Replacement Door Locks

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Here are a few key points:

  • There are 2 main types of door locks in UK: cylinder and lever.
  • Euro cylinder locks are the most common.
  • Mortice locks are more secure.
  • The cost of changing door locks varies.
  • It takes 20-30 mins to change a door lock.

Your home is your castle. Whether that castle is indeed a large estate or a small flat doesn't matter so long as it's protected with good, secure door locks to prevent unwanted entry and protect your valuables.

What are the different types of door locks used in the UK and how do they differ from one another in functionality, appearance, and security?

How should you choose a door lock for your home or business?

How much does it cost to install, repair, or change door locks in the UK and how long does it generally take?

A qualified locksmith near you can help you keep your property secure under lock and key with a wide range of valuable services.

Below is a general overview of door locks and the types of services that a locksmith can provide to secure your property.

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Table of contents:

Door lock

Replacement door locks: Most common door locks in the UK

There are many different types of lock that can be found on doors in the UK.

Heritage homes and historic National Trust buildings sometimes have old ward locks still in use, other buildings may use high-tech security locks such as biometric and keyless entry systems.

By far, the most common door locks found in homes in the UK come down to two main types:

Cylinder locks/pin tumbler locks aka "Yale locks"

Invented in 1861 by American engineer Linus Yale Jr. in its modernised form, uses 5-6 pins that are pressed up when the correct key is inserted.

Most pin tumbler locks are used with cylindrical lock mechanisms, e.g. Euro cylinder locks & multi-point locking systems.

Lever locks aka "Chubb locks"

Similar in many ways to the pin tumbler lock technology, lever locks use a set of levers (usually between 2-5) that are lifted and subsequently turn the bolt when the correct key is inserted and turned.

Lever locks are found on approximately half of all homes in the UK, although cylinder locks are becoming increasingly popular in modern homes.

The choice of lock technology depends on many factors, such as the desired level of security, type of door (external door vs internal door), accessibility, insurance requirements, and the width and material of the door.

Most doors in the UK are made of either UPVC, aluminium, timber, or composite materials.

Mortice locks vs non-mortice locks

Mortice locks

It is commonly believed that mortice locks are a type of locking mechanism when in fact a mortice lock is more so a carpentry/millwright term denoting the placement of a lock within a door.

A mortice ('mortise' in US English) is a rectangular hole which is cut directly into the door.

The lock is engaged with either a simple latch, a deadbolt, or a combination of a latch and deadbolt as shown in the below image.

When both a latch (top of photo) and deadbolt (bottom of photo) are used together, the lock is called a sashlock.

The latch and/or deadbolt protrude by around 12-20mm from the case directly into the boxkeep, which must be installed directly in the doorjamb, thereby locking the door securely shut.

Mortice locks can provide a number of excellent security features, especially if they are built in conformance with British Standards.

Most insurers require that homeowners have at least a 5 lever mortice lock installed on their front door at a minimum.

These locks are typically only found on timber, composite, or aluminium doors - not UPVC.

Moreover, the door must typically be no less than 44mm wide in order to support the lock case. Doors thinner than 44mm may be fitted with mortice locks with a reinforcing kit at additional expense.

Non-mortice locks

Any lock that does not use a mortice within the door frame can be put under the rather large umbrella of non-mortice locks.

These include cylinder locks with the lock mechanism affixed directly onto the door itself.

Cupboards, wardrobe, filing cabinet, desk drawers and many internal doors in domestic and commercial applications use non-mortice locks.

Essentially, the key difference is that the locking mechanism does not need to be completely inserted into the door's mortice - perhaps just a latch/deadbolt is engaged while the remainder of the lock is found on the surface of the door.

For this reason, non-mortice locks are generally found in settings where the level of security required may not be as high, such as in a bedroom or bathroom.

For external doors, however, mortice locks are generally preferred or even required, depending on the setting.

Different types of door locks

The types of door lock most commonly used in the UK can be further broken down from the two main types, cylinder and lever locks, to the following:

5-lever mortice lock

Most homes in the UK use 5-lever mortice locks as the standard for external front and back doors.

Almost exclusively found on timber doors, not on UPVC or composite doors.

5 Lever mortice locks are located directly inside the door (not on the surface) and the faceplate inside the door should always indicate the number of levers used.

These locks tend to be far more secure than 3-lever mortice locks, especially if they conform to BS3621. These locks tend to use traditional Chubb keys.

3 Lever mortice sashlocks: ideal for internal doors, e.g. bathrooms and bedrooms.

Commonly locked with thumb-turn mechanisms or with Chubb keys and have either 2 or 3 lever mechanisms.

Euro cylinder lock

Most modern homes in the UK are now being equipped with Euro cylinder locking mechanisms, rivalling the traditional popularity of the Chubb key and mortice lock.

Euro cylinder locks tend to be used in multi-point locking systems for UPVC and composite doors although they can be used with mortice locks on other door materials as well.

Typically opened with a standard Yale key.

May be prone to snapping. Look for SS312 diamond-approved Euro cylinder locks for top-notch security.

