The Best Door Locks Match the Energy of Your Georgian or Level Up a ’70s Builder Grade
From vintage-inspired glass to tubular silhouettes.
Published Jun 30, 2022 1:30 AM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
While we often obsess over finish, knob, and lever styles for kitchen and bathroom faucets, that same attention to detail is also warranted when searching for the best door locks-and-handle sets. Easily overlooked, they’re arguably one of the most important features of a home—and often a visitor’s first interaction with your space. Pros recommend taking cues from your exterior’s architectural style or mirroring the finishes you find inside. For our favorite lock and lever (or knob!) combos, look no further than the designer-approved list of brands, below.
- Best modern finishes: Rejuvenation
- Best heritage looks: House of Antique Hardware
- Best porcelain knobs: Schoolhouse
- Best customizable choices: Emtek
- Best no-frill options: Schlage
Best Modern Finishes: Rejuvenation
Free shipping: No | Return policy: Refund within 30 days | Price range: $$-$$$
What we like
- Modern matte finishes
- Streamlined, clean lines thanks to hidden fasteners
- Schlage C keyway with 5 pin lock cylinder
- A soft, damp cloth keeps it clean
- Avoid the use of power tools come install day (all you should need is a screwdriver)
Why we chose it: Tap oil-rubbed bronze in a timeless knob or lever style for a modern twist.
While there are three main finishes to choose from, it’s Rejuvenation’s classic oiled bronze that echoes the ever-popular matte black vibes you’re likely to find in a kitchen or bathroom and brings it to the exterior of the home. A hardier lacquer coating allows it to stand up to the elements and frequent fingerprints, so you can count on it to welcome fresh vibes for years to come. Clean lines and a superslim profile from the Tumalo and Tabor collections play up all the modern details but keep each of these offerings versatile enough to pair with a colorfully painted front door or neutral stain.
Best Heritage Looks: House of Antique Hardware
Free shipping: Yes, on orders over $50 | Price range: $$-$$$ | Return policy: 45-day, no-questions-asked policy
What we like
- Traditional vintage styles
- Multiple finish options
- Longer warranties
- Comes with all necessary hardware, screws, and mounting accessories
- A splurge
Why we chose it: When you want the antique but not the finicky quirks it comes with.
Whether you have an older home or just an old soul, there’s nothing like a traditional door lock and knob—or a literal reproduction of a classic style you’ll likely recognize if you’re a Victorian-era fanatic. Luckily, House of Antique offers both. You can add a Russel & Erwin’s Bramante pattern to your door, complete with all the classical flourishes but designed for today’s entries and predrilled holes (making replacements far less tricky). Otherwise, we’d recommend the Harrison Mortise set with the sparkling accent of a crystal glass knob; it adds just the right hint of historic luxury and feels as good as it looks.
Best Porcelain Knobs: Schoolhouse
Free shipping: No | Price range: $-$$$ | Return policy: Final sale
What we like
- Quality materials
- Comes with a concealed fastener kit
- Emtek hardware with Schlage keyway
- 2 keys
- Can take 2 to 3 weeks to ship
- Cannot be returned
Why we chose it: A favored lighting brand also offers heirloom-inspired hardware to dress up your front door.
You can bring a unique detail to your keyed entryway handle set with a porcelain knob by Schoolhouse. The Freeport collection is available in a large or small backplate set, and both provide dead-bolt protection, the latter in the form of a thumb turn. Although made from solid brass, the satin nickel is a timeless take designed to withstand the elements that your door is often subjected to, whether it be rain, wind, snow, or sleet. The porcelain feature is not only a visually interesting element but one that’s inherently durable.
Best Customizable Choices: Emtek
Free shipping: Depends on retailer | Price range: $-$$$ | Return policy: Depends on retailer
What we like
- Custom-made in California
- Usually ships within 2 to 3 business days
- Style options update often
- Options for a quasi-customizable look
- Purchase through a dealer for price
Why we chose it: Design your dream door lock at an Emtek dealer.
When it comes to the actual lock, there are two main brands that other companies use but that you can buy from directly: Schlage and Emtek. And when you go directly to the source, the options can oftentimes be, well, endless. For instance, you can choose your own lever or knob style (a knurled, textured lever or an octagon knob, perhaps) to pair up with a mortise or tubular foundation. Or go with a fixed option, like the Adelaide, for a contemporary starting point, then pick out any brass knob or lever you prefer. The only hitch? You’ll have to go through an Emtek dealer—typically smaller, independent retailers, with varied shipping and return policies.
Best No-Frill Options: Schlage
Free shipping: Depends on retailer | Price range: $-$$ | Return policy: Depends on retailer
What we like
- Free and fast shipping
- Versatile and easy to install
- Different trim options
- Grade 1 dead bolt, the strongest you can buy
- Limited warranty on the finish (which reviewers note can wear quickly)
Why we chose it: Quality security for a fraction of the cost.
We’d be surprised if you aren’t already familiar with the name Schlage—the company has been around since the 1920s and is the dominant lock in our list of the best door lock sets. While you can find pretty much anything through the brand, it’s our go-to for simplicity. If all you need is a small backplate pairing and strong dead bolt, Schlage is quality, readily available at a number of retailers online and in-store. And our favorite part is that a set won’t cost you a fortune (seriously, our favorites are less than $200).
