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When it comes to protecting your home, having a deadbolt is critical. Whether this acts as the only security system for your home, or an additional layer of protection, finding the right deadbolt that is secure (without being too obtrusive) is important.
Like any security system, deadbolts vary in terms of size, complexity, and additional features (such as the ability to 're-key' if you lose your main key or 'smart' capabilities like unlocking from your phone).
Here is a list of our top picks, organized by overall best features and the best bang for your buck.
Best Overall: PRIME-LINE SE 15361 SEGAL Deadbolt
Most people prefer the simplicity of a single-cylinder deadbolt. Therefore, the best lock you should look at is Prime-Line's single-cylinder SE 15361 Segal Deadbolt. This deadbolt sticks to a traditional, no-frills design, so you don't have to worry about a complicated installation. The high-strength bronze alloy will also keep the deadbolt protected from outside abuse.
Mount this lock in any 1-⅜ to 2-⅜-inch wood or metal door. If you are looking for extra security, the lock’s jimmy-proof design will prevent forced entry using a traditional lock pick. The lock comes with two keys to share with family members if you use it on an exterior door.
Runner Up, Best Overall: Kwikset 660 Single Cylinder Deadbolt
A good deadbolt should be easy to install and simple to use. It also helps to replace a lost key quickly if necessary. The Kwikset 660 Deadbolt has many standard features common with interior or exterior locks. The lock works with a key from the outside and thumb turn on the inside.
If you happen to lose your keys a lot, the lock’s re-key feature will get you going again by following a simple set of instructions to prepare a new key. This will prevent replacing the entire lock if you lose the key. Since it is easy to install on various doors, this lock also makes for a great extra layer of security on doors with existing locks. Add this as a second lock for added peace of mind when necessary.
Best Budget: BRINKS 2717-109 Single Cylinder Deadbolt
Many people hesitate to select a budget option when searching for a deadbolt. While many budget locks will fail after a bit of tampering, the Brinks 2717-109 Single Cylinder lock can hold its own. This deadbolt meets the ANSI Grade 2 security standard for locks, which means it can handle picks, drills, and bumps. The all-metal construction also makes this a good option for people looking for a budget lock to complement different door styles.
The deadbolt includes a 1-inch long bolt that will fit doors between 1-⅜ to 1-¾ inches thick. A four-way latch fits on the other side of the door for additional protection. Its anti-pry shield can help you protect the door from the rear side, ensuring no one can jimmy the bolt open from the space between the door and frame.
Best Single Cylinder: PRIME-LINE U 9970 Deadbolt
Single-cylinder deadbolts are extremely popular with indoor use. Double cylinders, on the other hand, tend to be the lock of choice for outdoor use because of the extra security they provide. When using a single-cylinder on an exterior door, you will want an extra tough lock like the Prime-Line U 9970. This deadlock will stand up to extra abuse with a die-cast construction and brass-colored finish.
The deadlock's design includes a couple of additional features to prevent tampering. A tamper-resistant shutter guard will keep people from messing with the bolt or separating the lock from the door. The cross-bolt design will also offer extra resistance from traditional deadbolts since it connects to a more solid metal on the latch side.
Best Double Cylinder: BRINKS 2718-119 Double Cylinder Deadbolt
If having good security on both sides of the door is a priority for you, the double cylinder deadbolt is the best option. Having a key lock on both sides of the door will prevent people on any side from getting undesired access. On windowed doors, they are also handy if someone breaks the glass to turn the knob from the inside. Brinks’ 2718-119 Double Cylinder Deadbolt will give you this type of security with an all-metal construction.
The lock can resist lock picking, drilling, and forceful shoves using a combination of its 1-inch deadbolt, anti-pry shield, and all-around solid construction. The internal locking pins are made of steel which is perfect for standing up to saws and other small, slender tools that can fit through the cracks. Be sure to keep your keys for this one around.
