Choosing a Door Lock for Both Finish and Function

Choosing a door lock can be as simple or as complex as you make it. Here's some information to help you decide.

Do You Have A Friend Who Needs This? Share It!

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Table of Contents

Door locks are second only to toilet paper for their value and their lack of recognition. The poor things are only noticed when they don’t work perfectly. They are so much more complicated than we seem to understand. There are many different factors to consider when choosing a door lock to get something that will work a long time and look good doing it. When you do select a door lock, check out how to install it.

Door Lock Finish

Door locks come in a variety of finishes, from bright brass to oil rubbed bronze. Finish doesn’t alter the function in any way but there are better and worse finishes. Exterior door locks see a lot of weather and you want a finish that will last a long time. Even the best functioning door lock will not be tolerated if the finish is worn off. Make sure you get a lock from a manufacturer that has some warranty on their finish. It isn’t vital to match finish throughout the house but it gives your home the feel of being professionally decorated.

Bright Brass=Inexpensive

If you are looking for the least expensive finish, bright brass is probably your best bet. It was the poster child of the 80s and 90s with the oak cabinets and bling. Due both to its faddish popularity then, as well as its reputation of being “dated,” it is frequently less expensive than other finishes. However, one thing to note is that a newer finish, satin brass, is now incredibly popular. The matte finish cousin of bright brass goes very nicely with painted cabinets.

Satin Nickel=Safe

For a “safe” finish, I always recommend satin nickel. This is a distinctly different finish than chrome so be careful. Satin nickel always, throughout the last few decades at least, has been in the top two or three for popularity. That means that you may not have the most popular finish but you won’t look outdated either. It’s my favorite finish for landlords because of this. Another positive to satin nickel is the wide array of hardware that matches, from cabinet knobs to towel racks.

Brand of Lock

There are numerous brands of door lock on the market. There are two major types of “key ways” or cylinders: Kwikset and Schlage. These two brand behemoths are like two fighting giants and they will not be compatible in any way but there are several economy brands that fit each one of them. I suggest selecting one and sticking with it for your entire house rather than switching between the two. That way, you can have a single key for the entrances and a similar fit for every door.


Kwikset locks are less expensive typically but that is not always the case so it’s important to look around. Their keys are identified by their hexagonal heads.. Kwikset spindles have a half moon shape that is more difficult to install and prevents you from switching the handing of the lock at home. I find that Kwikset locks are a good lock but I personally think that they’re a bit…loose…for my own taste. There is a vast array of great electronic deadbolts available for Kwikset. Kwikset also has the Smartkey line that is easy for homeowners to change keys without taking the lock to a locksmith.


Schlage locks are a bit heftier since they’re made with more metal insides rather than plastic. I love their solid action as the key is turned in a Schlage lock. Customers also present with far fewer problems with these locks. Schlage keys have a frilly edge on their head. The square spindle on Schlage is easy to install and easy to change the handing at home.

Single Action Locks for Foster Care

If you need a single action knob for purposes such as foster care, every Schlage lock does this. A single action lock, even when locked, can always be opened from the inside to allow for quick exit. Fun fact!

Door Lock Style

When it comes to type of door lock there are both levers and knobs. Levers are easier to turn if you have weak or sore hands so they tend to be favorites of older people. They are also nice if your hands are full of groceries and you need to open the door. Knobs provide a traditional feel to a lock that levers struggle with. Knobs are also less likely to snatch your headphone cords while you walk by.

There are numerous different styles of door lock and most styles are available in all major finishes. Some of them are more plain than others, down to just a round ball. Others can get quite ornate with carved details and decorative flourishes. With so many different options, it’s easy to match the style to your home decor choice.


You can find any number of different finishes and styles of door lock in many different brands. I suggest sticking with one brand, or at least one single key way style, throughout your house. At the very least, you should try and stick with one single finish color. After you’ve selected your matching door locks, the steps to install them are easy.

You should also be aware that locks with the same key way can be keyed alike. I’ve talked to hundreds of customers who had 2-3 keys for a single house and that’s just not necessary. Also, please whatever you do, don’t use anything except lock lubricant on any lock. It gums up the works. I have had to save numerous good door locks because a customer used the wrong lubricant to “fix” it. Hopefully, this guide helps you select some new locks for your house.

Want More Free Stuff?

Check out the library of FREE resources just for homeowners like you. Anybody can do home improvement and I’ll be with you every step of the way!

Easy Basement Waterproofing Tips & Techniques

It’s tough to waterproof your basement against groundwater intrusion. These basement waterproofing tips make it easy to keep your basement dry. From repairing the cracks in the concrete to grading your yard away from your home, everything is covered.

Read More »

Have you seen my free library?

Check it out for more resources like this


Head Homeowner

Hey everybody! I'm Sydney, the head homeowner here. Let me know if you have any questions you didn't find the answer to. Tell me what projects you're working on. I love to hear from all my readers.