Windows are an important feature in any home. They let light and fresh air in, which is important for health and mental wellbeing, and they also keep unwanted elements such as rain and wind out. But by their very nature they often represent a weak spot in home security. Glass panes can be broken providing access to burglars and windows often come with inadequate locking mechanisms, which mean they can be forced open. According to caldersecurity.co.uk 29% of burglars enter the home through a window and a third of these are through unlocked or unsecured windows. So where do you start with window security? Let’s take a deeper look at the many window lock options out there.
Types of window locks available
There are a large variety of options when it comes to window locks, and the reason for this is the myriad styles of windows and the different materials used in their construction. So instead of a one size fits all solution window locks tend to be far more specialised.
Sash window locks
When it comes to Sash windows we need to distinguish between a sash window fastener and lock. Fasteners are the typical means of closing sash windows, but if you have a home with these types of windows you will know that they are vulnerable to loosening over time due to wear and tear. For certain windows a second locking mechanism might be required, and these come in the form of screw locks, which are recessed into the sash or stops, which prevent the window from being opened completely.
Keyed window locks
Once again keyed window locks come in multitude of styles due to the variety of window types, but the most common variety are designed for casement windows, which open with a hinge. While the choice of keyed lock will be determined by the window style or material, one universal tip is to never leave your key in the lock. Instead, find a safe space near the window where it can be stored and easily found if needed.
Slide window locks
Slide window locks can be difficult to install because these windows are often made out of materials like aluminium, which are harder to work with than wood. The most common form of slide window locks work as a type of stopper, by blocking the rail from sliding when the lock is engaged. This means that for a lock to fit your window it needs to be compatible with the rail design. If your window isn’t compatible with this type of solution you will need to hire a professional or have some DIY skills to upgrade your sliding window security.
Window latches are different from the locks mentioned above because they are designed to be versatile. Instead of being specialised to the window type the design allows for installation onto most window types, and offers the added benefit of allowing you to let in fresh air to ventilate your home. Certain devices such as LockLatch or MiniLatch also come with adjustables arm to allow you to control how much fresh air gets in.
Which security window lock is best for your home?
Picking the best window lock for your home will depend on your budget, DIY skills, and most importantly, the type of window you are trying to lock. By determining your window type you can more accurately browse the options for that specific window type and find one that suits your pocket and the aesthetic of your home.
Why are security window locks important to overall home security?
As we stated at the beginning of this article window break-ins account for almost a third of burglaries in the UK. Window security is often neglected with homeowners lulled into a false sense of security by assuming the window catch provides adequate security, and many windows being left open or unlocked either through negligence or to allow fresh air into the home. By securing your windows you are making your home far safer.
Are there locks that fit any type window?
With so many specialised options deciding on which lock to get for your windows can be quite the challenge. Luckily, there are a few options which are designed to be versatile instead of specialised. LockLatch and MiniLatch are two such options, these lockable window latches fit on any type of window (from heavy wood sash windows to modern sliding aluminium windows) and can be installed in minutes with almost no DIY knowledge. This versatility makes these types of locks the best option if you are in any way uncertain about which lock to get.
How can I keep a window open but secure?
One of the big issues with window locks is that they make it more difficult to open your window, and while this is their intended purpose, it can be frustrating for a homeowner to have to unlock the window every time you want to open it. There are some window lock options such as stoppers or window latches which allow you to keep your windows open and secure allowing you to ventilate your home.
Type of window
There are as many as 18 different window types, each coming in a variety of different styles and materials. With this many options we may need a separate article to look at each one in detail. However many of these window types aren’t made to open and the three most common types of window opening styles are sliding sash windows, hinged casement windows and modern sliding windows. Determining how your window opens can go a long way to deciding which lock to get. With windows that slide you are usually looking for a window stopper or window screw, while hinged windows whether they be vertical or horizontal awning style windows will need a traditional keyed lock. Alternatively, certain window latches are versatile enough to be installed on both sliding and hinged windows.
What kind of lock can fit both sliding doors and windows?
Sliding windows and doors can be difficult to find an easy solution for because they are often made out of materials that are harder to work with. While wood windows and doors can be secured with ordinary screws these might require the use of rivets, which require a rivet gun. However a versatile lockable latch such as LockLatch or PetLatch even comes with pop rivets specifically for these types of doors or windows and can be installed in a few minutes with a hand riveter.
How to secure your windows without bars
Burglar bars are great for security, they bypass the need for a window lock by focussing security outside the home. However, they aren’t for everyone. They can be expensive to install and ruin both the interior view and the exterior aesthetics. Below we look at some alternatives to these big and ugly security measures.
Install a window lock
At this point we’ve covered window locks pretty extensively, they allow you to lock your window from the inside stopping burglars from forcing them open to gain access to your property.
Install an outdoor motion detector
Motion detectors (particularly those attached to lights) are a great deterrent as they stop thieves before they can even get to your window.
Look into laminated safety glass
Laminated safety glass is a reinforced film that is applied to the window pane. This stops the window from shattering when it is broken meaning potential burglars can’t gain access by breaking the glass.
Plant thorny shrubs outside your windows
While not completely foolproof, thorny bushes make accessing the window that little bit more difficult. Burglars are known to look for the softest target they can, and even small measures such as thorny foliage adds a layer of difficulty that could make a difference.
What to look for when selecting a window lock
By now you should have a pretty good general idea of what sort of window lock would be right for your home. But before we sign off we wanted to give you a quick summary of the information you need to know to make the most informed decision possible.
If you are going to a hardware store or shopping online, know the type of window you are trying to secure so that you know what to tell the store clerk or what to search online.
The window frame
Unless you are going for a “one size fits all” like LockLatch or MiniLatch (for smaller openings), you also need to know the material of the frame as this will determine how the lock is installed and will narrow down your options further.
Is the lock strong and sturdy?
As with all questions of security, the cheapest option is seldom the best. You should look for locks made from quality materials and with well designed components to ensure your window is really secure.
What is the lock made from?
Look for locks with metals that won’t rust or otherwise degrade. Avoid locks made from plastics or rubbers.
Reputation of manufacturer of the window lock
Do some research on the manufacturer, do they have an online presence, are there testimonials from their customers?
Are the locks tried and tested/Testimonials
Which brings us to our final point. Find out what existing users think about the product. There is no more powerful endorsement than a user testimonial as someone has taken time out of their busy schedule to tell the world how the product has affected their lives. A product that lacks user endorsement can be difficult to trust.