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Windows present an interesting paradox in terms of security for homes and businesses.
On the one hand, windows are essential for letting in natural sunlight and for ventilating spaces, but this normally means opening them, thereby making the window a potentially vulnerable point of entry.
Window locks are an ideal way of controlling access to your windows that work well in tandem with door locks and other security measures.
What types of window locks are commonly used in the UK and how can you have them installed on your property?
A qualified and experienced residential locksmith can help you select and fit window locks on your property.
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Table of contents:
The most common window locks in the UK
While there is quite a bit of variation in doors used in domestic and commercial applications, there are many different types of windows commonly used in the UK.
With dozens of windows to choose from, the choice of window locks for your windows may seem overwhelming.
Keep in mind, however, that many windows cannot be opened/closed by design and instead only provide aesthetic value (and they let in light). This narrows down the choices quite a bit.
In the UK, the three most popular types of window used today are: sliding sash windows (aka Yorkshire sash windows), pivot windows, modern sliding windows, and hinged casement windows.
Generally, most sliding windows can be locked with a window stopper or a window screw, whereas hinged windows may come with keyed locks.
Hinged latches such as espagnolettes are often used as locks for windows, especially older historic windows.
In terms of window frame and sash materials, most domestic windows are made of UPVC, timber, composite materials, or aluminium.
Most modern homes in the UK and homes built in the late 20th century tend to opt for UPVC. Commercial windows can vary, with some using steel or fibreglass frames and sashes.
The best window locks aren't even found on windows
Security grilles and barriers
Before getting into window locks, it's important first to consider security grilles.
The purpose of a window lock, as opposed to a simple latch, is to prevent unwanted access to the property from the window.
Since windows themselves can be broken, a highly secure method of preventing unwanted access is to install a security grill on the window to prevent entry even if a burglar manages to smash the windowpane.
Security window grilles come in many shapes and sizes and are commonly used in commercial applications, such as to protect a retail shop after closing.
These grilles can be installed indoors or outdoors, as preferred, and can be combined with door grilles as well.
Some are retractable, others can be applied more permanently; most have three-point locking systems that offer unrivalled protection and security.
For homeowners, security grilles can be purchased in powdered white and with ornate styles so as not to look awful.
Many domestic security grilles can be installed as retractable shutters, as well.
Alternative security measures
For many homeowners, security grilles and burglar bars simply aren't visually appealing.
Protecting your windows therefore requires alternative means, such as window locks and other security measures:
Window lock: the focus of this page is to outline window locks.
These locks are designed to allow the window to be locked from the inside in order to prevent unwanted entry from a burglar.
Motion detectors & burglar alarms
Similar to security grilles, motion detectors and burglar alarms are designed to prevent a burglar from approaching the window in the first place.
Laminated safety glass
Although glass can be cut or smashed by a burglar, laminated safety glass makes the task much more frustrating.
Much like how a windscreen (also made of laminated safety glass) is designed to not shatter under impact, a windowpane made of laminated glass is reinforced with a film that does the same.
By not shattering, the window can still break but will remain a significant obstacle for the burglar.
Use obstructions outside of your window
An old-fashioned yet sometimes effective means of deterring burglars is to plant thorny bushes and/or thick vegetation directly outside of the window.
Most burglars, as opposed to the popular caricature, do not come to a property fully prepared for the task at hand and will likely not wear thick clothing to protect against a thorny bush.
Different types of window locks
Although there are many types of window and many window lock types, they can be roughly categorised as follows:
Simple latches are quite common on many older windows and somewhat common on newer windows as well.
Window latches are versatile and can be used on most windows both for allowing proper ventilation in your home whilst also functioning as a sort of manual fastener and lock.
A classic example of a versatile fastener is the espagnolette lock ("little Spaniard" in French).
Sash window locks
Sash windows generally use a simple fastener such as a sash jammer (explained below) and/or a screw lock to prevent unwanted entry.
Sash jammers can loosen over time and with exposure to heat and cold, which can render the windows vulnerable.
Some windows can thus benefit from a sash window lock such as a screw lock which is inserted directly into the window sash or stop and prevents the window from being opened.
A convenient alternative to latches and keyed locks is to install a sash jammer on the window.
These devices are commonly used on UPVC doors and windows as an additional layer of security.
If a lock is broken, the sash jammer is a simple sort of fastener that prevents the door from opening altogether.
Window sash jammers only need a single jammer and prevent entry without having to break the window pane.
Slide window locks
Slides windows tend to be more challenging to install locks and instead tend to use stoppers that are completely compatible with the window's rail design.
Since sliding windows tend to be made of aluminium rather than timber, installing a new lock can be a challenge.
Qualified locksmiths can advise on suitable lock solutions for these types of windows.
Keyed window locks
Windows that are compatible with typical key and lock systems (usually a Yale lock or other small key, e.g. cabinet key or bicycle lock key) can benefit from the added security and peace of mind they bring.
Normally, casement windows that are hinged are best suited to keyed locks.
It may be easy to forget the key inside of the lock, but for your own security it is wise to place the key in a hidden location near the window.
Push bolts, snap locks, handle locks, etc.: there are a myriad of other window locking mechanisms that are often used - too many to list exhaustively.
Many of the locking and fastening systems not mentioned above are locks/latches/fasteners that come with the window itself and their security properties can vary widely from one product to another.
Cost of window lock services in the UK
The cost of installing, repairing, or changing window locks will vary depending on many factors, such as location, labour requirements, and parts.
Generally, the cost of purchasing or repairing window locks in the UK are:
- New window lock installation: £20
- UPVC window lock repairs (with labour): £55
- Sash jammer installation: £10
How long does it take to change window locks?
