Here is a comprehensive look into all types of door latches including internal, external and those that are better used on outer gates showcasing each pros and cons.
Despite the similar functionality of different door latches, there are various types for consumers to choose from. Understanding the different types of latches that are available is essential when picking the one best suited to your needs.
There are two main categories of door latches that vary according to installation. Some latches are internally embedded within doors and those that are externally installed. Despite similar core functionality, each latch category has various types with unique features and functionality.
With a surprising number of latch options to choose from, finding the correct door latch for your specific needs can be stressful. However, with our guide to the different types, you’ll be able to distinguish between the different latch types and pick a suitable variant!
What are Door Latches Used for?
When considering the different types of door latches, it’s essential to have a good understanding of how these mechanical devices function. While there are a variety of door latches to choose from, there are some limitations to them.
Ultimately, the purpose of a door latch is to fasten a door or gate in place. Essentially, a door latch is a fastening device that will prevent a door or gate from opening. However, while the door will be secure, it will not provide security. That’s where an important distinction comes in!
Due to similar appearances and functionality, many people typically confuse door latches and door locks. A door lock, of course, is a device that is installed to prevent anyone without a key from unlocking the door or gate. So, how do they differ?
Well, while a latch will keep the door closed, it is unable to lock the door. When choosing the right type of latch, this is an important distinction to make between these two devices. Often, these devices will be used in conjunction with one another to fasten and lock a door.
However, a latch will be sufficient for many doors and gates if extra security is not required. After all, there are particular doors where you might not need or want a lock. In these instances, the correct door latch will be all that you need to properly fasten a gate or door.
Types of Door Latches
Overall, there are two main categories of door latches. These correspond to how these latches are attached to the door. First, we’ll take a look at the two types of internal door latches. Once we’ve done this, we’ll guide you through the many external door latch options!
Internal Door Latches
As mentioned above, we’ll first be taking a look at internal door latches. While these door latches are commonly fitted within the door or gate’s structure, they do not provide a secure locking mechanism. Instead, these internal door latches will ensure that the door or gate remains fastened when closed.
One of the most commonly used door latches, tubular latches are also commonly known as mortice latches. This name stems from the manner in which this latch is installed – or morticed – into the door itself. This process allows the latch to be controlled by a doorknob or door handle.
When this knob or handle is engaged, you’ll be able to open or close the door. When it comes down to internal door latches, this is the one that is most widely used by homeowners. There will be various tubular latches to choose from, which will vary in terms of quality.
An economy tubular latch is the cheapest type available today, with a shorter lifespan than other types. A standard tubular latch features the same basic concept and design but features a higher quality build. Double-sprung and heavy-sprung tubular latches are the strongest and most durable variants for this type of door latch.
The below video will provide you with a brief explanation of the process of installing a tubular latch, which will be similar to the installation process of the other internal door latches.
Flat latches are similar to tubular latches, as both are embedded into the structure of a door. Due to this, they also function in a similar manner to the type discussed above. However, these are more commonly used with heavy-duty doors where a locking mechanism isn’t needed.
Flat latches will be found in a wide majority of internal doors that do not need additional security. Like the previous type, flat latches are also controlled by means of a handle. When browsing different flat latches, you’ll find a variety of sizes, materials, and finishes to suit your needs.
Roller Bolt Latches
Like the previous internal door latches, roller bolt latches are also embedded within the actual door. Like the other types discussed above, you’ll be able to purchase these latches in a variety of sizes and materials. For instance, you can choose between brass and stainless steel.
The main difference between roller bolt latches and the other types of internal latches comes down to functionality. With the types discussed above, a door handle or knob will need to be engaged, which means you’ll need to lift the handle or twist the knob to open or close the door.
When you fit a roller bolt latch within a door, however, you’ll be able to simply pull your door open. The actual roller mechanism can be adjusted, allowing you to fine-tune the pressure needed to pull the door open. When closed, the latch will securely retain the door. This type of latch is commonly found in wardrobe doors.
In terms of internally fitted door latches, spring-loaded latches are a popular choice due to the sheer convenience they offer. This type of latch secures a door through the means of a compressed spring. However, this is generally considered a heavy-duty latch and is commonly used in the automotive industry.
However, there are many doors and windows that also utilize these spring-loaded latches. The size of these latches will vary depending on your desired use for the latch. You’ll also be able to find different material options. However, stainless steel is one of the most commonly used materials for these latches.
