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Single vs. Double Cylinder Deadbolt: How to Choose

single vs. double cylinder deadbolt
Last Updated on January 22, 2023
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Deadbolts are among the most important parts of your home security and provide a strong layer of protection against forced entry—such as kick-ins.

However, one key decision when choosing a deadbolt is whether to go with a single-cylinder or a double-cylinder model. While both types of deadbolts perform the same basic task, there are some significant distinctions between them that may affect their suitability in various scenarios.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between single-cylinder and double-cylinder deadbolts, and help you decide which type is best for your home.

We’ll look at factors such as security, convenience, and legal considerations so that you can make an informed decision about the type of deadbolt that will best suit your needs.

After this guide, be sure to check out my list of the best deadbolts of 2023!

Let’s get to it!

Difference Between Single Cylinder and Double Cylinder Deadbolts

The main difference between a single-cylinder deadbolt and a double-cylinder deadbolt is convenience (how they are operated) and security.

  • Single-Cylinder Deadbolt: Operated by a thumb turn on the inside and a key on the outside.
  • Double-Cylinder Deadbolt: A key is required on both the inside and outside of a double-cylinder deadbolt.

Due to the ease with which a thumb turn may be used to open a single-cylinder lock from the inside, they are considered less secure. If someone has access to the thumb turn (smashing a nearby window), they could easily unlock the deadbolt from the inside.

On the other hand, a double-cylinder deadbolt offers a better level of protection because a key is required on both the inside and outside of the lock to unlock the deadbolt. That being said, while it does increase security, it may also pose a risk to people's safety in an emergency (such as a fire).

Overall, the choice between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt comes down to a balance between security and convenience. Single-cylinder deadbolts are more convenient because they can be opened from the inside with a thumb turn, but they are less secure. Double-cylinder deadbolts are more secure because they require a key on both the inside and the outside, but they can be a potential safety hazard in an emergency.

Single-Cylinder Deadbolt: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Best Use Cases

Because they are simple to use and install, single-cylinder deadbolts are the most popular option for residential doors.

Single-cylinder deadbolt offers a high level of security without being very challenging to use—which is its main advantage. The thumb turn on the inside allows tenants to swiftly and conveniently open the door from the inside without using a key, while the key on the outside ensures that only authorized personnel may enter the premises.

A single-cylinder deadbolt's comparative affordability to other types of locks is an additional advantage. For those on a tight budget who want to increase the security of their house without spending a lot of money, this makes it a viable option.

A single-cylinder deadbolt may not offer as much security as other types of locks, which is one possible disadvantage. For instance, a thief might attempt to enter the building by smashing a nearby window and reaching in to disengage the thumbturn.

In general, single-cylinder deadbolts are most effective in applications where a moderate amount of security is required but where convenience and ease of use are also crucial considerations. They are a fine option for home doors, but they might not be appropriate for high-security settings like offices or governmental buildings.

Double-Cylinder Deadbolt: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Best Use Cases

One of the main benefits of a double-cylinder deadbolt is that it provides better security. Because a key is required on both the inside and the outside of the door, it is more difficult for unauthorized individuals to gain access.

This makes a double-cylinder lock an excellent option for applications where security is a top priority, such as in commercial or government buildings.

However, the major drawback of a double-cylinder deadbolt is that it can be a safety hazard in the event of an emergency—such as a fire. Because a key is required on both the inside and the outside, occupants may not be able to quickly and easily escape if the key is not readily available.

Overall, double-cylinder deadbolts are a good choice for commercial buildings and government facilities, but may not be suitable for residential doors where convenience and ease of use are important.

Are Double-Cylinder Deadbolts Legal?

In general, double-cylinder deadbolts are legal, however, there may be situations or locations in which they are prohibited.

One potential issue with double-cylinder deadbolts is that they can be a safety hazard in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Because a key is required on both sides of the deadbolt, occupants may not be able to quickly and easily escape if the key isn't on hand. For this reason, some municipal construction rules may prohibit the use of double-cylinder deadbolts on exit doors and egress windows.

Additionally, double-cylinder deadbolts may not be accessible to individuals with disabilities. A person who is blind or has limited hand function may be unable to open the deadbolt from the inside using a key. Other locks that can be opened without a key, such as lever handles or push-button locks, may be required by law in some instances.

Overall, it is important to check with your local building code or accessibility regulations to determine whether double-cylinder deadbolts are allowed in your specific situation.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the level of security offered by single-cylinder and double-cylinder deadbolts is the primary distinction between them.

Single-cylinder deadbolts are less secure since they may be unlocked from the inside with a thumb turn, whereas double-cylinder deadbolts are more secure because both the inside and outside require a key. The decision between the two types of deadbolts is determined by a balance between security and convenience, as well as application-specific needs.

Single-cylinder deadbolts are suitable for residential doors, whilst double-cylinder deadbolts are more suitable for high-security applications such as commercial buildings and government buildings.

However, it is crucial to evaluate the potential disadvantages of each type of deadbolt, such as the emergency safety risk posed by a double-cylinder lock and the accessibility concerns that may develop with either type of deadbolt.

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