99% of all doors in the UK are one of the following:
– A uPVC door
– A wooden door
– A composite door
Wooden doors are more your old style of door, usually featuring two different locks on it: a mortice lock, and a nightlatch (commonly referred to as a “Yale lock”. But these aren’t the type of doors we are going to talk about today.
As a Locksmith in Newcastle who cares about the end user (e.g. you), I am going to talk about doors featuring multi-point locks, which are almost always to be found on uPVC and Composite doors. On these systems, you are meant to lift your handles up, which engages all locking points, and then, turn your key in the cylinder to lock your door, like in the picture below:
However, there is now a newer system that seems to attract a lot of attention: the auto-locking locks, which are almost never seen anywhere else other than on a composite door. They can be spotted by looking at the door, because such doors do not feature any traditional handles. Instead, most of the time, they will feature a long bar, used to pull and push the door when opening/closing it, like the one below:
Now that we know what we’re talking about, here is why these doors are inferior to traditional multi-point lock systems from every angle:
1- Your key is most likely to snap in the lock
Unfortunately, whoever designed these doors have decided every single moving part of it, e.g. hooks, latches, and everything else you can’t see, are going to be moving with nothing else but the twist of your key in the lock, at least from the outside, as the inside should have thumb turn to facilitate that.
What this means is the amount of torque you NEED to put on your key to operate your locking system, is extremely high. The amount of wear and tear you will put on your key will drastically increase the chances of it snapping, and when that happens and you don’t have a back door? You will be locked in, or locked out of your Newcastle home.
2- Are you getting a warranty?
If you did decide to go for the auto locking mechanism on your new composite door, be weary of this: There are a lot of companies out there that will offer attractive prices, saving you hundreds of pounds…… by cutting their costs, such as fitting worse parts, or second-hand parts, but also by simply not providing you with a warranty. So while you may feel good about having a new door, because surely, if it’s new, it should last for years, if not decades, you may have a bad surprise and have to get repairs done sooner than you thought, and not having a warranty means you’ll have to pay full price for it. Always something to think about.
3- You will lock yourself out.
Muscle memory is a thing. You have taught yourself you could open your front door without a key, as long as you did not lock it, and you have been doing this for years. An auto-locking mechanism will “lock” itself as soon as you pull the door shut.
Didn’t take your keys as you went outside to put the bins out? You are now locked out.
Did the wind slam the door shut as you were looking for something in the trunk of your car? Locked out. Kids posted your keys through the letterbox instead of giving it back to you? Locked out again.
Now, as a Locksmith in Newcastle, I am not going to be the one who complains of getting calls because of people locking themselves out, but I also care about preventing such issues where they can be prevented. See an example below of a job where someone got locked out because a member of their family left the keys at the back of their auto-locking door, preventing my customer from using her keys to go home on New Year’s Eve after a 13 hrs shift:
4- Composite doors can warp
Every door will eventually drop due to usage, and while this isn’t too much trouble to fix most of the time, as long as your hinges allow for such adjustments, composite doors, in particular, are prone to warping. Warping basically means your door slowly takes the shape of a crescent rather than a straight line, usually because of weather conditions and color choice. And as your door warps, its latches/hooks/locking points slowly get misaligned, and there is no amount of hinge adjustments that will solve the problem long term. In fact, the only solution I know of (happy to get proven wrong by my fellow colleagues) is to remove and refit the striking plates, which can be messy, especially if your locksmith doesn’t know how to make repairs on wood.
With all of the above said, there is definitely more to it than these 4 reasons, but these are the 4 biggest reasons why a new-style composite door may not be the best choice for you. They look great, but to me, that’s pretty much all they have going on for themselves.
Now, it goes without saying new style composite doors also have pros compared to uPVC, such as their sturdiness and heat retention, but then, just get a composite door with a classic multipoint lock.
As far as my opinion goes, and as far as the end-user experience goes, there is nearly no reason to choose a new style composite door over a traditional multi-point lock system.
Published: 8th January, 2024 | Updated: 9th February, 2024