In many ways, spring-loaded latches function in a way similar to traditional deadlocks. However, these are door latches and not locking mechanisms, which is an important distinction to keep in mind. However, as far as internal latches go, these are highly effective and easy to use.
External Door Latches
In terms of external door latches, which are attached to the door and its frame, there are plenty of different types. While certain types of external door latches are commonly used within homes, many are utilized outside the home, too. Installing an external door latch is a simple process, making it perfect for those who need a latch.
Sliding Bolt Latches
Bolt latches are a popular choice for many homeowners. This type of latch utilizes a metal bolt or lock that can be used to securely fasten a door or gate. To open this type of latch, you simply need to slide the metal bolt to one side to unlock to door. To shut the door or gate, the rod can again be used to fasten this.
Many bolt latches do not come with any security locking mechanism. This means that they can be opened by anyone sliding the bolt. However, there are many types of bolt latches that will have accommodations for a padlock. This allows homeowners to add an additional layer of security to this type of door latch.
When browsing sliding bolt latches, there will be a variety of different options available, which will differ in size and material. Like internal door latches, there are two components to this type of latch. Of course, the main fixture with the sliding rod is attached to the gate or door. Then, an additional piece is attached to the frame to hold the bolt when it is closed.
The following video will explain the installation process for a sliding door latch!
Rim latches are commonly used indoors. In many ways, this type of external door latch has a similar appearance to tubular or flat latches that use knob handles. However, this type of latch is mounted on the outside of a door, making them less secure than morticed door latches that are embedded within a door frame.
Many rim latches will have doorknobs or a cylinder lock mechanism. When browsing rim latches, you’ll find that rim locks are commonly included in the same category. The distinction between rim latches and rim locks is a simple one: rim locks utilize the same mechanism but can also be locked for added security.
As far as door locks go, rim locks are not considered very secure to the external installation. However, if you’re looking for a latch for a door that doesn’t need to be locked, a rim lock will work perfectly. You’ll find many different styles and materials, such as bronze, brass, and iron.
Hook & Eye Latches
Hook and eye latches are most commonly used on gates. These latches are simple and effective, especially for outdoor use. Due to this, these latches are also commonly referred to as barn door hooks. Like other latches, this latch is installed with two separate components.
Firstly, an attachment holding the hook is attached to the gate itself. Then, an eye is attached to the frame. When the hook is placed within the eye, the gate will be kept securely fastened. Due to the basic nature of these latches, the installation process is easy to complete.
When finding the right hook and eye latch for your door, you’ll want to ensure you get a compatible size. You’ll also find a variety of material and color choices, allowing you to customize the appearance of this latch. There are a numerous ways to use these latches around the home!
Chain latches are another basic type of latch that is a popular choice for homeowners. This is one of the more distinctive types of latches, as it isn’t commonly used to secure a door. Furthermore, unlike other latches, this latch offers slightly more security.
Most commonly, chain latches are used in conjunction with other latches or locking mechanisms. That’s because chain latches serve a very particular purpose. Like other latches, there are two components that need to be installed. Firstly, a track is attached to the door itself. The chain is then attached to the frame.
When the chain’s end is inserted into the track’s slot, the door can be secured. When the door is unlocked, but the chain latch is secured, the person will be able to slightly open their door to look outside or talk to someone – without needing to fully open the door. This functionality makes this a popular type of door latch!
In terms of external door latch technology, swing-bar latches are swiftly replacing chain latches. In fact, many homeowners are now replacing their chain latches with this updated latch – which also offers an additional layer of security. Once again, this type of latch is commonly used in addition to the main locking mechanism, such as a deadbolt.
Like other latches, there are two different parts to install. However, the more important swing bar is installed on the door frame. On the door itself, a peg is installed that slots into the swing bar. Like chain latches, this allows homeowners to slightly open their door without fully opening it.
In terms of overall security, swing-bar latches are considered safer than chain bars. Despite different materials, it’s quite simple to snap a chain latch when a door is forcefully opened. A swing-bar latch, however, will be harder to open. If you’re considering a chain or swing-bar latch, you should go with the modern swing bar!
Gravity latches are another unique type of door latch. While the two previous external latches provided added security, gravity latches prioritize convenience. That’s because these latches are designed to be self-latching due to gravity. When you swing the gate closed, the slatch will slot into place and secure the gate.