If You Often Lose Your Keys, There’s a Smart Lock for That
It’s hard to ignore the convenience factor of a smart lock—especially if you own more than one property, happen to rent to a tenant (or plan to), or simply have someone coming and going from home at a time other than you. That’s because you can remotely let people in and out with the press of a button or by firing up an app on your phone. It also means you can often switch the code anytime. If this happens to be what you need, we put together a quartet of our favorites. Never worry about locking the door, explaining where the spare key is, or not making it home in time to greet guests from out of town.
How We Chose These Products
Like any hardware decision, door locks are a finishing touch in your home—and a visible one at that. While this product has an important function (i.e., maintaining privacy), it’s also one of the first things you and your guests see and engage with before coming inside. That’s why when putting our list together for the best door locks, we made sure to consult the experts on trusted brands, find a fit for every style—from modern to traditional—and offer a range of prices. We also made sure to dig into the anatomy of a lock (highlighting the differences between keyed and keyless), the power of a dead bolt (you’ll only find 1s and 2s here), and what you need to know if you want the swap to be simple or if your design preference may require a more complicated install.
Our Shopping Checklist
Types and Design
“For door locks, there’s pretty much three main styles: tubular, mortise, and knob,” explains Matriarchy Build pro Mindy Otten-Chen. “Knob locks are mostly used in interior doors with no dead bolt; it just prevents the handle from engaging the latch. Tubular is usually cheaper but more limited in styles, whereas mortise allows for a lot more variety of trim but is more expensive and harder to install.”
Otherwise, it’s usually the knob or handle that plays up modern, farmhouse, transitional, or traditional style. While knurling and fluting provide visual interest, they also enhances the feel, grip, and functionality, reveals Will Zhang, Emtek’s director of design and product innovation.
Like hardware inside the home, your choice of finish for a door lock is pretty much the same—think: glossy or matte metallics like satin brass or brushed steel, as well as that contemporary classic, enamel-coated flat black. And while you can try to match the architectural style of your home’s exterior, or try to choose something that plays well with the color or material of your front door, it’s all really personal preference. “If the panels on the door are the ‘clothing’ it’s wearing, then the door hardware is the accessory and you want everything to match in look and feel,” advises Otten-Chen. “Oftentimes I see architects pick door hardware based on everything that is happening in the house, the molding style, and the other finishes used.”
Keyed vs. Keyless
It’s up for debate as to whether an electrical smart lock—one that opens based on touch, an app, a card, or a keypad—hosts enough benefits to outweigh the standard, traditional door lock that requires a key. Both come with their pros and cons.
“Electronic locks offer a ton of conveniences, like not having to carry a house key or being able to remotely allow guests into your home while you are away,” explains Zhang. “The downside is that they don’t blend well with the home and can be somewhat of an eyesore and out of place when it comes to your decor. Hacking is also a concern if the electric lock is network connected, adds Otto-Chen.
Standard door locks require a key that interacts with pins within the lock to open and close it. Of course, if you lose your key and don’t have a spare, you’ll have to call a locksmith to let you in.
Lock Grades and Ratings
According to Otten-Chen, the single most important aspect to look into when shopping for a new door lock is its dead bolt strength—way more important than aesthetics or locking mechanisms. This rating, as issued by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ranges from Grade 1 to Grade 3, where 1 is the strongest. For residences, Otto-Chen recommends sticking to 1 and 2 only.
Q: What should I know before looking to replace my old door lock?
There are a few key details Zhang recommends confirming before buying a new door lock.
“You will need to determine the type of latch used and measure the backset, or distance between the edge of the door and the center of hardware,” he explains. “If you’re looking to use a lever, you need to understand the handling, which side of the door the handle is on in relation to the swing direction, and confirm the door’s thickness, which is usually between 1⅜ to 1¾ inches.” If you’re not planning on repainting or finishing the door, he advises to look for hardware that has a larger footprint than what you’re replacing to cover any imprints left from the old hardware.
Q: What happens if my electricity goes out—will my smart lock not work?
Smart locks are actually battery powered, so if you lose electricity, your lock should still work without any issues. If the lock is connected to your Wi-Fi, on the other hand, there should still be a manual mechanism in place—you won’t be able to use your phone or control the lock remotely until the connection is reestablished.
Q: How easy is it to change out my door lock? Can I do it myself?
This depends on the lock you choose, though this type of project typically falls under the DIY-friendly category. If you want to avoid a headache, both Zhang and Otto-Chen stress that it’s important to use the same type you already have, in which case all you’ll need is a screwdriver to complete the job. Otherwise, Otten-Chen describes the process as a bit of a puzzle. Step one? Look for clues on how the lock is held together.
“The easiest is if you see exposed screws—sometimes those screws are holding all of it together; other times they’re just holding on the cover plate,” she says. “To get the knob off, there is usually a set screw you can see or some kind of slot that you need to stick a small tool into to release.” You might want to enlist the help of an Allen wrench to take off the knob. “Once you’ve figured out how to uncover the plate, then usually underneath you’ll find a mounting plate to a screw,” adds Otto-Chen.
This will allow you to remove the knob and spindle from both sides to then remove the mortise or tubular lock. But if you’ve inherited quite an old house and are looking to replace that lock with a contemporary one, she advises that a locksmith or carpenter might be your best bet.
The Last Word
Of course, the best door locks will keep your home protected, but it’s as important as completing your outfit with statement jewelry. Not all entryway locks have to be dull or boring—choose a quality finish by our favorite brands and pair it up with a lever or knob that fits the age of your home, whether that’s a contemporary tubular lever or a vintage-inspired glass knob, all of which you can find on our list of the best door locks.