These days, security is a concern in many areas. When a house is first closed in, it’s a good idea to buy an inexpensive door lock to seal it off. That way, you can have a bunch of keys made and give a key to any contractor who needs to get in. There is no need to install the finished locks until after the painting is done and just before the final inspection.
With door locksets, you’ll find a wide range of prices for different products. The quality range is just as broad. You don’t need to buy the best lock on the shelf, but you shouldn’t buy the cheapest, either. The exterior lock-set is used many times every day, and a bargain-basement lock won’t hold up over the long haul.
LEVERS, KNOBS, AND KEYS. Instead of buying a lockset that opens with a round knob, consider one that opens with a lever, as shown in the left photo below. This type of lockset and handle is much easier on the hands of older folks and people with arthritis. Also, be sure to buy exterior locks and deadbolts that open with the same key. If a supplier doesn’t have enough identical key locksets in stock, order them. This will eliminate the hassle of having different keys for all the exterior doors.
For good reason, fire-safety code requires that deadbolts open with a lever (not a key) from the inside. You wouldn’t want to look for a key with fire licking at your heels.
INSTALLATION DETAILS. Prehung exterior doors are drilled at the factory to receive both a lockset and a deadbolt. If you buy your doors this way, you should have an easy time installing the lockset. The installation instructions that come with each unit aren’t difficult to follow (see the illustration on the facing page). When installing locksets,
USE AN EASIER HANDLE.
A lever-type door handle is easier to open than a round knob is, especially for older folks and those with arthritis or carpal-tunnel pain. [Photo € Rex Cauldwell. j
FIND A COMFORTABLE SEAT. A small workbench comes in handy when installing latches and locksetS. [Photo
— Larry Haun.]
I like to sit on my workbench with my tools and hardware on the shelf below. This is easier and more comfortable than kneeling or bending over (see the photo at right on the facing page).
The spring-loaded latch assembly and deadbolt are installed first. The factory-cut mortises for the latch and deadbolt plates, as well as those in the door jamb for the strike plates, all have rounded corners. If the plates in your hardware set aren’t rounded also, you’ll need to cut the mortised corners square with a sharp chisel to make the plates fit.
Once the latch and deadbolt plates have been screwed to the door edge and the strike plates have been screwed to the jamb, you can install the knobs or handles. On exterior doors, standard practice is to orient the keyhole so that the key can be inserted with the smooth side down. Most folks find that this makes it easier to fit the key in the lock when unlocking a door in the dark.