Double vs. Single Cylinder Deadbolt: Which Is Better for Your Home?

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated November 22, 2021
Family walking out the front door with a suitcase
Monkey Business –

There are some key differences between single cylinder and double cylinder deadbolts

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Doors have a big impact on the inner and outer appearance of your home. From a canary yellow Craftsman door to a bright white French patio door, style and security go hand in hand. Learn all about single versus double cylinder deadbolts to decide which one is right for your home.

What’s the Difference Between a Single Cylinder and Double Cylinder Deadbolt?

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Wendy –

Whether you’re coming home from a long day at work or leaving to make a quick run to the store, single and double cylinder deadbolts will both reliably safeguard your home.

But the key difference between them is their locking mechanism. 

Single Cylinder Deadbolts

Single cylinder deadbolts are the most common locks for residential homes in the country. It’s a lock that has a key slot on one side, while the other side uses a thumb-turn mechanism to unlock or lock it. Usually, the key slot is facing the outside of your home while the thumb-turn is inside. 

Double Cylinder Deadbolts

On the other hand, double cylinder deadbolts use a key on both sides of the door to lock and unlock it. So, essentially, you’ll need a key to leave or enter your home. 

Pros of Single Cylinder Deadbolts

What are some of the benefits of having a single cylinder lock versus a double cylinder and vice versa? Let’s look at where each one shines and possible shortcomings, depending on your needs. 


One of the reasons this deadbolt type is more popular is because it’s inexpensive. The cost of single cylinder deadbolt locks is $20 to $70. And when you need multiple locks around your home, price is an important factor.  


Only needing to turn your deadbolt when locking or unlocking your door is convenient. And the same applies when you need to leave your home in case of an emergency. It’s easier and safer to unlock your home and get to safety quickly. 

Cons of Single Cylinder Deadbolts

While most locks will get the job done, it’s always good to carefully consider your options. While there’s only one con listed for single cylinder deadbolts, it’s definitely a matter of personal preference. 

Less Secure Than Double Cylinders

Single cylinder deadbolts still provide a good amount of security but are less secure than a double cylinder. 

Pros of Double Cylinder Deadbolts

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When you want to increase the security of your home or keep curious little ones from toddling outdoors alone, double cylinders can do the job.

Top-Notch Security

You need a key to get in and you need a key to leave, which greatly enhances your home security. 


The good news is that choosing the deadbolt that’s best for you and your family won’t come with a costly price tag. You can expect to pay $15 to $115 per double cylinder deadbolt lock. 

Safe for Occupants Inside Your Home

Double cylinder locks can protect your loved ones from the inside as well. If you have small children or aging adults with cognitive-impairing illnesses, these locks will help ensure they don’t go outside without someone knowing.

Cons of Double Cylinder Deadbolts

You may be tempted to go with double cylinder deadbolts for your home, but there are some downsides to consider. 


In case of a fire or any emergency, it’s a safety hazard to need to locate a key to leave your house. Also, if you lose your key, you’d either need to rekey or replace your lock.

Not for Universal Use

These types of locking mechanisms aren’t for use on all doors around your home. So if you want to use the same deadbolt style around your home, this might not be the right choice for you.

Illegal in Certain Cities and States

Because of fire codes, some states and cities have made double cylinder deadbolts illegal in residential houses. For example, the city of San Jose in California prohibits the use of double cylinder deadbolts, while the state of Texas allows it. Be sure to do your research.

Single Cylinder Deadbolts vs. Double Cylinder Deadbolts

Both single cylinder and double cylinder deadbolts can enhance your home’s security while giving you peace of mind. But they’re not a one-size-fits-all; each one is better suited for specific scenarios. 

Best for Entire Home: Single Cylinder Deadbolt

If you need to install new locks across your entire home, single cylinder deadbolts would be a great choice. They’re more convenient for universal usage in areas such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets where having locks on both sides of the door isn’t necessary.

Best for Entryways Near Glass: Double Cylinder Deadbolt

Interior view of front door with glass panel
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If your door has a glass panel or window next to it, it can make your home less secure. That’s why a double cylinder lock can give you peace of mind.

Best for Doors Not Used Frequently: Double Cylinder Deadbolt

Double cylinder locks provide extra security for doors in your home you don’t frequently use. For instance, if you have two back doors but only use one, consider installing a double cylinder lock on the other one.  

Best for Rooms That Need Additional Security: Single Cylinder Deadbolt

Single cylinder deadbolts are the way to go for rooms like your office or basement that you frequently use but need more security. 

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