What are the Different Types of Locks and Keys

If you are like most people, you definitely don’t know much about locks and keys. Even though you use different types of locks and keys daily for your car, residential home, office, and other applications, you haven’t really thought about them. But yet, you put a lot of trust in them to protect you, your loved ones, and your properties.

Coincidentally, you are not alone in this. There is a pool of other individuals who care less about the types of keys and locks they use, yet, expect much from them. This is why BE-TECH, a reputable lock and key manufacturer, have written this post to discuss all you need to know about the different types of security locks and keys.

Common Types of Locks

There are different types of locks and each of them work in their unique way. In the next series of paragraphs, we will discuss them, breaking down their ins and outs.


Deadbolt 1
Source: Shutterstock 

Deadbolts are mostly used on external doors in residential homes. They are used with knob locks for optimal security. For deadbolts to function properly, they use a rotating cylinder that drives a bolt into the door frame, and it cannot be removed unless the locking cylinder is rotated again. To test the security level of your deadbolt, you can use the lock picking method.

Deadbolts are available in three different styles – single cylinder, double cylinder, and lockable thumb turn. The single-cylinder is the most popularly found deadbolt style in residential houses. The locking mechanism can be activated through two methods. The first method is the key cylinder, which is on one side of the deadbolt, and the rotating thumb turn on the other side.

The double cylinder deadbolt, on the other hand, uses key cylinders on both sides of the lock. In this style, the key is needed to unlock the door from the inside, which can cause a fire hazard.

The last but not the least style is the lockable thumb turn. It features a key cylinder on one side of the lock and a thumb turn on the other side. The lockable thumb turn deadbolt is similar to the single-cylinder deadbolt. The only disparity is that the lockable thumb turn style has a lockable key cylinder that allows you to lock the thumb turn.

Mortise Locks

electronic Mortise Lock
Source: betechiot

The mortise lock combines two different styles of locks into a single device. The first style is a non-locking latch that is operated with a lever handle. The other lock style is a deadbolt that functions as secondary security.

Mortise locks have dual-action functions, which means they can be used as a deadbolt and a door knob. However, mortise locks are far stronger than deadbolts and door knobs, and they need expert skills to install them. Just like deadbolts and door knobs, they are vulnerable to lock picking, but offer more protection against forced entry.


Source: Shutterstock 

Amongst all types of locks, the most commonly used option is the padlock. It’s quite different from other locks in the sense that it is not permanently attached to anything, and it has a portable design. Padlocks are in a variety of sizes and are used together with a shackle to secure items. There are two options for padlocks. The first is keyed padlock, and the second is combination padlock.

Just as the name implies, keyed padlocks make use of keys to disengage the locking mechanism. They can be configured to retain or allow the removal of keys. A key-retaining padlock does not allow the removal of the key when the lock is open. A non-key-retaining padlock, on the other hand, allows the key to be removed when the lock is still open. This means that the key cylinder can be taken out and replaced with a new one, enabling you to use a different key.

Combination padlocks involve the input of a series of numbers in an appropriate sequence to open locks. These types of padlocks are more secure when hard-to-guess combinations are used.

The downside of padlocks in general is that they can be easily compromised using heavy and sharp objects like hammers, drills, and bolt cutters.

Knob Locks

electronic Knob Lock
Source: Pinterest

A knob lock is one of the main types of lock mechanisms on both internal and external doors for residential houses. It features many parts, such as a key cylinder that’s located on one side and a rotatable knob that’s situated on the other side for control.

Alone, knob locks are weak and unsuitable for external doors. For optimal security, they should be used with deadbolts. All it takes for intruders to remove the knob is a hammer and pliers to knock out the locking mechanism. These types of locks are also vulnerable to lock picking and shimming.

Lever Handle Locks

Lever Handle Lock 1
Source: Shutterstock 

Lever handle locks are commonly used on the internal doors of commercial establishments. These locks function by using a lever that can swing up and down to release the bolt. They share a similarity with knob locks in their construction as they have a key cylinder on one side and a rotatable turn knob on the other side.

They are very simple to operate, which is why they are preferred in commercial buildings where there is a large flow of crowd, as well as physically disabled areas.

The downside of the lever handle lock is that it can be easily compromised with lock picking and the resting of a lot of weight on the lever. However, this can be remedied with the use of ‘clutch’ levers that don’t put pressure on the locking mechanism when force is placed on the lever.

Furniture Locks

Furniture Lock
Source: Shutterstock 

It is as it sounds – furniture lock. It’s a lock used on a piece of furniture. Mostly, you’ll find them attached to drawers and cabinets. Furniture locks have different qualities. They shouldn’t be relied on for total security, rather they should be used in conjunction with other effective locks. You can have them in two styles – bolt style and push-button style.

In the bolt style, a piece of flat metal is inserted sideways into the lock. Bolt style furniture locks are commonly seen on desks, drawers, and cabinets.

In the push-button style, a rod is inserted through the back of the lock. The retracting rod is easily popped back into the lock’s main body when the lock has been unlocked. They are commonly seen on cabinets and sliding doors.

