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Understanding Lock Types for Your Commercial Building

Types of Locks
When it comes to securing your home or business, you may find yourself staring at a huge wall of options. If you’re wondering which lock is the best choice, ask yourself this question first: What area am I securing? Typically, each type of lock has an ideal function and place of use.

Once you know what type of area you’re securing, the choice becomes easier. Here’s an overview of some of the most common lock types along with the rooms and areas they’re best used in to ensure high-security for your home or business.


Padlocks are the only type of lock that are not permanently fixed to something else, meaning you can use and re-use these locks anywhere that you want to move them. They are available in a very wide range of types and sizes, and today come with several different security features that allow you to operate them with keys, combinations, or both. In addition, they have options for what is called a “shrouded shackle” that raises the shoulders of the padlock up the sides to make it much more difficult for someone to breach the lock with bolt cutters.

The Best Places to Use Padlocks

  • Gates: padlocks are a practical solution for any type of gate within your property.
  • In Conjunction with a Chain: using a chain with a padlock allows you to secure equipment, motorcycles, bikes and more.
  • Cabinets: cabinet locks tend to be unreliable. Use a padlock to secure your cabinet when you need and remove it when you don’t.


Deadbolts are a very common lock that people use in both commercial and residential buildings. They are often installed on external doors, and are designed to prevent forced entry by making the door more secure. Traditional deadbolts may not offer the best level of protection for a commercial application, so many business owners today have turned to high security deadbolts, which offer features like steel door frames and deadbolts make of hardened steel alloy that prevent forced entry.

The Best Places to Use Deadbolts

  • Doors with Glass: double-sided deadbolts are ideal for doors with glass. Even if an intruder breaks the glass, they won’t be able to use the thumb-turn of a standard deadbolt.
  • Doors Located Near Windows: if a burglar can took through a nearby window to check out your security measures, you want to be sure what they see discourages them. By installing a double-sided deadbolt, any potential burglar should be thrown off from invading your home.
Diagram depicting the components that make up a commercial deadbolt lock.
Diagram depicting the components that make up a commercial deadbolt lock.

Lever Handle Locks

Lever handle knobs are commonly used in businesses because the door handle can easily be pushed down (instead of turned like a traditional knob), so they are ADA accessible. This is a benefit for businesses that need to upgrade their locks to comply with local business regulations. They can also be easily adjusted for right-handed or left-handed use.

The Best Places to Use Lever Handle Locks

  • Interior Doors: if you have an area that needs to be locked, but not necessarily protected against forced entry, this type of lock and handle is the best choice.
Diagram of the components of a commercial interior door lever lock.
Diagram displaying the components of a lever lock for commercial doors.

Cam Locks

Cam locks rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise between 90-180 degrees. They’re available in different lengths and locking mechanism, so you can customize your lock for your use.

The Best Places to Use Cam Locks

  • Filing cabinets
  • Mailboxes
  • Low-security areas

Rim or Mortise Locks

Rim and mortise locks come in a large variety of options. The specific lock types vary based on the hardware they use, but are largely similar.

The Best Places to Use Rim or Mortise Locks

  • Commercial Doors
  • Entry Doors with Glass
  • Apartment Doors
Anatomy of a commercial mortise lock.
Diagram displyaing the parts of a commercial mortise lock.

IC Cylinders

The interchangeable core (IC) cylinders offer businesses an easy option for keeping their doors secure even if they have to change the locks frequently, such as when an employee quits and takes the key. These locks have the ability to be re-keyed easily by a mobile locksmith switching the core without doing anything to the actual door hardware, or taking the lock apart. They offer an easy upgrade function as well if you want to increase your building security. There are also other options that commercial owners might be interested in that offer higher levels of security than standard locks, or offer you the ability to offer access to certain people that work with you, while keeping others who are unauthorized to use the area out.

The Best Places to Use IC Cylinders

  • Large Institutions or Businesses
Diagram showing the different parts of an IC door lock.
Diagram showing the anatomy an interchangeable core door lock.

Get more information on The Best Door Locks for Every Type of Door.

Making Your Final Decision

Before deciding on a lock type, talk to your local locksmith about all your options to make sure you get the protection your business or home deserves. At Great Valley Lockshop, we’re happy to help answer any questions you may have about your commercial security. Give us a call today at 610-644-5334!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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