Home and business security are paramount for keeping you and anyone and anything inside safe and sound. Securing your home or business involves many different strategies, but perhaps the most practical and effective means of security comes in the form of locks. What are the best locks to have on your property and how can you evaluate your options when there are thousands to choose from?
Evaluate your security needs
The best locks for your home or business depend on many variables. Some key considerations include:
- Location: cities and neighbourhoods with a high propensity for domestic burglary and property crime may have higher security needs than quieter and more peaceful neighbourhoods where crime is less common.
- Commercial or domestic: while all locks should provide adequate safety for homeowners, tenants, or business owners, the types of locks and the security requirements may differ.
- Door material: wooden doors, composite doors, UPVC doors, and all other doors (and windows) have different types of locks that may or may not be compatible with all door materials and thicknesses.
- Security needs: in some circumstances, only the very best locks will do to protect individuals and valuables inside the property. In other circumstances, ‘good enough’ is acceptable for all-purpose property security.
- Size and type of property: flats and small detached homes may only need one or two high-quality locks, whereas larger properties such as warehouses and universities may require more complex systems such as electronic access control and master key systems.
- Cost: high-quality British Standards approved locks tend to cost more than locks that do not meet standards, whilst more advanced remote access and master key systems may cost more to install and setup. Balance your security needs within your budget constraints.
- Convenience & features: some property owners may want keyless systems (e.g. Airbnb hosts) whereas others may want locks with manual locking mechanisms and traditional keys. Modern lock and key systems, especially electronic access systems, are increasingly coming with added features and functionality such as webcams and phone app & SMS integrations.
These are some of the most important factors to consider when looking for new locks for your home or business. Whether you’re moving into a new home or simply want to upgrade your property security, your decision should be based on these factors and a consultation with a local residential or commercial locksmith near you. Many of the locksmiths featured on Rated Locksmiths provide free security surveys and inspections for their customers, and their industry knowledge and insight can help you make a more informed decision.
Property crime in the UK
To give an impression of how prevalent property crime such as burglary is in the UK, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has been tracking trends in burglary, theft, and other crimes for many decades. Generally, property crime has seen a steadily decreasing trend over the past 30 years.
Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 27 April 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Crime in England and Wales, year ending December 2022
Whilst the CSEW data is helpful for determining trends in domestic burglary (in this case, decreasing as shown by the baby blue line), it does not take into consideration non-residential property crime. Police recorded crime, on the other hand, does. The combined residential and non-residential burglary offences reported by the police were 271,519 in 2022, a 28% decrease from 2020.
A decrease in property crime should not be an excuse to be lax on property security, however. Most property crimes in the UK are caused by opportunistic criminals, meaning that the crime is normally not premeditated and a criminal will attempt to burglarise a home or business if they have reason to believe that entry is easy and nobody is present.
The best locks for your home or business
The best locks for your home or business will be whichever locks provide the optimal level of desired security for your circumstances. As such, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all best lock for every situation.
Keep in mind that Rated Locksmiths is not sponsored by any lock brands and the recommendations come from experienced domestic and commercial locksmiths in the UK that may or may not be sponsored by lock manufacturers.
Generally, however, the best locks for homes and residential properties tend to be:
- Wooden doors: a 5-lever mortice lock compliant with BS3621 provides top-notch security, especially when combined with a night latch and optionally reinforcing the door when possible. Brands that offer high-quality mortice locks include Union (previously Chubb), Securefast, Era, and many others.
- Composite & UPVC doors: since mortice locks are often incompatible with composite and UPVC doors due to thickness, Euro cylinder locks are often preferred. Look for TS007, SS312 Diamond Approved Lock Cylinders, and/or 3 Star Diamond Sold Secure Rated locks with anti-snap cylinder mechanisms.
- Windows: while not as essential as door locks, window locks are important for additional security. Look for windows that come with Secured by Design approved glazing product and consider sash jammers on existing windows.
- Patio/French/Sliding doors: an often vulnerable point of entry into a home, sliding, patio, and French doors (especially if glazed) should be secured. Popular options include simple latches, bolts, and security bars that prevent the door from being dismounted from its frame. Additional glazing can also deter burglary attempts.
- Keyless doors: modern electronic and digital keyless lock systems are quite popular now in the UK. For keyless entry systems, consult reviews and consumer reports about the manufacturer and the specific product. While there is no need for key cutting, it is essential that a keyless lock is fully secure and can be programmed by the user to issue/discontinue a password, for example.
Many locksmiths in the UK can also upgrade and fit high-security locks from brands such as Mul-T-Lock, Yale, and Brisant which meet the highest standards and offer the maximum possible security. While robust and effective, these locks and high-security keys can be rather expensive, however.
For commercial properties such as offices, retail shops, warehouses, and more, the best locks tend to be:
- Exterior doors: most commercial properties tend to use high-quality deadbolts, deadlatches, or hookbolt cases and use a screw-in cylinder or a Euro cylinder lock mechanism. Many are compatible with electronic access systems. Consider the more frequent use of these doors and opt for better materials that offer greater durability and security.
- Internal doors: depending on your business operations, you may wish to opt for tiered access such as private offices, storage rooms, or server rooms, for example. Internal doors must therefore offer high levels of security as well as variable access, which is why electronic access control and master key systems tend to be popular choices in offices and many other businesses.