Euro Profile Cylinders

Euro Profile Cylinder
Source: Shutterstock 

Just as the name implies, these are locks commonly found across Europe. They can also be seen on some sliding doors in North America. There are three variations to this lock. They are single cylinder, double cylinder, and single cylinder with a thumb turn.

The single-cylinder lock is operated with a key or rotating thumb turn on one side of the lock. You’ll see this often on sliding doors that can only be opened and closed from the inside.

Similar to deadbolts, the double cylinder operates with a key to control the locking mechanism on both sides of the lock.

The single-cylinder with a thumb turn uses a locking cylinder on one side of the lock and a rotatable thumb turn on the other side.

Cabinet Locks

smart Cabinet Lock
Source: betechiot

This comprises locks that are suitable for locking cabinets. They ensure that your properties remain as you left them. They are usually used in homes, offices, gyms, and other places. For the best cabinet security, it is advisable to use electronic locks, such as Cyber II RFID. These locks provide tight security that prevents easy breakage.

Cam Locks

Cam Lock
Source: Shutterstock 

A cam lock is formed of a cylindrical base with a keyhole and metal piece known as the cam. The cam is attached perpendicularly to the end of the base. It’s a type of latch that is used in lockboxes, mailboxes, filing cabinets, and other low-security appliances. They are available in different lengths and styles; they are one of the most customizable locks around.

Wall Mounted Locks

Wall Mounted Lock
Source: Shutterstock 

Just as their name suggests, wall-mounted locks are usually attached to the wall. This type of lock often comes in the form of a firefighter’s box style. In large firms, they are used to store emergency access keys.

Wall-mounted locks are easier to install when the building is still being built. However, some of them can still be installed on existing structures.

Different Types of Keys

Since the first appearance of keys in Babylon and Egypt, many types have been made and their constructions have been different. As an extension of the development, a good digital door lock factory now makes advanced keys that ease the unlocking and locking of door processes.

Below are the major types of keys available.

Keycard Keys

Keycard Key
Source: Shutterstock 

Keycard keys have a completely different appearance from other keys. They have magnetic strips that match the locking mechanism to unlock a door. A very common place where these keys are used is a hotel. It allows the management to easily regulate which keycard opens a door and the doors the keycards cannot open.

These keys are also used in high-security areas like government offices. Instead of workers carrying a bunch of keys to open different doors, the keycards can be programmed to open every door in the office.

Dimple Keys

Dimple Keys
Source: Shutterstock 

These keys are designed to have cone-shaped dimples that help ease the process of unlocking the locks. The locks as well are designed to have corresponding dimples, which makes the keys match with them. One factor that makes dimple keys very easy to use is that there are two dimple sets in the lock and the dimples on the key are aligned to match them. This means that whatever positions you insert the key, the lock will be unlocked.

Double and Four-Sided Keys

Double and Four Sided Keys
Source: Shutterstock 

These are the most common types of keys that can be used to secure your house. These keys are recognizable from their teeth; they usually have two or four sets of teeth. The four-sided key is a better choice for maximum security because it can’t be easily duplicated. This prevents burglars from attacking homes with this type of key and lock.

If you want to make your home more secure, you can change the keys and locks to this type. It’s very cheap and easy to install.

Tubular Keys

Tubular Keys
Source: Shutterstock 

Tubular keys, which are also called ‘barrel keys,’ are used to open tubular pin tumbler locks. They are designed to have a cylindrical, hollow shaft that’s shorter and wider in diameter than standard keys. These keys can also be used on bike locks and vending machines.

Tubular keys are very difficult to duplicate. This is the major reason why they are highly preferred. This means that if you use a tubular key, you don’t have to worry about security because it’s extremely unlikely that someone would duplicate it.

Skeleton Keys

Skeleton Key
Source: Shutterstock 

This is also called ‘passkey.’ The serrated edge of the key is typically sanded down, enabling it to open several locks. While the name may sound scary, it is named ‘skeleton key’ because the construction of the key has been reduced to its most basic components.

Skeleton keys are easy to make. All you have to do is to remove the middle of the key. Many people condemn this key because ordinary keys can be reduced to this shape, and used for illegal purposes.

Transponder Keys

Transponder Key
Source: Shutterstock 

This kind of key is also known as the ‘chip key.’ Transponder keys are commonly used in cars, and they work by sending a radio signal to the cars. They are very difficult to duplicate, making it difficult for someone to steal your car.

In fact, there are some types of cars that will shut down if the wrong transponder keys are used on them, thereby eliminating the chances of car theft. Even the transponder key that’s used for your car won’t be able to start any other vehicle as it has a microchip that’s preset to the ignition code.

Laser Cut Car Key

Laser Cut Car Key
Source: Robinsons Hardware

These keys resemble mechanically cut automobile keys in terms of form and shape, but they are far more complex and accurate, providing the user with additional security. Sometimes they are referred to as ‘sidewinder keys,’ and they feature patterns and ridges on both sides of the keys. The result of this is that they become harder to replicate, which is excellent. A sample of this key cannot be made without access to specialized equipment.

