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The situation is this: I live in a rented flat in a building. There is a door that allows access to the building, which can be opened from the outside only with the key.

After that, there is the door to my flat. It has a mortise lock and I have a couple of issues with it:

  • Both the inside and outside handles can operate the latch
  • The deadbolt does secure the door but it is only one turn

I am not familiar with how these things work in the UK, I only recently moved here, but that doesn't sound really secure to me.

I am looking for a solution to better secure the door with only one caveat: all the doors in the building seem to have the same finish, and I would prefer to avoid change that, so I would prefer to avoid adding a second lock, as it would be visible from the outside, and I would keep the same handle and plates, at least outside.

Is there a mortice lock that would resolve the two above issues? I would have someone else buy and fit it, so some terminology that I could use to better have him understand what I want is welcome.

P.S. Door is a wooden door, not sure the type of wood.

EDIT: I add a few photos of the setup that might be useful to identify all the pieces. My main objective is improve security when I am not home.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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    What exactly do you mean when you state that the deadbolt "does secure the door but it is only one turn"? And why is that a security concern for you? Jul 23 at 5:32
  • @JimmyFix-it I mean that to fully extend the deadbolt I have to fully rotate the key only once, as opposed to other locks I am used to where you need to fully rotate the key multiple times to fully extend it, with each turn partially extending the deadbolt.
    – bracco23
    Jul 23 at 10:18
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    Make sure you have permission in writing to make any modifications. You might discover that it's rather expensive to have them replace things when you move out. Even if they're replacing higher quality parts with lower quality but "standard" parts.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 23 at 17:59
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    @bracco23, you don't have data to support it because it is a myth. Back in "the day", deadbolts typically threw out about 1/2". Then they came out with the "double-throw" which extended the bolt 1". Modern deadbolts all throw 1" or deeper now, making the turning of the lock cylinder twice to achieve the same effect... silly. Primary mode of door failure to thieves/intruders is broken jamb caused by kick, broken wood door, or picked lock. Fix those three things to improve your security. Jul 26 at 23:46
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    IMO (1) the deadbolt you have is fine, and (2) if you're renting, you shouldn't do anything to it without the landlord's permission in writing. But you don't need to do anything. I have lived in the UK all my life and never seen a deadbolt you have to turn the key more than once to lock/unlock.
    – kaya3
    Aug 22 at 22:34
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Without a photo, it sounds like your door, latch, and lock are common (at least in the midwest US where I live). The only thing you're missing that would provide an extra layer of security without showing on the outside of the door is an additional lock or set of locks. There are variations of these, and some people will add several different types to until they feel comfortable with the level of safety the locks provided.

Try one or more of these:

Door chain

enter image description here

Barrel bolt

enter image description here

Single cylinder deadbolt

enter image description here

Privacy door latch (couldn't find a brass one)

enter image description here

Swing bar lock

enter image description here

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  • Thanks for the answer. I will attach a few photos of the door lock to give an idea of the setup if that is helpful. Those would definitely help secure it when I am home, I am however more concerned to have better security when I am not home, and sadly those are not really helpful for that.
    – bracco23
    Jul 22 at 21:05
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    Keep in mind , the door jam / frame may be the weak-link with a stronger latch. Jul 22 at 21:34
  • All of these locks secure the door on the inside while you are inside. None of these locks are made to be operated from the outside. -- The one latch, which you called a "Privacy door latch", can be purchased with more pieces that create a keyed entry from the outside. That would require another hole through the door and may be the best solution.
    – Paul
    Aug 21 at 23:47
  • IINM, the single cylinder deadbolt can be keyed for outside access, thus adding a 2nd key/deadbolt for protection when not at home. The cylinder could be keyed the same as the primary lock for convenience or differently for extra security from picking/key theft.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 12:55
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Screen Door Lock

The lock you have is a lock of the same type which is used to secure a high quality screen door. You have that type of lock because the building is old. The door thickness, make, cut, and style are from the days when skeleton key locks were used. And no, they were not very secure. Granted, the dead bolt is not fantastic, but the dead bolt is secure enough. If the dead bolt is dead (cannot be pushed back when extended) and it grabs enough of the door jamb that it would break the jamb if kicked open, then the dead bolt is good enough. A battering ram will blow open any door. The problem in this lock style is that the lock is easily picked. Yesterday, everyone figured out how to pick these locks. In time, people forget.

Note: The more I look at the door, the more I think it is a new door of a new make. If that is the case, then I have no idea why such an expensive lock was installed into it.

One solution is to use the "Privacy door latch" from the other answer which is purchasable with a keyed entry where the key can be used on the outside and the lock sits flush on the door on the inside. That would be the easiest solution. But, there is no solution which does not change the look of the door and adds security while you are away.

If the door is thick enough, then you can add a dead bolt which extends into the jamb itself. If the door is not thick enough, then you cannot have any new style lock. If you want a new style lock, beyond replacing the door which is made out of wood that cannot be purchased today, or add another dead bolt, there is not much you can do. The huge square hole which is occupied by the lock would have to be fitted with fill lumber and finished to make smooth. All of the holes that go through the door would have to be treated the same way. Then you would have to create new holes that define what is needed to install a lock of the new harder to pick style on the door. Sand, good luck getting a texture match. Paint the door both sides. Install the new lock -- and no, it won't look like the other doors.

I highly recommend that you get permission from the building owner before attempting either skilled operation or you are likely to find yourself thrust evicted by a very angry land lord.

Battering Ram

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  • A couple things: 1) it might be possible to replace the existing mortise hardware with a new mortise latchset without too many changes to the door prep (one'd have to know the existing prep cuts to be sure, but that's not unlikely, especially on a new door) 2) the term you're after for a "skeleton key" lock is a warded lock, btw 3) I personally would like to see someone try to battering-ram some of the doors used for storm shelter apps -- they're extra-heavy-duty hollow-metal with 3-point latching hardware and get impact tested with a 15lb (6.8kg) 2x4 stud traveling at 100mph (44.7m/s) Aug 22 at 0:00
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Installing the door chain lock is a simple and low-cost solution to increase home security. The chain lock adds added protection to residential or apartment doors. It allows me to check who is knocking on our front door first because it keeps the door slightly open. This stops an invader from accessing our home right away.

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  • From the original question: "My main objective is improve security when I am not home." A chain lock won't help with that.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 7 at 13:34

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