used for communal doors in multiple occupancy properties where there needs to be a straightforward emergency escape route.

A bathroom deadlock is a specialist type of deadlock that can be locked from the inside but not the outside. These can be fitted with a handle to lock the door for ease of use.

Rim deadlocks are specially designed to fit thinner doors. A standard deadlock can only be fitted to doors that are a minimum of 35mm in thickness. This type of lock tends to come into its own for older style doors, particularly those within listed or heritage buildings. They can also be used to secure garden gates.

What is a dead latch?

A dead latch is similar to a deadlock, but with added functionality.

Where deadlocks require a key or knob to set the deadlock mode, dead latches incorporate their own security latches, allowing them to lock automatically behind you once the door is closed. This provides added convenience and peace of mind, knowing that you cannot forget to lock the door. Of course, it also means that you must never forget to take your keys with you when you leave the house.

Dead latches tend to have three modes:

  • Passage mode – where the latch is open and the door can be opened and closed easily.
  • Safety mode – where the lock and handle will automatically lock when the door is closed. A key is required to unlock the door from the inside. 
  • Secure mode – where the lock can only be opened from the outside or inside of the door.

A modern dead latch will include an anti-deadlock device. These are designed to unlock the inside dead latch system once you arrive home and unlock the door.

What is a deadbolt?

A deadbolt works in a similar way to a deadlock where functionality is concerned. It is a type of lock that needs a key to lock and unlock it.

Deadbolts tend to be installed on doors that are fitted with doorknob sets. They usually have a single metal locking bolt that protrudes from the door and into the wall. This makes it almost impossible for an intruder to force the door open.

A deadbolt is designed to enhance door security, especially when there is no one at home. Most people use a deadbolt during the night, or when they go out. In the same vain as deadlocks, it is wise not to keep a deadbolt in lock mode whilst you are at home, as you will need a key to exit, which could be risky in an emergency.

Need professional help in choosing the right lock for your needs? Talk to Barry Bros Security.

Choosing the right lock for your needs depends on your individual security risk, the type of property you wish to secure and the type of door the lock will be fitted to. Taking professional advice from an accredited locksmith is vital if you are going to make the right decision, because the security of your property depends upon it.

Barry Bros Security is Master Locksmith Association, Guild of Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) and BS EN ISO9001 accredited. As well as supplying a comprehensive range of quality locks from leading brands in our London showroom, we also offer an expert lock installation service.

Our security specialists are on hand to provide in-depth advice and are able to design bespoke locking systems to suit specific needs. Contact us or visit our showroom today; we look forward to being of assistance.

How Can We Help?

Regardless of the type of premises you are looking to protect, Barry Bros Security has the solution. Contact us today for expert advice and the benefit of decades of experience in the security industry.