Depending on the type of lock and its complexity, installing, repairing, or replacing a window lock should take anywhere from around 20-30 minutes by an experienced locksmith.
This can take significantly longer as a DIY project if you lack the skills.
Window locks vs door locks
The most common point of access for burglars in the UK is through a door, but virtually all other burglaries take place through a window.
Keep in mind that in many cases, it isn't "one or the other" so much as that a burglar will often seek the easiest way of entering a property and then try another, i.e. if the burglar attempts at first to enter through the front door only to find it locked securely shut, they may then try a window whilst they're there.
In cases such as this, secure door locks get the job done by deterring the burglar from entering that way, but a window completely ajar or unsecured is an appealing entry point.
No matter how good your door locks are, failure to secure your windows can still lead to burglary.
How strong does a window lock need to be?
While it is important to have some means of protecting your property with quality window locks, there are some things to keep in mind before spending your hard-earned money on the strongest locks money can buy.
Firstly, locks are mostly unnecessary on windows located on higher storeys, i.e. windows not easily accessible to a burglar.
Window locks are necessary on windows that can be accessed by the ground, including basement windows or windows within reach of a tree or other object.
One exception is that children's bedrooms should be equipped with window locks, even if the room is on the second storey or higher up.
In terms of lock quality, however, there is no need to install a lock as strong as a door mortice deadbolt or latch on most windows.
A simple yet strong cylinder keyed lock will provide sufficient protection.
The reason for this is that a window can be smashed or cut with much less difficulty than a typical door, so a persistent burglar may simply break the window regardless of the lock.
Consequently, window locks act as a deterrent to would-be burglars just like door locks, but when push comes to shove, they cannot be as secure as a door with just a lock. In specific circumstances, security grilles and burglar bars are far more reliable at keeping burglars at bay.
Window and lock standards in the UK
Windows and doorsets in the UK, including components such as locks, are subject to many different standards.
Some standards, such as BS3621, are essential for home insurance purposes and pertain to 5 lever mortice locks on external doors.
The Police Service's 'Secured by Design' (SBD) scheme acts as an authority on performance standards for windows and doorsets, including locks.
The standards which they recognise are performed independently (SBD does not carry out testing themselves) and are designed to demonstrate that the window can sustain a burglary attempt with and without tools, including drills.
Some of the key standards for windows and window locks in the UK are:
Widely considered to be the gold seal of window standards, BS7950 has long been recognised as the British Standard for the enhanced security of windows, much like PAS24 for door security and BS3621 for door locks.
More stringent European standards have been introduced, such as EN1627 RC2, however most police still advise homeowners to use BS7950-compliant windows.
BS EN 1906
A European standard for the operation of levers and handles on furniture, including windows. Applies to latches and window fasteners that lock into place.
BS EN 1670
This European standard is useful for windows and window locks in the UK since a compliant window will have sustained corrosion testing with salt. With mould and moisture a persistent problem for many homes in the UK, compliant windows and window products are better able to withstand the elements than those without.
This standard is recognised by SBD for doorsets as well as for windows. PAS24 compliant windows have been certified and tested against burglary attempts using no tools as well as burglary attempts using force as well as power tools to gain entry.
Who can change window locks for me?
Depending on the size and dimensions of your window, as well as the type of window in question, the type of lock best suited for your home or business can vary significantly.
Whereas simple latches or screw locks can be installed on certain types of window frames with relatively little skill, more secure keyed locking systems or sliding window locks generally require an experienced locksmith in order to be installed efficiently and securely.
Moreover, some insurance providers require that your property be secure with standards-compliant locks, such as BS3621 door locks.
If your window locks need to be compliant, it is important that you have them installed professionally.
Frequently asked questions about window locks
What types of window locks are available in the UK?
There are many different types of window locks used in homes and businesses in the UK.
Some common examples of window locks include sash window locks, sash jammers, hinge bolts, espagnolettes, sliding window locks, hinge bolts, and casement window locks.
How can I determine if a window lock is secure enough for my home or business?
Generally, you should look for window locks that are compliant with BS7950 or at least one of the other standards mentioned above.
Window locks should be strong enough to repel unwanted forced entry and to act as a deterrent to burglary and property crime.
Can I install window locks myself, or do I need to hire a professional locksmith?
Many windows come with their own locks, which may or may not be sufficient for your needs.
If you wish to have additional locks installed on your windows, it is often best to consult with a professional locksmith in the UK in order to ensure they are installed properly and provide maximum security benefits for your property.
How often should I replace my window locks?
Window locks tend to be quite durable and resistant to wear and tear, but you should consider replacing them if ever they have become damaged due to a burglary attempt or if you've lost or misplaced your keys.
It is also advised that you replace your window locks if you change your home or business address.
Can a locksmith make a key for my existing window lock?
If your window lock has a key, most qualified locksmiths in the UK can create a duplicate key or cut a brand new original key for most window locks.
If the lock has been lost or misplaced, however, it is recommended that you have the lock replaced or rekeyed by a professional locksmith.
How can I improve the security of my window locks?
Window locks can provide excellent security for your windows, but if you wish to upgrade the security of your windows then you may wish to consider installing ancillary locks, British Standards-compliant locks, as well as installing a window bar or security grille on the interior or exterior of the window.
Window locks repair services: Closing thoughts
Here are some tips for choosing and installing window locks:
- Windows are a vulnerable point of entry for burglars.
- There are many types of window locks available.
- The cost of window locks varies.
- Window locks are not as secure as door locks.
- Security grilles and burglar bars may be more reliable.
- Use window locks in conjunction with other security measures.
- Inspect and maintain window locks regularly.
- Hire a qualified locksmith for professional installation.
Get quotes from residential or commercial locksmiths near you.