- Windows: commercial businesses with windows accessible to the public should be adequately secured. Security grilles and foldable shutters are popular and can be highly effective, especially for high street shops where vandalism or burglary may be a risk. Combine these security features with CCTV & burglar alarm systems for the best effect.
- Gates & car parks: commercial properties with car parking and/or fences & gates should consider investing in high-quality gate locks to deter unwanted entry after-hours.
There are many other types of locks used in commercial businesses, such as desk and cabinet locks, padlocks, bicycle locks, and more. Consult with a qualified commercial locksmith to have your business surveyed and to identify any flaws or vulnerabilities with your property’s security.
More information on keys and locks commonly used in the UK can be found on our comprehensive guide to locksmithing in the UK.
Lock standards in the UK
One of the single most important considerations to make when shopping for the best locks for your home or business is whether or not the lock is compliant with relevant standards.
Depending on the lock and its purpose, locks for homes and businesses may need to be upgraded to Insurance Approved locks in order to comply with property insurance requirements. Locks sold at retail may or may not be Insurance Approved, so it is worth spending some time shopping around for Insurance Approved locks for points of entry such as the front door, for example.
Front doors for homes should always be compliant with the main standards depending on the type of door and lock used. Wooden doors with 5-lever mortice locks should always be BS3621 approved. These locks can be identified by the visible BSI Kitemark found on the lock itself, usually with the engraving “BS3621:2007,” for example. These locks have been tested to high standards such as PAS24 for their strength and resistance to drilling, which places the standard higher than those found in European locks.
Composite and UPVC doors and their compatible locks should comply with the SS312 Diamond Approved standard or TS007 standard. For the latter, the TS007 BSI Kitemark can help you identify whether a specific lock product is standards-compliant.
For other locks such as window locks, security grilles and shutters, and cabinet locks, for example, it is essential to exercise due diligence and to shop for the most durable and secure locks for your security needs. The Secured by Design scheme is a good place to start when researching approved lock products, and consulting with a qualified locksmith for a security survey can be certainly worth looking into.
What to look for in a quality lock
Below are some general tips on what to look for in a quality lock for your home or business:
- Durability: consider materials such as reinforced stainless steel and heavy-duty zinc castings for door locks as well as other durable materials for other locks. Consider wear and tear, especially for commercial locks, to get the most durability and resilience to burglary attempts.
- Ease of use & access: if a lock is too complicated to use easily, it might not be the best choice for convenience. Keyless locks can be helpful for those that lose or misplace keys, for example, and they tend to be highly versatile for businesses in particular, but a simple mortice lock and night latch might be simple and straightforward for homeowners. Preferences vary depending on needs and the individual.
- Ability to control keys & access: depending on who needs to access the property, you may wish to go for physical keys or instead choose a keyless entry system. Letting agencies, commercial businesses, and university accommodations, for example, may find it more secure and affordable to install digital keypads to avoid having to constantly replace and duplicate keys.
- Cost-benefit vs security: not every home or business can afford giant bank vaults to safeguard their property, and indeed in many cases spending more may not yield much greater security. Weigh the cost of new locks vs the anticipated security needs and shop accordingly.
How to improve security in conjunction with upgraded locks
Although we mentioned previously that locks are the most important way to secure your home or business, additional security features can have greatly enhanced effects on protecting the property. Neighbourhood Watch promotes the burglary prevention security actions with WIDE(N) (windows, interior, doors, exterior, neighbours).
Studies have proven that layering security features such as installing window sash jammers, using intermittent light switches to give the impression that someone is home, planting shrubs near low windows, installing CCTV & burglar alarm systems, and trusting your neighbours can greatly reduce the incidences of burglary. As mentioned, most burglars in the UK are opportunistic, and these types of burglars will surely be disincentivised to attempt breaking into a property with multiple security features using the WIDE(N) action plan.
How to have the best locks installed in your home or business
The best locks in the world won’t do you any good whilst they’re sitting on a shelf or in a box. It is possible to DIY install door locks and other locks, but there is a risk that you could damage the door jamb and your property in the process as well as improperly fitting the lock. This, in turn, could cause a massive security vulnerability and could invalidate any insurance claims if it is discovered that you installed the locks yourself.
Instead, consider hiring a professional domestic or commercial locksmith near you by using Rated Locksmiths. Local locksmiths can professionally install all manner of locks, including their own approved locks sourced from reputable manufacturers or your own locks if you’ve decided to go ahead and purchase them online, for example.
Once your locks have been installed, don’t hesitate to ask for a security survey. Business owners in particular should get routine security checks for their business premises. This involves inspecting the locks, CCTV & alarm system, electronic access control, and any other security features your business is (or isn’t) using so that you can take action.
Get the best locks from the best locksmiths in the UK at Rated Locksmiths
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to upgrading the security of your home or business, locks being the most important consideration. The amount of choices can be overwhelming, and knowing which lock is the best for your specific circumstances can be far more challenging than anticipated.
When in doubt, consult with a professional locksmith. The locksmiths found here on Rated Locksmiths provide a wide range of residential and commercial locksmith services including 24/7 emergency lockout assistance, key cutting and key duplication, lock repair and replacement, and much more.