Mortise Lock vs Cylindrical Lock - Which one is right for you?

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When it comes to choosing the right lock for your doors, there are several options available in the market. Two of the most popular types are mortise locks and cylindrical locks. In this article, we will explore the key differences between these two types of door locks, their advantages, and which one might be the best fit for your needs.

Mortise Locks

Mortise locks are known for their durability and strength. They consist of a lock body, which is installed inside a recessed pocket (mortise) in the door's edge. This design provides excellent security and makes mortise locks more difficult to tamper with compared to other types of locks.

Mortise locks require a more complex installation process as they need a mortise cut out in the door. This additional effort is worth it for those looking for enhanced security. Their internal mechanisms include a latch bolt and a deadbolt, offering multiple levels of locking.

Cylindrical Locks

Cylindrical locks, also known as tubular locks, are widely used in residential and commercial buildings. They consist of a lock chassis with a cylindrical-shaped lock body that is installed through the door, along with a latch bolt. Cylindrical locks are commonly found in homes and offices due to their ease of installation and cost-effectiveness.

One of the main advantages of cylindrical locks is their versatility. They offer a wide range of designs and types of lock trim, including levers and escutcheon plates, allowing for customization to match the aesthetics of your doors. Additionally, cylindrical locks often come with built-in key cylinders for added convenience.

Differences between Mortise Locks and Cylindrical Locks

While both mortise locks and cylindrical locks serve the purpose of securing your doors, there are significant differences between the two:


Mortise locks require more labor-intensive and precise installation compared to cylindrical locks. They need a mortise pocket cut out on the door, making them more suitable for use in new constructions or when replacing existing mortise locks. On the other hand, cylindrical locks can be easily installed in both new doors and retrofit applications.


Due to their robust design and additional features like a deadbolt, mortise locks offer enhanced security, making them ideal for external doors or areas that require high levels of protection. Cylindrical locks, while still providing adequate security, are more commonly used in residential settings or interior doors.


Cylindrical locks offer more options when it comes to design, lock trim choices, and hardware compatibility. They are available in various finishes, lever styles, and functionalities, allowing homeowners to find the perfect match for their preference and door aesthetics. Mortise locks, while they may have limited options for customization, are highly regarded for their durability.


Cylindrical locks are generally more affordable compared to mortise locks. The complexity of mortise lock installations and the materials used contribute to their higher price point. However, the additional investment can pay off in terms of long-term security and durability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between mortise and cylindrical locks?

Mortise locks are installed inside a pocket (mortise) cut out in the door's edge, offering greater security and durability. Cylindrical locks, on the other hand, have a cylindrical-shaped lock body installed through the door and are commonly found in residential settings.

Why is a mortise lock better?

Mortise locks are known for their superior security and durability compared to cylindrical locks. They provide stronger resistance against forced entry, making them ideal for external doors or locations that require enhanced protection.

Is a mortise lock better than a normal lock?

Mortise locks are considered more robust and secure than standard cylindrical locks. However, the right choice depends on your specific needs and the level of security required.

Are cylindrical locks better?

Cylindrical locks are a popular choice due to their affordability, ease of installation, and versatility. They provide sufficient security for most residential applications and are commonly found in homes and offices.

What is the difference between a mortice lock and a normal lock?

A "normal" lock typically refers to a cylindrical lock, which is easy to install and commonly used in residential settings. In contrast, a mortise lock requires a more involved installation process and offers superior security and durability.

What is the point of a mortise lock?

The main purpose of a mortise lock is to provide enhanced security and durability. Mortise locks are often found in commercial buildings, high-security areas, or locations where greater protection is necessary.

What is the difference between a deadbolt and a mortice lock?

A deadbolt is a specific type of lock that can be installed as part of a mortise lock or independently. The deadbolt adds an extra layer of security by providing a heavy-duty locking mechanism that requires a key or thumbturn to operate.

How can you tell if a lock is mortise?

Mortise locks have a distinct installation process, with the lock body installed inside the door rather than attached to the surface. If the lock requires a mortise pocket cut out in the door's edge, it is likely a mortise lock.

Are mortise locks better?

Mortise locks are known for their superior security, durability, and resistance against forced entry. They are especially suitable for exterior doors and applications that demand a higher level of protection.

Is a cylindrical lock good?

Cylindrical locks are a reliable and cost-effective choice for most residential applications. With various design options and easy installation, they offer sufficient security and convenience.

What is the difference between a mortise and a lockset?

A mortise lock refers to the specific lock type that requires a mortise pocket cut out in the door and offers superior security. A lockset, on the other hand, is a general term that encompasses various lock types, including cylindrical locks.

What is a Mortice lockset?

A mortise lockset is a complete lock assembly that includes a mortise lock body, lock trim, and necessary hardware. It is specifically designed for installation inside a mortise pocket cut out in the door.

What is a mortise lock door?

A mortise lock door refers to a door that is prepared and equipped with a mortise lock. Mortise lock doors typically have a recessed space in the door's edge to accommodate the lock body.


Choosing between a mortise lock and a cylindrical lock depends on various factors, including security requirements, installation preferences, and budget constraints. Mortise locks offer enhanced security, durability, and customization options, making them ideal for external doors and locations that demand greater protection. Cylindrical locks, on the other hand, provide adequate security at a more affordable price point and are commonly found in residential settings.

Ultimately, it is essential to evaluate your specific needs and consult with a professional locksmith to determine the best type of lock for your doors. Whether you choose a mortise lock or a cylindrical lock, proper installation is crucial to ensure optimal security and performance.

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