Sliding doors are a great feature in any setting; attractive yet unimposing, they are ideal as partitions between rooms or suites, and also as entranceways into homes or onto patio areas. When used as a gateway to or from the exterior however, sliding doors present a unique security challenge to property owners. There are multiple ways of securing sliding doors; the main challenge lies in identifying the best type of sliding door lock or locks for one’s specific needs. The following paragraphs will list and describe some of the most common and popular sliding door locks on the market, with the goal of helping readers to make wise and informed choices when working to secure their homes.
Sliding door locks necessarily differ from hinged door locks by virtue of their two distinct modes of operation. Whereas hinged doors either swing in or out, secured on one side by at least two hinging fixtures, sliding doors operate on a sliding base, moving sideways as opposed to in or out of a given space. As a result, standard deadbolts and key lock fixtures are of little or no use when applied to sliding doors. Some of the most popular patio door locks (so termed because the most common locations for sliding doors are patio areas) include the following: mortise locks, hooked locks or hook bolts, telescoping bar locks or ratchet bars, special patio door lock deadbolts, and electromagnetic locks.
The first distinction to make, when selecting a sliding glass door lock, is whether or not you want the lock to be accessible from both indoors and out. If your patio door leads onto a balcony or other area that is not easily accessible from ground level, you will likely not have a need to unlock it from the outside. The most common indoor-only sliding glass door locks are lever-operated latches, or switches. Most of these mechanisms function with an internal hooking mechanism in order to prevent the door from being slid into an open position.
If you plan on accessing your home by means of a sliding patio door, then you will need to be able to lock and unlock it from the outside as well the interior. You may choose to install a traditional mortise (also spelled mortice) fixture, whereby the lock fixture is fitted into a carved or otherwise constructed pocket in the side of the door and is most often operated by means of a key or a mechanical keypad system, or for heightened security, you may opt for an electromagnetic locking system. The latter tends to be a considerably more expensive option, but also proves to be extremely secure, since there is no mechanical lock system available to be picked or tampered with, and the only way to deactivate the powerful magnets is by entering a personal security code into a keypad.
Regardless of which patio door lock system you choose, bear in mind that multiple locks are always better than just one. In addition to the systems listed above, consider using a special sliding door deadbolt that fits into the slide base and prevents the door from being removed from its track, and/or a telescoping bar or brace, which effectively prevents the sliding section of the door from being displaced. Both of these options are used from the interior.
Although sliding door locks are somewhat more complicated than locks for regular hinging doors, home and property owners should not be discouraged from enjoying the unique design features of patio doors. The great variety of patio door lock systems on the market means that a home with sliding doors can be just as secure, if not more so, than a home equipped with only hinging doors. Always remember that more than one lock option, regardless of the nature of your entryways, effectively makes those entryways twice as secure.