What is a Privacy Lock?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A privacy lock is a lock that is designed to allow someone to quickly lock a room from the inside for privacy. Such locks are most commonly seen on bedrooms and bathrooms, where people might not necessarily be concerned about security, but would have reasons to lock the door to keep people out. Many hardware stores carry privacy locks that can be used to replace broken or damaged locks or to refit doors that do not lock to provide more privacy. No special skills are needed to install the lock, although sometimes it is necessary to cut a new opening into the door to install the fitting and this may require some special tools.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The privacy lock has a button or tab that people can push in order to lock the door once they are inside the room with the door closed. When the door handle is turned from the inside, the door unlocks automatically. If there is an emergency and someone needs to get into the locked room, a small opening on the door is large enough to fit a thin tool, which can be used to toggle the lock to open the door.

The goal of this type of lock is not security. Aside from the hole in the door that allows someone to easily unlock it from the outside, the lock can often be broken with a hammer or a sharp blow. Especially if a door is thin or the frame is of low quality, it can be very easy to break into a room with a privacy lock. However, the lock does ensure that people do not accidentally open the door while someone is inside.

When installing a privacy lock, care should be taken to ensure that the lock is installed facing the right way. It is also important to buy a door handle appropriate to the door. If possible, people will find it easier to install a lock when they can use the holes already drilled into a door for a previous fitting. People who bring along the old lock to a hardware store can match it up with new hardware to see whether or not it will fit. Staff members can also order custom hardware for a privacy lock if a specific design or finish is needed.

This interior lock can be fitted on to any room in a building. For additional security in settings where people want safety in addition to privacy, a more robust lock can be fitted. This lock will require a key, code, card, or other measure in order to unlock. Such locks can be used on panic rooms, private offices, and other rooms that people want to be able to securely lock.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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