As I noted in an earlier post, the deadbolt is the part of your lockset that keeps your door secure from intruders. The handle, either lever or knob, could be keyed but the latching mechanism is angled or rounded, which allows ease of being latched without turning the lever. This also allows ease of use for intruders gaining access For this reason, entry knobs or levers are usually sold or paired with a deadbolt.
There was an earlier post where I explained grades of locks and deadbolts. You can read it here for more information but basically locks are graded 1 to 3 with 1 being best for being able to withstand the most abuse, whether by use or attack and being pick-resistant. This is important when discussing deadbolts – if someone is attempting to break-in, the deadbolt should be able to hold up to the force or tampering.
As a side note, but just as important – if you’re putting a new dead bolt on an exterior door and that door is hollow core and not either solid wood or insulated hollow metal, get a new door with the new deadbolt. A wood hollow core door is just that, hollow, and only a piece of Styrofoam is in the core of that door and provides no resistance whatsoever. These doors can easily be busted through and the best deadbolt will not help.
This is a list of the best deadbolts for your front entry doors. These conventional, mechanical deadbolts are at least $60 less than the electronic deadbolts but provide security just as good provided you don’t mind using a key.
Best Overall Deadbolt
For just plain security, the Schlage B60N Single Cylinder Deadbolt is the one. It is an ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 certified deadbolt with a keyed exterior and a thumbturn on the interior. It doesn’t have the re-key ability of the Kwikset but because it is a certified Grade 1 deadbolt is just as pick-resistant as the Kwikset.
The Schlage deadbolt comes with a reinforced strike plate making the door harder to be kicked in. It has a hardened steel bolt to make it more resistant to sawing and cutting than the typical bolt. It fits door thicknesses from 1 3/8″ to 2″ thick and is frequently purchased with the August Smart Lock Pro for the convenience aspect. Has a lifetime mechanical and finish warranty and comes in 11 different finishes. This lock in polished brass finish goes for about $30 at Amazon and about $40 on Homedepot.com.
Best for Doors with Glass or Sidelites
With doors with glass or an adjacent sidelite you would not want a deadbolt with a thumbturn on the interior – too easy to break the glass and access the thumbturn. In this case you would want a deadbolt that was keyed on both sides or a double cylinder deadbolt. The Schlage B62N Double Cylinder Deadbolt is the best one for this scenario. Has the same lifetime mechanical and finish warranty and same selection of finishes as the single cylinder version. Because it is keyed on the interior the August Smart Lock Pro or something similar cannot be used. This lock in polished brass finish is sold for about $45 at Amazon and about $40 on Homedepot.com.
This lock is not recommended on doors that do not have glass or adjacent windows. In the event of a fire you would want to be able to quickly unlock this door and looking for a key rather than flipping a thumbturn could waste valuable seconds.
Best for landlords or Airbnb types
The Kwikset 980 Single Cylinder Deadbolt is an ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 certified deadbolt with a keyed exterior and a thumbturn on the interior. This Kwikset deadbolt has their patented SmartKey re-keying system which takes the expensive locksmith out of the re-keying process and allows the homeowner to perform this themselves.
Rental homeowners find the re-key feature very beneficial. It fits the standard door preps and will fit the standard exterior door thickness of 1 3/4″. Has a lifetime mechanical and finish warranty and comes in 5 finishes. This lock in polished brass finish goes for about $20 at Amazon and about $30 on Homedepot.com.
For additional security use a door latch strike plate like the Prime-Line Armored Strike. This strike plate is more secure than the standard strike plate that comes with most deadbolts. It comes with six 3″ long screws (those buying this have reported using 4″ screws for additional strength) for attaching to the wood stud running vertical next to the door frame.
… One More Thing
Not one of these deadbolts are pick-proof, bump-proof or tamper-proof. Only the one-sided deadbolt is. Most of these come in Grade 3 but because there are no parts exposed to the exterior of the house, durability is not as big of a factor. It will not prevent an intruder from gaining access but provides one more obstacle as a deterrent. This deadbolt cannot be seen from the exterior, however there are some that come with an exterior plate such as the Schlage B81 or Kwikset 667. These can only be locked from the inside and cannot be accessed or locked from the outside but while you are home, it will provide one more level of protection.
The one-sided deadbolt is much more secure than the chain guard or sliding door guard. Most doors do not come ready for an additional hole for a one-sided deadbolt, therefore you would need to prep the door yourself or have someone do it. This should only be a 2-hour process, at most, but I believe it to be worth the additional security.