Multi-point locking system

Typically using a single Euro cylinder locking mechanism, multi-point locking systems use 3, 4, or 5 bolts which are engaged after locking.

These locks are fairly common for external front and back doors made of UPVC and composite doors and are quite difficult to force, although they have some notable downsides as well such as fewer locks on the door and more complex operation.

Night latch

Standard rim and deadlocking night latches add security and peace of mind for doors facing the outside.

Many use snib buttons that enable the latch to be locked from the inside, preventing the lock from being used from the outside.

Most night latches come with 5 or 6 pin mechanisms and use standard Yale keys to open.

Digital door locks

Modern digital door locks are either mechanical or electronic in operation.

Mechanical keypad doors are common in many commercial applications whereas electronic door locks include keypad, key fob, key card,
Bluetooth-compatible, and smartphone app entry methods.

The only thing most digital door locks have in common is that they do not require a traditional key to enter.

Keys and door locks

For non-digital door locks, there are many different types of key and key profile (escutcheon) that can be used.

As mentioned above, Yale and Chubb keys are amongst the most commonly seen types of key. The most common escutcheons (the faceplate covering where you put the key) are the standard and Euro key profiles, with oval key profiles being somewhat common on older buildings.

Generally, Chubb keys are used in standard key profiles in mortice lever locks on external doors and for some internal doors; Yale keys are commonly used in Euro and oval key profiles for Euro cylinder locks and multi-point locking systems on some external doors and internal doors.

Cost of door lock services in the UK

Changing door locks

Property owners may wish to change their door locks for many reasons.
A locksmith can change door locks professionally to ensure that the old lock is safely dismantled and a new lock can be fitted to the door.

Costs can vary widely depending on whether the lock needs to conform to British Standards, where you are located, labour, call-out fees, parts, and the type of door. Approximate costs are:

  • Euro cylinder locks: £85
  • Mortice locks: £115
  • Night latches: £90

Repairing door locks

It may be cheaper to repair the locking mechanism such as the gearbox than to completely replace your existing lock if it is damaged.

The approximate costs to have a locksmith repair your door locks are:

  • Internal door lock repairs: £45
  • External door lock repairs: £65

Replacing door locks

Property owners with reasonable DIY skills and tools may wish to attempt to replace door locks themselves.

The cost of purchasing replacement door locks can vary depending on the product, delivery fees, and whether or not the product must adhere to British Standards.

Approximate costs are:

  • Standard Euro cylinder lock: £20
  • Anti-snap Euro cylinder lock: £50
  • 3 Lever mortice deadlock: £18
  • 5 Lever mortice deadlock: £20
  • BS3621 approved 5 lever mortice deadlock: £30
  • Night latch: £25

There are many reputable suppliers of door and window locks in the UK, but it is generally advised that you get a quote from a qualified locksmith to have the product installed professionally - even if you have purchased the lock yourself.

How long does it take to change door locks?

It generally takes around 20-30 minutes to replace a door lock, but keep in mind that this can vary quite a bit and should be taken with a pinch of salt:

  • Euro cylinder locks: around 20 minutes.
  • Mortice locks: around 30 minutes.

Generally, the longest part of replacing a door lock is removing the existing lock(s) from the door.

Moreover, some doors such as big timber doors or aluminium doors may require additional labour to fit certain types of lock.

Always obtain a quote from a locksmith beforehand so that you don't spend more than anticipated.

Door locks vs window locks

Two of the most critical points of access to a home are from the windows and doors, so both are often talked about similarly in terms of home security.

Provided that your home is secured with robust door locks, most burglars won't bother trying the front door and will instead consider the windows, which is why window locks are essential for home security.

In brief, the very best door locks will not be of much use if burglars can instead freely pass through a window lacking good security measures.

Do not neglect the importance of window locks as part of a complete home defence against burglary and property crime.

Door and lock standards in the UK

"They don't build them like they used to" isn't always a correct, axiomatic statement.

In the UK, massive booms in residential construction from the 1960s to the 1980s led to many homes and tenement flats being rushed - "haste makes waste" is perhaps a better expression…

The reduced quality of building also came with many security flaws, as burglars were often able to break into a home with relative ease.

Consequently, the Police Service launched the 'Secured by Design' (SBD) initiative in 1989 to combat the rampant property crime taking place.
The SBD scheme establishes extensive testing and certification processes for doors, windows, and much more.

Doors and windows produced and manufactured in accordance with the scheme must conform to a number of British Standards (BS) and/or Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) and have been tested against things like attempted burglary (with and without tools, including drills), fire, corrosion resistance, and so on.

Once a product has sufficiently been tested and granted certification (e.g. PAS24 for doorsets and windows), SBD will then consider the product for approval.

There are many different standards that are recommended or required for doors, particularly external doors in domestic settings.