Once again, two components need to be installed. These are typically installed on the inside of a fence. On the gate, you’ll attach a striker. On the frame, the latch mechanism will be installed. When you swing the gate closed, the striker will self-latch when it makes contact with the mechanism.
Many gravity latches are compatible with padlocks, allowing them to be locked. Many homeowners tend to use these latches on short gates to keep pets or children in a certain part of the home. When these latches are installed on short gates, they can be unlocked from either side. On tall gates, these latches will only be operational from one side of the gate.
As mentioned above, gravity latches can typically only be opened from one side. With ring latches, however, you’ll be able to engage the latch to open or close the door from either side. This functionality makes ring latches a popular option amongst homeowners, particularly for backyard gates.
While the latch will be installed on one side of the gate or door, the latch can be engaged from both sides via a ring-like handle. Many ring latches are also compatible with padlocks, allowing these latches to be locked for additional security.
There are many ring latches available today, allowing you to choose one that suits your needs, such as budget and style. For a better understanding of how this type of door latch is installed, you can watch the following video!
In many ways, thumb latches are a cross between gravity latches and ring latches. On the outside of a gate, there will be a metal plate and a mechanism known as a thumb depressor. On the inside of your gate, the latch mechanism with a securing lever will be installed.
When you engage the thumb depressor, the lever on the other side of the gate will be opened. You’ll be glad tik know the gate can also be opened from the side on which the latch is installed. It is how gates with these latches close that make them similar to gravity latches.
That’s because you can swing the gate closed, and the striker will self-latch the gate. This makes this another convenient latch to use outside the home. You’ll be able to find thumb latches that only fasten a door and variants that can be locked.
Night latches are one of the most secure types of latches, which verges on a door lock. This type of latch is installed on the exterior surface of the door and frame. In terms of appearance, night latches are visually similar to rim latches, which we discussed earlier.
Commonly, this type of door latch will be used alongside another latch or locking mechanism. However, night latches are a great additional layer of security that can be added to doors. You’ll be able to find night latches made from various materials and in different colors. There will be brass, chrome, and nickel options to choose from.
On the inside of the door, the actual latch will be installed. This features a knob that can be turned to unlock the latch from the inside. From the outside, a key will need to be used to engage the latch. Due to this functionality, night latches are commonly added to front doors in residential homes.
Choosing Your Door Latch’s Material
Now that we’ve outlined the various types of door latches that are available today, it’s also important to consider material. After all, your choice of material can greatly impact the functionality and appearance of your door or gate latch. Our guide to the most common materials used for latches will help you choose the right material for your needs!
Aluminum is a great lightweight material for door latches. Aluminum latches are durable and will be resistant to rust. However, given its lightweight nature, the metal will be more fragile than other latch materials. Aluminum is also one of the cheapest latch materials, making these latches very affordable for consumers.
Brass is one of the least common materials used for door latches. In fact, consumers might struggle to find brass latches, depending on where they live. Due to the stunning appearance of brass, many homeowners use this material to enhance the design elements in their homes. However, to maintain a brass level, it will need to be routinely polished.
As far as materials go, bronze latches will cost more than those made from other materials. However, the appearance of a bronze latch can accommodate a variety of interior styles. Bronze is also resistant to chipping and rust, making it a durable material choice. However, for a bronze latch, you’ll need to spend more.
When browsing different latches, consumers will come across many chrome latches. Often, latches made from this material are chosen for their shiny appearance. However, as a latch material, chrome is less durable than stainless steel. Chrome latches will also be more susceptible to chips and scratches over time when compared to other material choices for latches.
For the different types of door and gate latches discussed earlier, there will be many iron options. Iron latches are characterized by their black powder coating, which helps preserve the metal from the elements. This color also fits many design styles. Despite this coating, iron latches are known to be susceptible to rust. However, in areas where rust is not prevalent, iron latches will last for a long time.
In terms of appearance, stainless steel is comparable to aluminum. However, stainless steel is known for its high durability and resistance to pressure. While it’s possible to get a stainless-steel latch that is powder-coated, the natural silver color provides a great modern look. Stainless steel is also resistant to corrosion, making it a fantastic material choice for those who continually struggle with rust.
Whether you go for an internal or external door latch, there are plenty of fantastic options for you to choose from. While many of these perform the same basic function, many have unique features that make them stand out. With a wide variety of types, there’s sure to be the perfect type of latch to suit your relevant needs!
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