Door Knob Locks Vertical or Horizontal – Which is the Better One? 

Door locks are at the forefront of your home safety. We open and lock doors every day, yet it’s hard to tell which way it locks. We understand your confusion.

So, you’re asking if the doorknob locks vertical or horizontal?

The most common direction used for doors to lock is horizontal. And vertical for unlocking. Not all knobs have the same system. There are many varieties of doorknobs and locksets in the market. Knowing the attributes of each is vital for choosing the right pair for your home.

But, that’s not all. We skipped a few details. To know more, keep reading.

Is Your Door Knob Locked or Unlocked?

Traditionally, the most accepted standard for doorknob locks is – locked when horizontal. And unlocked when vertical. This is for most deadbolt locks. But that’s not the case for all knobs.

If we explain the mechanism of door locks – when the key faces towards the strike plate, it locks. When it turns away, it is unlocked. This applies both to clockwise and anticlockwise knobs.

It won’t be bad to try out your handle after shifting the key each in both directions.

So, the direction of locking and unlocking depends. On the knob, manufacturer, and location.

Vertical Lock vs Horizontal Lock

It’s best to understand the basics before moving to details.

Vertical door locks are very common in commercial and residential doors. It is very popular in North America as a secondary locking device.

Vertical locks are used to secure doors that open both inward and outward.

Horizontal locks are ideal for doorknobs fitted with mortice locks. They have a long lock case so that fingers do not get trapped when rotating the knob.

They can replace older style lock cases or unusual door configurations.

If you want to know more about door knobs and locks in detail, keep on reading.

Types of Door Knobs 

Currently, there are many designs of doorknobs in the market. Along with diverse prices. Which can range from as low as 30 dollars to 800 dollars, or more…

It can get confusing to get the right handle for your door. 

Also, sliding screen doors often get ignored while choosing good locksets. Hence, we must discuss common doorknob categories and their locks.

Deadbolt Door Knob

They provide the highest security on a door. Since it has no springs inside to operate its bolt, hence it’s called ‘dead’.

It is operated manually with either a key or a thumb. Common types of deadbolts are-

Single Cylinder Deadbolt

It requires it to be unlocked from the outside. It only needs the bolt lever to be flipped from the inside, for unlocking the door. It may have a turn button inside as well.

Single-cylinder deadbolts are incorporated on doors made of wood or solid metal.

Double Cylinder Deadbolt

This type of deadbolt requires a key to unlock from both sides of the door. Hence, it is not suitable for emergencies.

It is uncommon and is dangerous for doors that are used for evacuation.

It is best suited for doors with glass which prevents intruders from breaking the glass.  

One-Sided Deadbolt

Locking and unlocking, both are done from the inside. It can’t be opened from the outside once the lock is bolted.

Deadbolts are the best choice for storm doors. Doesn’t matter whether it’s Pella or Anderson.

All deadbolts open when they are facing away from the bolt. Or, towards the hinges.

Passage Door Knobs

It is one of the simplest pieces available. They provide unhindered access, from both sides of the door.

It has two non-locking knobs on both sides.

Since entry is easy through these knobs, it’s best suited for spaces that are not private. It is ideal for doorways of rooms, hallways, and closets.

Passage door knobs do not lock.

Privacy Door Knobs

These door knobs are used for privacy, not security.

The knob or the lever on the inside has a locking button, but the outside doesn’t. There’s a hole in the knob outside. 

The lock can be opened from outside by putting in a long narrow object. For emergencies. This type of knob is used in doorways of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Privacy doors lock when horizontal.

Dummy Door Knob

They are also known as ‘inactive’ door handles. 

These are used in spaces where no locking operation is needed. That is, they are mounted like a standard door handle. But don’t have any mechanism other than decoration.

There are two types of dummy door knobs; single dummy doorknob, and double dummy doorknob.

Interior Mortise

These types of door locks are common in older homes. The handles include a large rectangular lock inside the door, not on the knob. 

Interior mortise locks do the job better than modern privacy hardware. The con is that it is hard to install.

Their kit contains skeleton keys and a deadbolt.

They are available for both left and right-handed designs. Its mechanism contains a pin tumbler in a cylinder. Except when the knob outside is locked, the latch works from either side.

By turning the inside knob, the deadbolt works. The latch bolt and deadbolt can be used by a key from the outside.

These locks are used in heavy entrance doors and apartment buildings. They are also widely used on storm doors, despite their hard installation.

They are available for both horizontal and vertical locks.


Locks that require a key for locking and unlocking are called keyed doorknobs. They provide maximum privacy. 

However, if the keys are lost, you might find yourself in a tough situation.

Types of Door Locks

Choosing the right kind of lock can be just as confusing as handles. To help you pair the right lock with your knob, here are common door lock categories to choose from.


One of the most basic door lock styles. Just like its mechanism.

There is a button at the center. Pushing the button in the center activates the lock. And to unlock, twisting the knob from inside automatically opens the door.

To open push locks from the outside, insert a thin object into the hole. Push until a click happens. Soon you will hear a release.


They are more traditional in appearance than push locks. 

They have a small central knob, that is turnable at 90 degrees. Either counterclockwise or clockwise. The direction can vary per handle.

To unlock thumb turn locks, the central knob has to be turned 90°, in opposite directions.


This type of lock is only available for doorknobs and not levers.

They are around the trim of the doorknob. Like push locks, the lock can be opened by turning the doorknob.

These are usually used to give doorknobs a sleek finish.


Are doorknobs sold in pairs?

Interior door knobs are sold in pairs.

What is the standard hole size for a doorknob?

2 ⅛ “ in diameter.

How much space to keep between the doorknob and deadbolt?

5 ½ “ 


Finally, we have reached the end of our article. We hope we were able to answer all your queries.

We also hope you can make the right choice of door handles for your home.

If you have any more questions, leave them in the comments!

See you next time.