Some of the most common standards for door locks include:

  • BS3621 Thief-resistant lock assembly. Key egress: often required (or at least recommended) for 5 lever mortice locks and cylinder rim locks on external front or rear doors for home insurance. Note that some locks may conform to EN 12209, a European Union standard that is often considered equivalent to BS3621 to home insurance providers. BS3621 conforming 5 lever mortice locks are Insurance Approved, and when installed by a reputable locksmith, provide superb security.
  • BS8621 Thief resistant – Keyless exit: commonly required on doors used by multiple households, BS8621 conforming locks that enable residents to unlock the door from the inside without a key.
  • BS10621 Thief resistant – Dual mode lock assembly: for large tenement flats and multi-unit dwellings, BS10621 conforming locks are essentially the same as BSS8621 conforming locks with the only change being the addition of a thumbturn locking mechanism from the outside. BS10621 locks are appropriate whenever the resident of a flat or unit has an alternate means of escaping the unit (e.g. during a fire) aside from the main entrance door.
  • PAS24:2022: an overall minimum SBD standard for doorsets (including locks), PAS24 certified door locks are required in all new residential builds in the UK. Commercial buildings are exempt from PAS24 but may need to comply with Secured by Design.

Insurance approved locks

Most home insurance providers in the UK require substantial information in order to provide coverage to their clients.

For example, failure to keep your doors locked during a burglary can invalidate a claim.

When it comes to door locks, most insurance providers require that either your front door or both your front and back door to your home be equipped with BS3621 conforming locks, particularly 5 lever mortice locks at a bare minimum.

These are known as Insurance Approved locks and are essential for property owners that want the full peace of mind knowing that their doors are secure.

In order to determine whether a lock conforms to BS3621, look for the below kitemark symbol on your door:

Replacing door locks vs rekeying

It is often thought that property owners should replace their door locks following a burglary or after a tenant has moved out and perhaps lost their keys and you suspect they might still have them, for example.

There are many circumstances whereby replacing the locks altogether (and using a new set of keys, as well) is justified.

Property owners may also wish to consider asking a locksmith for rekeying services.

Rekeying achieves many of the same goals (e.g. tenant 'misplaced' a key or you suspect someone has duplicated your key without consent) as changing the locks, but without the need to replace the lock itself.

Instead, the lock mechanism is adjusted so that the old keys no longer work.
A locksmith can then cut a whole new set of keys matching the newly adjusted locks.

Replacing door locks is sometimes better for property owners that wish to upgrade their current security measures.

If you are in doubt, speak with a qualified and reputable locksmith near you.

Who can change door locks for me?

Changing door locks can be done by yourself, although the amount of skill and labour required can vary quite a bit.

Moreover, a complete lack of understanding of the door lock mechanism and how it must be fitted (e.g. into a mortice) can lead to you damaging your door and property and/or having a lock that is improperly fitted and perhaps vulnerable.

It is therefore almost always best to consult a professional locksmith rather than attempting any DIY door lock replacement, especially for external doors on domestic and commercial buildings.

Tinkering with a bathroom door lock is okay; replacing a mortice lock on your historic timber door - leave it to the professionals.

Frequently asked questions about door locks

What are the different types of door locks available in the UK?

Most door locks found in the UK are either mortice locks, nightlatches, deadlocks, Euro cylinder locks, or multi-point locking systems, depending on the door and the intended usage.

All of these locks have their own benefits and features, but the most commonly recommended lock for a front door is a 5-lever mortice lock compliant with BS3621.

How can I determine if a door lock is secure enough for my home or business?

A lock should be strong enough to prevent unwanted entry, but some of the key things to look for in a secure lock are whether or not it is compliant with BS3621 or PAS24 standards, if the supplier is reputable and the brand is well-known for having durable and high-quality locks, as well as any additional security features you desire for your door, e.g. anti-drill locks.

Can I install door locks myself, or do I need to hire a professional locksmith?

Some door locks can be installed as a DIY project with the correct tools and knowledge, but you could end up damaging your door or even invalidating your home or business insurance if it is discovered that you did not install them professionally.

It is therefore recommended that you leave the task of door lock installation to a qualified and experienced residential or commercial locksmith.

How often should I replace my door locks?

Door locks tend to be quite durable and resistant to wear and tear, so it is often far more likely that you will need to replace them if they've been damaged or if you are moving to a new home or business address.

Moreover, you should replace the locks if you have lost your keys as a burglar may have access to your property.

Can a locksmith make a key for my existing lock?

A qualified and experienced locksmith in the UK should be able to cut or duplicate a new key for an existing lock.

In the vast majority of circumstances, the lock will not need to be replaced, but it is nevertheless a good idea to replace the lock anyway for security reasons.

How can I improve the security of my door locks?

In order to improve and upgrade the security of your property, you may wish to consider installing additional locks such as nightlatches or deadbolts.

Also ensure that your door locks are BS3621 compliant. Shop owners may wish to consider adding security bars or grilles to the windows or a collapsible awning covering the door altogether when the business is closed.

Generally, it is best to layer security features to deter burglary and property crime.

Replacement door locks: Closing thoughts

Here are some tips for choosing and installing door locks:

  • Choose a lock for your security need.
  • Make sure the lock is compatible with your door.
  • Keep spare keys in a safe place.
  • Have your locks inspected regularly.
  • Get a quote from a locksmith today.

Get quotes from residential or commercial locksmiths nearby.