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How to Lock a Push Bar Door? – 3 Easy & Simple Methods

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to lock a push bar door

Knowing how to lock a push bar door is a must when working in commercial spaces. This type of door is commonly used in emergency or fire exits, theaters, cinemas, schools, hospitals, public buildings, and commercial centers.

Evident in areas where it’s common, this type of door was made to avoid stampedes and crowd crushes in buildings during emergencies. Think of a fire situation when the crowd needs to rush outside a building.

However, some establishments are already using this mechanism as a primary lock, hence the necessity to secure it and not just leave a push door unlocked.

Step by Step to Lock a Push Bar Door Using a Secondary Lock


There are many types of secondary locks that can be used when you want to add security to your push bar door. Said locks are most effective in a commercial setting where the push bar is the primary lock.

  • A practical secondary lock without key is a stopper or any wedge that will obstruct the door.
  • There are also available portable locks or jammers.
  • For a permanent secondary security fixture, you can also use a security bar or a barricade. These two can be easily installed yet reliable, thanks for being straightforward. The point of these hardware is having an extra “anti-push” mechanism for your door.
  • You can even change a lock on a push bar door if you want it to be that secure, like using an extra deadbolt. You might need to fix a push bar door lock if you will be adding such hardware, so having a locksmith is practical.

How to Lock and Unlock Using a Key

What to prepare

  • You only need the dogging key or any other Allen key that can work with the latch.

Locking a push bar door can be done in a jiffy, and not even a manual is needed. Follow these steps when locking a push bar door from the inside.

Step 1: Check if the bar is pressed

When the push bar is pressed, the latch is fixed into the bar so anyone can open the door from the inside or outside. A pressed bar is most common in stores where there’s a need to keep a push bar door unlocked during business hours.

When the bar is pressed, the goal is to reveal the lock so as it meets the keeper. You can do so by finding the key and sticking it into the keyway, turning until the latch is exposed.

When the keyway is located in the press bar itself, you need to push it first before you insert and turn the key.

Step 2: Use the key

When the latch is released, pull the key from the panic bar lock cylinder, then insert it again. Turn it either clockwise or counterclockwise until you hear the latch meet with the keeper, thereby keeping the door locked.

Step 3: Lock the secondary lock (if there’s one)

After locking the push bar door, don’t forget to lock your secondary security fixture. It can be any of the previously mentioned stoppers, a barricade, or a bar.

How to Lock and Unlock Using the Thumb Turn

Some push bar doors have a fixed thumb-turn lock in the bar. This type of mechanism is common in schools and universities and practical when the door needs to be inaccessible and can’t be unlocked from the outside, say during a building lockdown.

Step 1: Check if the bar is pressed

As previously mentioned, you need to expose the latch if the bar is pressed. You can do so by simply turning the thumb latch clockwise or counterclockwise until you see the latch.

Step 2: Push the bar

After releasing the latch, push the bar and hold it while rotating the thumb turn. When you hear the click, you have successfully locked your door. After which, slowly release your hold from the bar.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


How do you lock a push bar door with a key?

When the keyway is in the actual push bar, you need to press it, then insert the key and turn it until the door locks. When the hole is in the frame, simply stick the key in and turn it until the door locks.

How does a push bar lock work?

You need to push bar to open door, and its lock works when the latch is exposed and meets with the keeper. A simple turn of the key or the thumb-turn locks and unlocks the door from the inside.

How do you unlock a push lock door?

Though a push bar door was made without a knob, it still has a latching system. Hence, locking it is always possible.

A push bar door lock mechanism involves a key though its keyway is not common. As the name suggests, the door can be easily opened by pushing the bar. The bar has a latch (that looks like a mortise) that meets the keeper when the door is closed.

You can stick the key into the hole, then turn it clockwise or counterclockwise to unlock the door. The same goes when the unit has a fixed thumb-turn latch.

Assuming you lost your key, you can use any other dogging keys for defeating the latch system. In fact, you can use an Allen key from another door so you can lock your push bar door.

How to lock and unlock from the outside

Some units, especially a door bar lock commercial establishments use, are added with an outside access device so it can only be opened with a specific key. A standard push lock for door was made to be locked from the inside so having an external keyway is ideal.


Push bar doors are not always unlocked especially when not being used as an emergency exit. What’s good about this type of door is its efficiency in areas with high foot traffic. This door is practical and can be a lifesaver in times of crisis.

Knowing how to lock a push bar door is a must in stores to avoid break-ins and in schools to counter attempted break-ins. Having a push bar door’s key readily available is a matter of security.

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