Accessible Solutions

Choosing a door lock was once limited by whatever happened to be available. Today, with lock design and functionality varying widely, it’s important to choose the right lock for the purpose, reports Nick Penny.
Door hardware and security products are some of the most important investments consumers should consider when building or renovating their home. Unfortunately, choosing and fitting the right products for the right applications is often neglected or – more often than not – incorrect product is selected, most likely because of a lack of understanding about the vast array of locking products available today. Choosing a lock was once a fairly straightforward procedure. With few competitors in the market, limited function and design options resulted in a relatively simple purchasing decision. Today, hundreds of competitors and thousands of different products with varying quality, security and safety features flood the market. The influx of cheap imports has further exacerbated this situation and today’s consumer can find choosing the right security solution a daunting prospect.

The imbalance between home security requirements for insurance purposes and making sure your family is safe during fires or other emergencies enhances the confusion. The best locking products on the market today strive to combine security, safety and convenience, as well as incorporating advanced home security and safety features. Organisations such as Crime Stoppers are also advocating home security and safety. Crime Stoppers enjoys an enviable level of brand awareness in Australia of around 98% of those surveyed. It also has an umbilical link to police agencies in Australia and around the world.

Whilst a key focus of the Crime Stoppers operations in past years has been crime solving, it has broadened its perspective in recent years to take a pro-active position in crime prevention. To that end, Crime Stoppers has embarked on a campaign to educate the public on crime prevention, including a recent TV campaign featuring the potential dangers of deadbolts in situations such as fire. “Crime prevention tactics are always easier to deploy than having to deal with the fallout of a robbery or criminal incident,” said Peter Price OAM, Chairman of Crime Stoppers Australia/International. “Prevention tactics – especially for your home – are normally quite cost effective, easy to install and may impact on your insurance premium.” Most insurance companies demand that all entrance/exit doors and windows are fitted with key lockable deadlocks. Without these products fitted in homes, insurance premiums are likely to increase.

Unfortunately, robberies and emergencies such as fire are all part of life, leading to the question of what can we do to be better prepared. Equally as important is how we educate consumers on what lock best suits their needs. Deadbolts, deadlocks and locksets – do they know the difference between each?

One of the most important parts of the house is the front door. It needs to be secured with an appropriate locking device fitted. This is the same for all entry doors. A good option is to install a deadbolt lock, which are easy to install and simple to operate. Deadbolts make an excellent deterrent against theft. But you still need to choose the right kind of deadbolt. This is what you should consider:

1) Does the lock meet Australian standards? A lock that meets Australian standards will have been tested for security, durability and corrosion resistance.

2) The lock is only as good as the door it is being fitted to. For external doors, ensure that it is a solid core door with a minimum thickness of 34mm.

3) Another aspect that is often overlooked is the door frame. Higher quality dead bolts that meet Australian standards are supplied with a box strike with concealed cross-grain door frame strengthening screws. This is an integral part of the lock installation, as it provides increased security for the door frame against attack.

4) The locking bolt plays a pivotal role in security so look for products with a counterbalance bolt, a feature that distributes the load evenly between the door and the frame to gain maximum strength. Counterbalance bolts with a box strike also require less timber to be removed from the door frame, providing increased resistance against attack.

5) When fitting a deadbolt, you need to consider door furniture. A good combination is to install back-to-back pull handles with a roller bolt (friction bolt). Pull handles are making their way onto an increasing number of newly-built homes, providing an elegant appearance for any entry point. Alternatively, consider use tubular latches on door furniture. Here, the selection is vast and it is recommended that you match your entry/exit door furniture with what you have chosen for your internal doors.

Rim locks and dead latches (otherwise known as deadlocks) can also used for this application, and there are several choices here. The difference between a deadbolt and a rim lock is this – a rim lock is mounted on the surface of the door, whereas a deadbolt is installed with the bolt mechanism fitted into the door (mortised tubular bolt). While most new-fit lock installation today is either a tubular latch or bolt, rim locks are common in retrofit applications or renovations. The development of rim locks has evolved significantly in recent years. Again, it is important to select a rim lock that meets Australian standards for strength, durability and anti corrosion. There are two types of latches available in the rim lock range – plain latch and dead latch. A dead latch provides extra security – once the door is closed, a small trigger is depressed. This activates the dead latching feature, meaning the bolt can not be pushed back by applying end pressure (otherwise known as the ‘credit card trick’, which involves slipping the card through the door and pushing the latch back).

Rim locks with dead latches can also be key lockable on both sides. Much like the deadbolt range, the door can then be locked on the inside using a key. This is useful when nobody is at home. If that dreaded burglar does get in, they won’t be able to exit through the locked door. Again, make sure the application is fit for purpose. A solid door and a strong frame will assist in providing increased security. Choose a rim lock that has a door frame strengthener and make sure it meets Australian standards. Locksets make up the third choice in securing entry doors. A lockset product provides a lock and handle combination. Normally fitted with a tubular latch, the locking is done via the handle.

Locksets are available with key operation on one side – commonly known as passage set – or they can be key lockable on both sides. Handles can be matched to interior doors, giving a consistent look and feel throughout the home.

For more information on home security, please visit www.police.vic.gov.au or http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/113816/home_safe.pdf For more information on Lockwood products or Australian Standards, visit lockweb.com.au.

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