Home Improvement

Euro-cylinder Locks: Features, How They Work and More

Image source: Piotr Wytrazek / Shutterstock.com

Euro cylinder locks are the stalwarts of home security, celebrated for their adaptability and user-friendly design. This article will take you on a journey into the heart of these locks, unravelling their components, exploring various types and offering insights into choosing the right one for your door.

So if you:

  • Don’t know the first thing about euro profile cylinder locks;
  • Want to change your door locks;
  • Wonder whether the euro lock cylinder is right for you.

Then let’s start with the most common question…

What is a euro cylinder lock and how to identify it?

As the name suggests, these locks consist of a cylinder, where the key is inserted, and a series of pins inside. That’s basically it. The simple yet effective design allows for the easy replacement of the cylinder, making it a convenient option for people who are not locksmiths by trade.

As far as the actual design goes, every euro door lock mechanism has the following parts:

  • Cylinder – The main body of the lock where you insert the key;
  • Key pins – Small pins inside the cylinder that align to the cuts on the key;
  • Driver pins – Positioned above the key pins, they engage with the key to keep the lock secure;
  • Cam – The rotating part of the lock that engages with the door mechanism. When this part is engaged, the lock stays firmly in the lock cavity;
  • Faceplate – The visible plate on the edge of the door with the keyhole.

As already mentioned, euro lock cylinders are easy to install and replace, unlike mortice locks and multipoint door locks, so where do you use them? Well, they are commonly found in external doors, such as front and back doors. They are prevalent in uPVC and composite doors, but you can also use them in wooden and metal doors.

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Euro cylinder lock types

Euro cylinder locks come in various types, each catering to specific security needs. Understanding these types is very important so you can pick the right lock for your doors. So what are they?

  • Single cylinder locks – They come with a keyhole on one side and a knob or thumbturn on the other, and are commonly found in bedrooms. They provide a basic level of security for personal spaces without the need for external key access;
  • Double-cylinder locks – Doors at the front entrance of a house often feature double-cylinder locks. The keyholes on both sides offer enhanced security, which is crucial for the main entry point of the home. However, it’s important to consider potential challenges in emergencies, especially when quick exit is necessary;
  • Thumbturn euro cylinder locks – Thumbturn euro cylinder locks, with a thumbturn on one side for easy locking and unlocking without a key, are suitable for areas where quick and convenient access is essential. A home office or study, where you may need to enter and exit frequently, is an example of a place where this type of lock might be used.

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How does a euro cylinder lock work?

These operate on a simple yet effective mechanism. It’s still better to know how an euro-cylinder lock works than not to.

  1. Inserting the key – When you insert the key into the euro cylinder lock, the notches on the key lift the key pins and driver pins to the correct height, aligning them along the shear line;
  2. Rotating the key – As you turn the key, the aligned pins create a gap at the shear line, allowing the cam to rotate. This rotation activates the locking or unlocking mechanism connected to the door;
  3. Locking/Unlocking – The turning of the key either engages or disengages the locking mechanism, securing or releasing the door.

As simple as this design is, it can suffer from the following common problems and vulnerabilities:

  • Lock snapping – Euro cylinder locks are vulnerable to a method called lock snapping, where force is applied to break the lock. Fortunately, anti-snap locks are available to mitigate this risk;
  • Key bumping – This technique involves using a specially crafted key to manipulate the lock. Anti-bump euro cylinders have also been invented to provide extra security.
  • Drilling – Attackers will try to drill into the lock to manipulate its internal components. For that reason, manufacturers have added anti-drill features to some of the higher-end locks.
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Euro cylinder lock sizes

Understanding the euro cylinder lock dimensions and how to measure them is crucial for picking the right one. With that said, let’s discuss the standard euro cylinder sizes.

The standard sizes range from 30mm to 70mm, with each one serving a specific purpose.

  • 30mm to 40mm – These smaller sizes are typically used on interior doors or doors with a narrow profile. They lack the length needed for standard external doors, making them less secure for main entry points;
  • 40mm to 50mm – A common size suitable for doors with a thinner profile or where a shorter cylinder is needed;
  • 50mm to 60mm – Standard size for most external doors in residential properties, these offer a good balance between security and functionality;
  • 60mm to 70mm – Used for doors with a thicker profile or where additional length is necessary. These provide added security, especially for doors with a substantial thickness.
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How to measure euro cylinder lock

Now let’s learn how to properly take euro-cylinder lock measurements.

  1. Remove the existing lock – Use a screwdriver to remove the fixing screw on the lock face. Then, turn the key to retract the locking cam and gently pull out the cylinder;
  2. Measure the overall length – Place the cylinder on a flat surface and measure from one end to the other, including the cam or tail;
  3. Determine the inside and outside sizes – Measure the distance from each end of the cylinder to the centre of the screw hole. This gives you the inside and outside sizes;
  4. Note the cam or tail size – Measure the length of the cam;
  5. Identify the lock type – You already know that euro cylinder locks come in single, double, or thumb turn variations. Identify the type you need;
  6. Check for anti-snap features – Some euro cylinders have anti-snap features. Check if your lock has this and measure accordingly.

A too short euro cylinder is a security risk, as it may not fully engage with the locking mechanism. An overly long cylinder, on the other hand, is prone to snapping attacks. It’s essential to choose a size that doesn’t protrude excessively.

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What is the best euro-cylinder lock for your door?

When it comes to selecting a euro-cylinder lock for your door, it’s essential to consider various factors for optimal security. The following tips will help you make the right choice:

  • Security features – Look for locks with advanced security features such as anti-snap, anti-drill, and anti-pick technologies. These features enhance the cylinder’s resistance against common burglary techniques;
  • Brand reputation – Consider reputable brands known for manufacturing high-quality security products. Names like Yale, Era, and others have established themselves in the market and are often synonymous with reliability;
  • Material and build quality – Choose a lock made from durable materials like brass or nickel. The build quality is crucial for longevity and resistance to external elements.
  • Key control – Some euro-cylinders offer key control, allowing you to have multiple cylinders working with the same key. This can be convenient for households with multiple entry points;
  • Thumb turn or double cylinder – Decide whether you need a thumb turn, double cylinder, or a combination. Thumb turns are convenient for quick unlocking from the inside, while double cylinders require a key from both sides;
  • Certifications – Check if the lock has relevant certifications for security standards. Look for products that comply with British Standards (BS) or similar certifications. Check our post for insured approved locks for more details;
  • Warranty and customer reviews – Look for locks that come with a warranty, and read customer reviews to gauge the experiences of others with the specific lock you are considering.

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  • Euro cylinder locks consist of a cylinder, key pins, driver pins, cam, and faceplate, providing a simple yet effective design for easy replacement;
  • They are commonly used in external doors like front and back doors, especially in uPVC, composite, wooden, and metal doors;
  • Types include single-cylinder locks for bedrooms, double-cylinder locks for enhanced security at the main entrance, and thumb-turn locks for quick and convenient access;
  • Euro cylinder lock sizes range from 30mm to 70mm, with each size serving a specific purpose based on the door type and thickness;
  • Common vulnerabilities include lock snapping and key bumping, which can be addressed with anti-snap and anti-bump features.
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