Let me start out by getting something off my chest. I hate, as in loathe with the burning passion of a thousand suns, Kwikset locks. I sell them for a living, so you may wonder why I hate Kwikset locks.
When you choose a door lock, you need it to look good and function well. I’ve got an entire article on how to choose a good looking door lock here.
The best part is, it isn’t just myself that believes Kwikset makes an inferior lock. This article from Front Range Locksmith gives you several reasons to buy a different lock as well. Let me tell you a story and you will understand.
Reason #1: Smartkey Technology
First off, I got my Kwiksets for a rental property. It was my very first rental property and it is all of 2 days old at this point. I got Kwikset for the exterior doors because they have Smartkey technology.
What this translates to is the ability to rekey your Kwikset locks without even removing you lock from the door. So between renters, you can easily change keys and you don’t even have to go to the hardware store or a locksmith.
So, this seemed like an excellent idea. Again, it was a rental. These locks were speaking my language.
Where It Went Wrong
So, I finally got my locks installed, more on that later, and I went to rekey them. It’s easy enough to do and, since I do this for a living, I knew all of the potholes in the road.
So, you insert the old key and turn it 90 degrees clockwise. Then you push the rekey tool inside the small hole in the cylinder. Take the old key out, put the new key in, and turn a few times.
From there, the new key should work every time.
The Rekey Failed
Oh sure, the rekey worked a few times. Just long enough for me to trust it, give new keys to my renters (by the way, they were first timers too), and get back to my home 20 minutes away.
That’s when the new key stopped working. All I could think of was how angry I was! I had heard bad things about Kwikset locks and I gave them a chance!
So I had to go back to the rental and I had to rekey the locks. But this time, no key worked. So I had to take the lock off the front door and take it to the hardware store. Then go back to the rental in order to fix it again.
Trust me, this is just the start of the crap that my Kwikset doorknob put me through.
Reason #2: Installation
To install a lockset and have it functional, the part on the front must connect with the part on the back of the door. For an in depth how-to on the topic, check out the article on installing door knobs. Basically though, this occurs in two separate parts.
One, there is a spindle of plastic or metal that actually controls the locking and unlocking. Two, there are two screws that physically connect both parts.
The Kwikset Lock Spindle Is Shaped Wrong
The problem with Kwikset, as far as I can see, is that the piece that connects the two is shaped like a half moon. You can see in the basic diagram above from Great Valley Lockshop, a door knob is actually fairly simple.
This means that you can’t really reverse it if you door swings a different direction than the manufacturer made the lock for. So, you end up with the keyhole upside down.
Not only is this annoying but it invites rust, dirt, and water to destroy the lock and they don’t last as long.
You Can’t Get The Screws Right
The other annoying problem when you try to install a Kwikset knob is that you can’t, for the life of you, aim the screws. This means that you can’t get one side of a Kwikset door lock to actually connect and stay secure to the other.
So, you end up instead swearing at the darn thing for multiple minutes, since you can’t see what you’re doing because there’s a door in the way, rather than getting the job done.
You end up taking the screws out and putting them back in multiple times. Using the screwdriver to try and coax them in a different direction doesn’t help. Yelling at the knob doesn’t help. You can’t do anything other than try to stay calm and try again.
Reason #3: It Doesn’t Stay Installed
Even if you do manage to get your new Kwikset locks to feel like they were keyed and installed correctly, I found out the hard way that they may not actually stay installed.
No sooner had I left my new tenants, who were all very excited to unpack and move into their first home together, than they sent me a picture with one half of the door knob in their hands rather than on the door!
It Fell Apart!
So, to sum up thusfar…I had no luck getting my Kwikset smartkey lock to key properly (which was the only reason I purchased this Kwikset lock) and it had taken FOREVER to install.
Now, I left it unattended for a matter on a single hour and the darn thing had fallen apart in my tenant’s hands. And to answer your question: no, they hadn’t been yanking or pulling on it.
So, I went back to the rental the next day, armed with my screwdriver only, and promptly convinced the darn lock to go back together. It was secure on the door again!
It Fell Apart Again!
However, the next day, I received an eerily similar photo as the lock fell apart again. I was done with the Kwikset lock. I vowed to never use them again, never sell them again. I refused to leave my tenants with a rental that the doorknobs didn’t even work.
So I Bought A Schlage
Upon reflection and at my wits end, I went back to the hardware store, for the 4th time for these Kwikset locks. I found a Schlage lock that didn’t cost a ton and it had none of the cute little bells and whistles of the Kwikset.
I took it to the rental and I had 3 door knobs, which were easily reversed for different handings, installed in a matter of minutes. Not only were they easy to reverse, but the screws didn’t keep missing the barrels inside the knob.
They could accommodate multiple different mortises on the edge of the door, whether it was radius mortised or drive in. The Schlage knobs even managed to not come apart in my tenants’ hands!
DO NOT BUY KWIKSET LOCKS!! If you have any pride and care for yourself, just don’t buy Kwikset locks. They are not worth the extra savings. Purchase a Schlage lock and you will never go wrong. I promise. I swear on the grave of my dead hamster, Ricky. That’s all…