I am looking for a lock and handle mechanism for an exterior door that is always openable from the inside. E.g. locking with a key locks the exterior handle from opening the latch, but the interior handle always opens the door. Furthermore, operating the interior handle will not disengage the lock on the exterior handle. The closest analogy would be a commercial fire door, which remains locked but always allows egress.

Does a lock with the features I described above exist for residential or commercial markets, and do they go under a special name?

  • It seems to my that you answered your question as you asked it, "a commercial fire door, which remains locked but always allows egress"...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 29 at 12:45

6 Answers 6


This type of lock is usually commercial, and it's called a storeroom lock. They typically have a keyed lock on the outside and no access control on the inside. The inside is always unlocked so you can't trap someone in a closet, but the outside can be locked or unlocked with a key (and only the key).

Here is example of one lock from a random door lock site... Not a recommendation. https://www.directdoorhardware.com/schlage_commercial_a80pd-tul.htm

  • Ahhh finally a keyword I can use: storeroom lock. I found many examples of this, including another style called "classroom" locks. Thank you
    – cms
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 21:55
  • 1
    Note that a true storeroom function is opened with the key, not just unlocked Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 0:14
  • The front door locks in our 1970 tract development originally had a lock that allowed one to unlock on the inside with a thumb tab, but the outside stayed locked. this led to numerous incidents of people locked out of their houses. Commented Feb 29 at 11:35

They also make panic bar (???) type door handles, like the ones below (from Amazon). But these seem to be for more commercial type applications. Our church has these on a couple of the doors.

enter image description here


The feature you want is available in a cylinder lock as a turn/push locking knob or in a mortice lock as a mortice lock with toggle button.

The cylinder version, instead of pushing a button to lock, you turn it or you push and turn it. A lot of people swap them out so they don't get locked out all the time. Too bad you can't just grab someone's discard.

The mortice version is selectable! The toggle button is sometimes called a "stop" or "release" button.

enter image description here

Here is a diagram from one maker showing how three different variants of its mortice lock behave. One has a toggle and also a separate deadbolt that bypasses the toggle, one has only the toggle, and one has neither.

enter image description here

Neither of these is commonly sold in big hardware stores but they are easy to find at locksmiths or online. The mortice version is extremely common in apartment buildings and in many countries. In the US where cylinder locks are more common for houses, the push/turn type might be easier to install if your door is already set up for one.


I googled Schlage door unlocked inside and found this:


There are many types. Some keep the outside locked and some can be unlocked.

  • Thanks but "The Outside Lever Is Locked By Push Button Inside And Unlocked By Emergency Release Outside" is slightly different than what I am looking for.
    – cms
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 21:58

I have this Schlage knob on my exterior doors. It has a lock button on the inside that pushes then turns, and then the knob can be opened from the inside at will (keeping the exterior knob locked) but only with a key from the exterior.

When locked, it functions like the storeroom lock mentioned in another answer, but it can also be unlocked if you choose.

Description of this type of lock from the Schlage link above:

Turn/push-button locking; pushing and turning button locks outside knob, requiring use of key until button is manually unlocked. Push-button locking; pushing button locks outside knob until unlocked by key or by turning inside knob. Includes Schlage “C” keyway cylinder.

It's been years since I ordered it, but I seem to recall there being three choices for the type of interior lock button.

  • One type pushes only, and is unlocked when turned from the inside.
  • Another type turns only, and will not open from the inside until turned back.
  • The third type, which I have, both pushes and turns, combining the features of both other types.

Be careful, I locked myself out a couple times!

  • To be clear: if you turn the interior knob while the button is engaged, does the button disengage?
    – cms
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 13:42
  • The inside button only disengages while opening the door if you did not also twist it. If you push then twist, it stays engaged until you manually disengage it, even if the key is used.
    – izzy
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 15:08

I can't find an example online just now, but my last apartment had both a deadbolt and an in-knob lock on the front door. It was a single unit, and even though there's a lever (on the inside) to move the deadbolt, if I moved the inside knob-lever, it released both the in-knob and the deadbolt locks.

So it's gotta be out there somewhere.

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