Interior Door Locks 101: How to Make a Smart Choice

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Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen, interior door locks do make an aesthetic difference in our home. When we remodel the house, we often forget to check and often replace such hardware. But leave out such details and they will come to haunt you till you do something about them. Why? Because details have a tendency of interfering with our lives. A wrong decision, failure to replace the bath doorknob, improper lock installation, and…Ooops! You suddenly find yourself locked inside the bathroom or need help to open the bedroom door.

So, let us get back to the basics. What do you need to consider before buying home interior door locks and which are your choices?

A word or two about interior door locks

Never forget that each home is different and the requirements of each family vary too. With that said, keep in mind that most interior doors don’t need high security locks. Some only have a dummy lock and a handle to enable door operation. On the other hand, some rooms require some privacy. Bedrooms & bathrooms, for example! But still, such rooms don’t often require deadbolts or other high security systems.

All the same, here’s a review of the best security systems on the market – if you want to compare and form your own opinion.

What’s the main focus when you consider getting interior door locks is a balance between aesthetics and functionality! Privacy functions will enable you to lock the door from the inside and still unlock it with a special key from the outside should there is an emergency.

The most popular interior door locks

Privacy locks are designed for interior use. So, they are non-keyed locks and thus low-security. In other words, they latch but don’t secure the door since their intention is to prevent accidental access to a certain room in the house.

Interior door locks often utilize a knob with either a turn or push button. But you can also get a turning lever, which will also have a turn button.

Now, what’s your main consideration here?

Some thumb turn locks cannot be opened from outside. And this is a high risk, especially with kids at home. If someone is locked in a room, you want to be able to use a special key, wire, or another tool to easily unlock the door from outside. If you want such solutions, look for lever or knob locks with a tiny hole on the outside.

The handle makes all the difference

When it comes to the handle, your convenience should be given priority. More often than not, lever locks are easily handled by children or people with disabilities. And that’s because knob locks must be turned in order to open or close the door. This is not easy for everyone.

Which mistakes to avoid

  • Check if the door is right or left handed. You should check the knob or lever accordingly.
  • Make sure you get the right locks for each door. For example, levers cannot be fitted in pocket doors. For these special doors, you will need pocket door privacy locks. They look like knob locks without the knob. They are actually recessed to fit in the pocket door so that they won’t cause a problem during operation.
  • And then it’s the issue of security. Although most rooms in the house don’t need keyed-locks, you might want to install a security lock in the home office. On the other hand, you might not want a lock for the kitchen door but only push/pull hardware. In this case, you should get a dummy non-locking and non-turning knob.
  • Since security is not an issue with internal door locks, there is no need for you to pay more for a grade 2 lock. You can simply get a low-security grade 3 lock.
  • Always ask whether or not a certain lock can be fitted to a specific door depending on its material.
  • Check the thickness of the door. Average interior doors are 1 ¾ or 1 3/8 thick and the lockset must be chosen accordingly.
  • Be extra careful during the installation or call a local locksmith to fit the new lock. It’s important to measure well from the edge of the door to the center of the lock’s hole so that the lock set will fit properly. This is particularly vital with new doors, which must be drilled from scratch. Now, if you are replacing the existing lock, it’s best to get one that fits in the existing holes.
  • Even privacy locks must be installed in well-adjusted doors. If the hinges of the door are damaged, you should replace or fix them before installing new locks. Hinges cause many operational problems. The door won’t close well if it sags and so it won’t latch. 

And now the fun stuff: finishes, designs, trims…


First of all, let us say that most knob locks usually come with a rosette. Traditionally this is round, but lately they are designed in a square shape. And they are very popular too. With lever locks, you can choose a simple rosette or backplate.

When it comes to finishes, it’s always best to match the style and color of the house. Of course, you can choose contrasting colors to make a statement. But you will have a better aesthetic effect if you choose the same finish for all internal doors. It will create a sense of uniformity and thus elegance.

Let’s filter by finish:

  • If you like the hardware nice and polished, you can choose between polished brass and chrome.
  • If you don’t like polished hardware, get Venetian bronze, antique brass, or iron black.
  • If you stand between the two, get a satin chrome or nickel. They will also make an impression.

Apart from the finishing touch, you also have a choice in trims. The rosette can be small or large and often ornamental – if you want something fancier. The lever shape can be different too. It might be arched, square, flat, round, or straight. The knob can be spherical with a flat or round surface, or oval shaped.

One tiny advice: consider getting door stoppers to keep the knob or lever from damaging the wall or furniture. You can also place holders to keep the door from slamming.

Why replace interior door locks in the first place?

  • If the existing lock sets are damaged, they serve nothing.
  • It’s also one way of increasing the curb appeal of your house indoors and thus increase its value.
  • By installing new hardware, you increase aesthetics and functionality.
  • Functionality becomes a priority if your in-laws move in with you and one of them has arthritis. Without the proper lever, they won’t be able to have easy access to the rooms.
  • But functionality is also vital for you. Screws, latches, and hardware wear and tear. And when they do, the door won’t operate with ease.
  • Most definitely, installing the best possible interior door locks in a new home is a must.

One last note


In contrast to other home improvement projects with interior door locks, you don’t have too much thinking to do. There are plenty of choices for all kinds of interior doors out there and for all tastes. There are also many lock manufacturers and home improvement stores, which offer interior lock sets in many finishes, trims, and designs. One thing you accomplish is to enhance functionality and aesthetics without spending much. Just make sure the new locks are installed correctly and serve your needs.


Alexia studied sociology at Essex University and did postgraduate studies at Sussex University in the media field. In Greece she worked for many years in printed and electronic media. She has written and illustrated the children's book "Little Bobby Steps Into the World", which is available on Amazon. Today she is spending endless hours with, regularly writes articles for websites in America and Europe, and is a top rated content writer on Upwork. Alexia has always been interested in interior design and has written relative content over the years.

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