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What Is a Cylinder Lock? Important Points for You to Know!

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

what is a cylinder lock

What is a cylinder lock? A cylinder lock includes a keyhole and the internal locking mechanism of the cylinder. It also has pins with different lengths that can only be unlocked by the right key.

Many people prefer cylinder locks because they are easy to install. Also, a locksmith can alter the keyed cylinder when rekeying a lock without the need to change the bolt hardware. You will have a deeper understanding of how cylinder lock works by reading the information below.


Types of Cylinder Locks


There are different types of cylinder locks that you can choose from. Although their main function is to provide security, each has unique features that can suit the needs of the homeowners.

Rim cylinder locks

A rim cylinder lock is typically mounted at the surface of the door by simply securing it with screws. Once the lock is installed, the body of the lock remains visible. In terms of the bolt, it commonly includes a spring-loaded sliding latch bolt or a deadlocking bolt.

Since most rim cylinder locks are warded, they are only used as obstructions but not as entry door locks. The screws are visible and can be easily removed. Aside from that, rim locks cannot stand the force of strong kicks.

Most homeowners use rim cylinder locks to increase their privacy inside their homes. These locks are usually installed in bedrooms and bathrooms. Because of their classic and elegant design, they are also used for aesthetic purposes.

Double cylinder locks

Allowing locking and unlocking on both sides of the door, a double cylinder lock is preferred by many because of the security it offers. It would take a key to lock and unlock the door since there is no thumb turn.

This lock is often placed near glass panels. This would prevent burglars from breaking in even if they break the glass. Without the key, it is impossible to unlock a double cylinder lock.

However, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code 101 prohibits the use of double cylinder locks for egress doors. With these locks installed, the owner of the house would find it difficult to immediately get out of the house in case of a fire emergency.

Euro cylinder locks

Euro cylinder lock, also called a barrel lock and pin tumbler, is widely used in residential and commercial properties. It is easy to combine with different locks because of its “keyed alike” feature.

There are different types of euro cylinder locks such as a full or double euro cylinder, full thumb-turn euro cylinder, half or single euro cylinder, and half thumbturn euro cylinder. Users prefer this lock because they can be used on many door materials.

Mortise cylinder locks

Although a mortise cylinder lock looks like a rim cylinder lock, they are totally different in various aspects. Mortise cylinders have threaded exteriors and cams while rim cylinder locks have stems and bolts.

In terms of lock bodies, mortise cylinder locks are fitted inside the door so they cannot be easily seen. Rim cylinder locks, on the other hand, have visible lock bodies since they are located outside the door.

Door cylinder vs Core

Aside from knowing the different types of cylinder locks, it is also necessary that you can differentiate a door cylinder from a core so that you won’t be confused when you choose a cylinder lock for your door.

The core is just one part of the cylinder that holds the pins of the lock. Meanwhile, the term “door cylinder” or “lock cylinder” refers to the lock core plus the housing that contains it.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between a single cylinder lock and a double cylinder lock?

A single cylinder lock is operated with a key on the outside and a thumb turner on the inside. A double cylinder, on the other hand, is operable by keys on both the inside and outside of the door.

Can a cylinder lock be used for a storage unit?

Many prefer a cylinder lock for storage unit since the lock mechanism is secured inside the cylinder and cannot be easily cut. Also, it is pick-proof, drill-proof, and strike-proof. Although, you still can drill a cylinder lock with some tricks.


Now that you can answer the question “what is a cylinder lock”, deciding if you need this lock becomes easier. A cylinder lock includes the keyhole and the locking mechanism of the cylinder. It also has different types.

Knowing the differences between a door cylinder and a core will also helzp you decide what to pick for your door.

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