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Different Types of Window Locks: A Comprehensive Guide

Windows are a vital part of any home, offering ventilation and natural light. However, they can also be a security vulnerability if not properly secured. Window locks play a crucial role in safeguarding your home, deterring potential intruders, and providing peace of mind.

This comprehensive breakdown explores the various types of window locks available, helping you choose the most suitable option for your needs. We’ll delve into the importance of window security and highlight the different locking mechanisms designed to enhance your home’s protection.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

Types of window locks by window style: There are different locks designed for various window styles, including double-hung, sliding, casement, and awning windows.


Choosing the right lock: Consider factors like window type, security needs, privacy requirements, and budget when selecting a lock.

Popular window lock brands: Some established brands known for quality window locks include Andersen, Pella, Jeld-Wen, Kwikset, and Schlage.

DIY window lock installation: Installing window locks yourself can be done with basic tools, but ensure you choose the right lock for your window and follow the instructions carefully.

Importance of window lock maintenance: Regularly inspect, tighten screws, and lubricate (if recommended) your window locks to ensure smooth operation and continued security.

Benefits of window locks: Window locks enhance security, improve child safety, and offer peace of mind by safeguarding your home.

Types of Window Locks by Window Style

Every window style has its own unique security needs. This guide explores the different types of locks and security features available for various window designs, helping you create a safe and secure home environment.

Double-Hung Windows

These windows have two movable sashes that slide vertically. They typically use a combination of the following locks:

  • Sash Locks: These are the most common locks for double-hung windows. They are usually located on the meeting rail (where the two sashes meet) and have a latch mechanism that secures one sash to the other. They can be simple latches or have a locking mechanism requiring a key.


  • Window Restrictors: These are not locks in the traditional sense, but rather devices that limit how far a window can open. This can be useful for child safety or for preventing drafts. Restrictors can be mounted on the sash or the frame and come in various designs.


  • Sash Window Stops: These are small stops or catches that prevent the sash from sliding up too far. They are not security measures but rather limit movement to avoid damaging the window or screens.

Sliding Windows

  • Sliding Window Locks: These are locks specifically designed for securing sliding windows. They typically attach to the window sash (the movable pane of glass) and the window frame, preventing the window from being forced open. There are many types of sliding window locks, some requiring keys and others with simpler mechanisms.


  • Sash Restrictors: These are devices that limit how far a sliding window can open. This can be helpful for safety reasons, to prevent children or pets from falling out, or to control airflow. Sash restrictors can be permanent fixtures installed on the window track, or removable ones you can attach and detach as needed. 


  • Window Stoppers: Similar to sash restrictors, window stoppers prevent a window from opening past a certain point. However, stoppers are often much simpler mechanisms, like a wedge you insert between the window sash and the frame. They may not be very secure but are a quick and easy way to limit window opening.

Casement Windows

Let’s delve deeper into the world of casement window locks! Here’s a breakdown of the different types you’ll encounter:

Casement Window Locks (Latches):

These are the workhorses of casement window security. Unlike double-hung windows that slide vertically, casement windows crank open on hinges. Casement window locks (latches) are typically embedded within the frame and engage with the opening sash to secure the window shut. They come in various subtypes:

  • Folding Lock: This is a common type where a metal arm folds down and hooks onto the sash, preventing the window from opening further.
  • Compression Latch: This latch uses a rotating cam that pushes a compression bar against the sash, creating a tight seal and keeping the window secure.
  • Hook and Eye Latch: A simple yet effective design where a hook on the sash engages with an eye on the frame, holding the window closed.

Casement Window Restrictors:

These aren’t locks per se, but they play a crucial role in controlling how far a casement window can open. Restrictors are ideal for safety, especially with high windows, or for preventing pets from pushing the window open too wide. They come in different forms:

  • Chain Restrictor: A small chain attached to the sash and the frame limits the opening distance.
  • Cable Restrictor: Similar to a chain restrictor, but uses a metal cable for a cleaner look.
  • Arm Restrictor: A hinged arm on the frame restricts the opening by stopping the sash from moving beyond a certain point.

Casement Window Locking Handles:

These multifunctional handles combine the crank mechanism for opening the window with a built-in locking feature. They offer convenience and security in one unit. Locking handles can have various locking mechanisms, including keyholes or thumbturn mechanisms for easy operation.

Choosing the right type of lock (latch) and restrictor for your casement window depends on your security needs, window size, and desired level of control over how far the window opens. For instance, if you have a ground-floor window, a keyed latch might be ideal, while a chain restrictor can provide extra peace of mind for high windows.