Best Keypad: SCHLAGE BE365VCAM619 Camelot Keypad Deadbolt
Forgetful people who find it difficult to keep track of a key often like turning to the more advanced deadbolt options. Features like keypads and smart access are becoming more and more common. The Schlage Camelot Trim Keypad Deadbolt sets itself apart with the option for keyless entry. It starts with the same solid construction the locks on this list have to resist tampering.
When you lose or don't want to use the key, a keypad is located front and center on the outside. The keys are made of silicone, so they will resist wearing out over time. There is also a low power indicator for when the battery needs to be replaced. Rest assured that even when there is no power, the deadbolt will remain locked. Installing and using the lock takes just a few minutes to set up a custom key code. If you want to use it right away, the keypad comes with two pre-programmed codes as well.
Best Smart: SCHLAGE Z-Wave Camelot Deadbolt
Following the trend of everyday items becoming more technologically advanced, deadbolts are now capable of integrating directly with home security systems. The Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt with Camelot Trim is one of the best options when you want top security and easy access for yourself or other family members. It is rated with the highest residential security rating of ANSI Grade 1, so it will stand up to even more abuse than other locks on this list.
The smart features begin with a touchscreen located right on the lock, allowing you to input key codes from this screen. For homes with automation systems, you can hook it up to lock or unlock the door from your phone. This is a good feature if you want to control access to your home while your children or pets are by themselves. Finally, the lock includes a built-in alarm, so you or your neighbors will know when someone is trying to break in through tampering.
Best Single Sided: Kwikset 663 Single-Sided Deadbolt
Despite all the smart features many deadbolts have, sometimes you only need a basic setup to get the security and privacy you want. A single-sided lock is a perfect example. Kwikset’s 663 One-Sided Deadbolt is just enough for anyone wanting to reinforce the security on outside doors or add some extra privacy on bedroom doors.
The lock skips any need for keys and is for rooms where people want to lock themselves in. Since you can only lock it from the knob side, it is difficult to lock and forget. The 1-inch bolt and tamper resistance features will still provide the same ANSI Grade 3 security that has become the standard level of protection in the industry.
What To Look for in Deadbolts
There is no "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to deadbolts and the doors they lock. Look at the sizes of different locks and one-side vs. two-sides for additional protection. Models such as Prime-Line's SE 15361 Segal Deadbolt (our top pick) are single-cylinder vs. the Brinks’ 2718-119 Double Cylinder, for example, which has protection for both sides of the door.
Some deadbolts are simple, effective locks. Others are a bit more complex. For example, the Brinks 2717-109 Single Cylinder lock offers a four-way inner latch and an anti-pry shield, and the Prime-Line U 9970 features a tamper-resistant shutter guard. Complexity is a matter of preference and convenience. If you prefer simple but effective, going with something uncomplicated makes the most sense. However, if you're prone to losing keys or looking for higher security, something more complex may be a more advantageous buy.
If you're prone to losing your keys, the Kwikset 660 Deadbolt comes with a 're-keying' feature that lets you create a new key if your original gets lost. Other models, like the Schlage Camelot Trim Keypad Deadbolt, feature a built-in keypad, or the Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt with Camelot Trim that's fully "Smart" can be synced with a phone to lock even when you're not at home.
What are deadbolts?
Deadbolts are a type of lock that uses a key instead of a spring. Typically used as an additional layer of security, deadbolts use a key to either extend or retract the bolt across the strike plate.
How do deadbolts work?
Deadbolts are an additional bolt that goes across the strike plate on a door. Because deadbolts are so strong, they're often used to reinforce regular locks because it takes quite a bit of effort to tamper with them.
How do you install deadbolts?
Installing a deadbolt is easy. Typically, companies will provide you with instructions and a template for how and where to assemble. You'll first make reference marks and then saw and drill the deadbolt in place.
From there, if your deadbolt requires anything additional like a touchscreen system, for example, you'll set up those codes or sync passwords and connections with your phone.
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Austin Fracchia is a freelance writer specializing in home design, DIY projects, and technology. His work has appeared in The Drive, Best Reviews, WikiHow, and others. Additional reporting was done by Marisa Donnelly, a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Bustle, BossBabe, Thought Catalog, and more.