Valet Key

Valet Key
Source: Shutterstock 

Valet keys are made specifically to unlock car doors and enable the holder to start the vehicle. They have RFID chips, but they are coded to prevent access to other areas of the car. This means that this key prevents you from accessing parts of the car like the trunk, trunk release, and glove box, thereby providing more privacy and protection.

Contrary to popular belief, door keys and valet keys are not the same things. Door keys can only open the door, they can’t start the car.

Primary Keys

Primary Key
Source: Shutterstock 

Unlike other keys that are manufactured to open specific locks, primary keys are made to open several locks. These types of keys are beneficial to people who need to open several doors like janitors. Primary keys are also helpful in emergencies as they can open all doors.

Paracentric Keys

Paracentric Lock
Source: eBay 

Paracentric Keys can only open paracentric locks. They have an outstanding shape and design that makes them easy to recognize. While these keys are very scarce in homes and offices, they are the preferred choice for prisons. Due to their shape and design, it’s very difficult to duplicate them.

Cruciform Keys

Cruciform Key
Source: Shutterstock 

The shape of the key makes it easy to identify. Although they are majorly used in industrial buildings, they can also be used anywhere you want to ensure that you have a reliable lock and key that would be incredibly difficult to lock. Cruciform keys have three sets of teeth that are positioned at a  90-degrees angle to one another.

Magnetic Keys

Magnetic Key
Source: Shutterstock 

These types of keys use magnets to lock and unlock the door. When the magnets are positioned properly, a push or pull within the lock will move the internal tumblers, allowing the lock to release. It’s a passive locking system that works properly without any kind of electronics.

Smart Car Keys

Smart Car Key
Source: Shutterstock 

These keys are way above other options on the market. Even while they look similar to transponder keys, they offer higher security and convenience than them. When they are faulty, the remedy you can provide is to take them to a professional for help. This boosts their difficulty to duplicate.

With a smart car key, you can lock and unlock your car doors from outside, and can even ignite the car engine.

VAT Keys

Source: Shutterstock 

VAT keys, which is an acronym for Vehicle Anti Theft keys are advanced keys that have microchips inside them. These microchips have codes that are linked to your car alone. The reason for this is to prevent the use of your key with another car, and the use of other keys with your car. They are excellent deterrents since duplicating them requires in-depth technological know-how.

Abloy Keys

Abloy Key
Source: Shutterstock 

It’s difficult to duplicate these types of keys. They are used on disc tumbler locks with a springless system. These locks are perfect for your front & back doors, and garages. They are one of the most secure locks you can use at home to prevent burglars from entering. Abloy locks are used by most homes in Finland.

Uses of Keys

Keys are used for several applications; this shows how versatile they are. Below are the most common uses of keys.


Home Application
Source: Freepik 

Keys are used in homes to lock all openings for security purposes. They ensure that lives and properties are safe from intruders. Applications of keys at home include doors, windows, garages, gates, etc.


Office Application
Source: Shutterstock 

All office buildings have locks and keys on the doors. This is done primarily for safety reasons, and only workers that have the right key can open these doors. In large buildings with many offices, a bunch of keys will be needed to access every door if you don’t have a master key.


Hotel card lock
Source: betechiot

A hotel smart lock factory that manufactures security keys is appreciated by hotel management. Nowadays, in addition to mechanical keys, hotel card locks are also used.


Safe Application
Source: Unsplash

A safe is a rigid box that houses your valuables. You can lock and unlock by using programmed codes or keys. They are commonly found in many places, such as hotels, banks, bars, etc.


Cabinet Application
Source: Unsplash

A key in conjunction with a smart drawer cabinet lock is used to store valuables and confidential documents. They are used in offices and homes to store important things.


Car Application
Source: Shutterstock 

Every modern car is operated with a key. These keys are used to open and close cars from intruders. Other than that, they are used to start the car engine, open the trunk, and so on.


Diary Application
Source: Shutterstock 

Keys and locks are used for diaries when you want to keep your thoughts to yourself. This is a mechanism used to prevent other people from seeing what your diary contains.

New Lock Technology

Mechanical lock systems mentioned are beginning to go into extinction, and with the continual advancement in technology, they will soon fade out. This is because a new and more protective lock system has been discovered. These are smart locks in China that are manufactured by BE-TECH, a reliable lock specialist.

These locks offer advanced security solutions like locking and unlocking of the door with various devices, such as RFIDs, keypads, PIN codes, passwords, biometrics, and smartphones.

They provide premium convenience like operating doors from remote locations. These locks also offer top-notch security as only the owner will have access to opening the door, and any forceful or wrong code attempt will be flagged, causing the alarm to ring. To crown it all, they can be combined with other types of locks to make them more secure and usable by everyone.


In this post, we’ve mentioned the different types of locks and keys, as well as their construction and how they function. We believe that after this, you will have solid knowledge that will help you make the right decision when choosing the appropriate lock and key for any of your applications.

Blogs you may be interested in:

  1. How does RFID door lock system work
  2. Difference between Deadbolt vs knob lock vs handle lock
  3. Types of key card access system
  4. What is the electronic lock

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