Awning Windows

Awning windows hinge at the top and open outward from the bottom. Due to this hinging style, awning windows typically have two locks, one on each side of the window frame. These locks are very similar to casement window locks:

  • Handle Lock: This is the most common type of lock for awning windows. It functions as both a handle and a lock. When the handle is in a horizontal position, the window is locked. Flipping the handle vertically unlocks the window and allows you to open it.
  • Keyed Lock: Some awning windows may have keyed locks in addition to the handle lock. This adds an extra layer of security and requires a key to operate.

Similarities to Casement Window Locks

Casement windows also hinge on the side (usually the left or right) and open outward. They typically use crank mechanisms to open and close. Their locking mechanisms are very similar to awning window locks, often using handle locks or keyed locks on the operating arm of the window.

Awning Window Restrictors

While awning window locks secure the window completely shut, restrictors limit how far a window can open. Here are two common types of restrictors for awning windows:

  • Opening Restrictor: This is a small latch or lock that attaches to the window frame and the sash (the opening portion of the window). It allows the window to open a certain distance but prevents it from opening fully.
  • Sash Stopper: This is a small block that mounts to the window track. It stops the sash from opening past a certain point.

Choosing the Right Lock or Restrictor

The best option for your awning window depends on your needs:

  • Security: If security is your top priority, then two-point locks (one on each side) or keyed locks are a good choice.
  • Ventilation: If you want to allow ventilation while keeping the window secure, an opening restrictor is a good option. This is especially useful for windows in high places or above ground level where a fully open window could be a safety hazard.

Picture Windows:

Picture windows, those large, beautiful panes offering stunning views, also present a bit of a security challenge. They typically don’t have built-in locks for a simple reason:

  • Design Focus: Picture windows prioritize expansive views and unobstructed light. Locks would require bulky mechanisms that disrupt the sleek, seamless aesthetic.

However, the lack of locks doesn’t mean you have to leave your picture window vulnerable. Here are some security considerations to enhance your peace of mind:

Alarm Systems:

  • Door and Window Sensors: Install sensors on the window frame that trigger an alarm if someone attempts to break the glass or pry the window open.
  • Glass Break Sensors: These sensors detect the specific sound of breaking glass, adding another layer of security.

Window Security Films:

  • Security Film: Applies a clear film to the window that makes it significantly harder to break through. This deters smash-and-grab attempts and gives you more time for the alarm to activate.
  • Safety and Security Film: Provides the same security benefits as regular security film with the added advantage of holding shattered glass in place, minimizing injuries and preventing flying debris.

Additional Considerations:

  • Window Bars: While not the most aesthetically pleasing option, window bars add a physical barrier to entry.
  • Shrubs and Landscaping: Strategic planting around the window can deter easy access and provide a natural deterrent.
  • Visibility: Ensure good lighting outside your home, especially around picture windows. This discourages break-ins as potential intruders are less likely to act under a spotlight.

By considering these options, you can enhance the security of your picture windows without sacrificing their visual appeal. Remember, a layered approach combining alarm systems, security films, and additional deterrents offers the best defense.

Additional Window Lock Features

Here’s a breakdown of the features:

Window Lock Grades

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has a grading system for window locks that indicates their security level. Here’s a basic overview:

  • Grade 1: Highest security, designed to withstand forced entry attempts.
  • Grade 2: Provides good security for most residential applications.
  • Grade 3: Offers basic security for low-risk areas.

When choosing a lock, consider the security needs of your windows and your overall home security plan.

Keyed vs. Non-Keyed Locks

  • Keyed Locks:
    • Pros: More secure, offer central control with one key, good for privacy (especially in shared spaces).
    • Cons: Requires keeping track of keys, can be inconvenient for frequent opening/closing.
  • Non-Keyed Locks:
    • Pros: Convenient, easy for quick access (e.g., fire escape), some offer combination codes for security.
    • Cons: Generally less secure than keyed locks, anyone can operate them if they know the mechanism.

Window Safety Locks & Catches

These locks are designed to prevent children from opening windows. They come in various forms:

  • Sash Locks: Installed on the window frame, require a key or tool to operate.
  • In-Track Locks: Slide into the window track, preventing the window from opening beyond a certain point.
  • Safety Catches: Attach to window sashes, making it difficult for children to open them.

Other Features: 

  • Truth Entrygard: A type of double-hung window lock with a key cylinder on the bottom sash for added security.
  • Cremone Bolt: A multi-point locking system commonly used in patio doors or large windows. It offers a single key operation for multiple locking points along the window frame.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other specialty window locks available to address specific security needs.

