Introduction to Mortice locks
The literal meaning of the word Mortice is a recess in the door in which the lock is fitted. Therefore, a mortice lock is simply a lock that is installed within that recess in the door. Mortice locks are most popular in wooden (timber) doors and most prevalent in Europe and the United Kingdom. The most popular brand of mortice locks in the UK is Chubb, which is why they are often referred to as Chubb Locks in Britain.
There are two types of Mortice lock available, which are deadlocks and sash locks. A deadlock is typically installed on external doors, whereas sash locks feature a latch mechanism, combined with a handle and typically installed on internal doors. Essentially, latches are a feature designed for convenience, so as to enable the door to be open and shut without the need for a key. However, a deadlock is a mechanism that’s only used to lock a door, without the convenience of a latch. In the main, you’ll only find deadlocks on external timber doors.
Mortice locks can then be further split up into two categories; cylinder mortice locks and lever mortice locks. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Cylinder Mortice Lock
A cylinder mortice lock features a bolt, rather than a key that fits directly into the lock. Cylinder mortice locks are most popular in commercial buildings, although they are becoming much more common in residential properties due to being more flexible with restricted keys and master suites.
Typically, these locks are installed with an oval profile cylinder or a euro profile cylinder, which is capable of being key operated from either both sides of the door or from one side of the door, with a thumb turn mechanism on the inside.
Lever Mortice Locks
Many domestic properties in the United Kingdom make use of the lever mortice locks as they are extremely similar in the way they operate. When a key is inserted into the lock and turned, the levers move to the correct height, enabling the bolt to be both locked and be unlocked.
There are various types of Lever mortice locks that are designed to fit various different thicknesses of the door and application. Typically speaking, the more levers on a mortice lock that are stacked within the lock case, the thicker the lock is.
The keys also differ when more levers are present, so it’s not likely that another key will be used to open other locks. A lock with 5 levers is more secure than locks with 2 or 3 levers.
Read on to find out more about locks with differing amount of levers:
2-3 Lever Mortice Locks: This lock has between 2-3 levers and a thin lock case, which makes it appropriate for installation in interior doors that are less than 45mm thick and in which a high degree of security isn’t required. In fact, the lack of security offered by 2 lever mortice locks means that they are not suitable for use in external doors. From a locksmith’s perspective, in an emergency situation, a 2-3 lever lock is a lot quicker and often cheaper to open.
5 Lever Mortice Locks: There are different sizes of lock cases, which are used on thinner internal and external doors requiring a medium level of security. As a locksmith, it takes more time to open this type of lock. This is why a 5 lever mortice lock is essential for a front timber door. The longer it takes for a burglar to get in, the better it is for you.
5 Lever British Standard Mortice Locks (BS 3621): 5 lever British Standard mortice locks have the same features as standard 5 lever mortice locks, with the addition of anti-drill plates on either side of the lock case and a larger, reinforced deadbolt. This type is most suitable for internal doors of at least 45mm in thickness, as well as external doors that require a high level of security. This type of lock also features an anti-lock picking design with false levers making it impossible for even the most adept burglars to get in.
Since most insurance companies require that your exterior locks are of at least BS3621 standard, it’s something that you should check. It’s an easy thing to spot, as the British Standard Kite Mark is usually stamped on the faceplate of the lock around the edge of the door.
If you have any problems locating the mark, you can contact us at R&M Locksmiths to help you identify whether your locks are of the requisite British Standard quality. We can also help provide and install British Standard locks in the event that you don’t have any in your home.