Additional Window Lock Features

Here’s a breakdown of the features:

Window Type:

  • Double-hung sash windows: These typically have built-in locks on the sashes that engage when the handle is turned. You can upgrade these with keyed locks or add auxiliary locks on the meeting rails.
  • Casement windows: These open outward with cranks. Auxiliary locks with latches or bolts are ideal for these.
  • Awning windows: They hinge at the top and open outward. Locks with cranks or push-button mechanisms work well here.
  • Slider windows: These slide horizontally on a track. Auxiliary locks that engage the sash with the frame are suitable.

Security Needs:

  • High-security areas: Ground floor windows, windows near fire escapes, or in secluded areas need strong, keyed locks with high American National Standards Institute (ANSI) grades (Grade 1 being the highest).
  • Child safety: For windows accessible to children, consider window restrictors that limit the opening or child safety latches that require adult operation.
  • Privacy and ventilation: If security isn’t a major concern, you might opt for simpler sash locks or even decorative locks that offer a degree of privacy while allowing ventilation.


  • High-security locks: Keyed locks and those with strong ANSI grades will cost more.
  • Auxiliary locks: These are generally more affordable than replacing built-in locks.
  • Child safety locks: These are a budget-friendly option for added safety.

Popular Window Lock Brands:

While window lock functionality is key, there are established brands known for quality and durability. Here are a few examples:

Remember, consulting a professional locksmith can provide valuable guidance on choosing the right window locks for your specific needs and windows.

Installation and Maintenance

DIY Window Lock Installation (Basic Steps & Safety Tips)

This section likely explains how to install a window lock on your windows. Here’s a general idea of the steps you might find:

  1. Choosing a lock: There are different types of window locks for various window styles. Make sure you get the right kind for your window.
  2. Preparation: Gather your tools (usually a screwdriver and possibly a drill), read the instructions that come with your specific lock, and choose the spot on the window frame where you want the lock.
  3. Marking and drilling: Following the instructions, you’ll likely mark the screw holes with a pencil and possibly pre-drill pilot holes for the screws.
  4. Mounting the lock: Using your screwdriver, you’ll secure the lock to the window frame.
  5. Testing: Once the lock is mounted, open and close the window to make sure it functions properly.

Safety Tips:

  • Make sure you understand the instructions before you begin.
  • Be careful when drilling to avoid damaging the window frame or hitting any wires.
  • Use the right size drill bit for the screws that come with your lock.

Importance of Window Lock Maintenance

Window locks, like any other piece of hardware, can benefit from occasional maintenance:

  • Visual inspection: Regularly check the lock for any signs of damage or wear and tear.
  • Tightening screws: Over time, screws can loosen. Use a screwdriver to tighten any loose screws on the lock.
  • Lubrication: Some locks may benefit from a light application of lubricant on the moving parts. Check the instructions for your specific lock to see if lubrication is recommended.

By properly maintaining your window locks, you can ensure they function smoothly and continue to provide security for your home.

Additional Tips:

If you’re not comfortable installing a window lock yourself, consider hiring a professional handyman. For more specific guidance, consult the manual that comes with your particular lock.


Window locks are a crucial line of defense for your home security. They not only deter potential intruders but also provide peace of mind, knowing your family and belongings are protected.

This guide explored the various window lock types for different window styles, empowering you to choose the ideal solution for your needs. Remember, the right locks can:

  • Enhance security: Window locks make it significantly harder for burglars to gain entry, acting as a deterrent and giving you valuable time to react in case of an attempted break-in.
  • Improve child safety: Window locks with restrictors prevent children from opening windows too wide, reducing the risk of falls and accidents.
  • Offer peace of mind: Knowing your windows are secured allows you to relax and enjoy the fresh air without worrying about unwanted guests.

Don’t wait to secure your home’s vulnerabilities. Take action today by assessing your window security and implementing the appropriate window lock solutions. By investing in this essential layer of protection, you’ll create a safer and more secure environment for yourself and your loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are sash locks, restrictors, and stops for double-hung windows; sliding window locks and restrictors/stoppers for sliding windows; casement window locks (latches), restrictors, and locking handles; and awning window locks and restrictors.

Window locks improve child safety by preventing windows from opening too wide.

Consider window type, security needs, privacy requirements, and budget.

Andersen, Pella, Jeld-Wen, Kwikset, and Schlage are known for quality window locks.

Yes, DIY window lock installation is possible with basic tools, but choosing the right lock and following instructions carefully is crucial.

Regularly inspect them, tighten screws, and lubricate them if recommended.

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