Mortise Lock vs. Cylindrical Lock: Exploring the Key Differences

Fatima Buzdar

July 20, 2023

Close-up view of the locking mechanism on a white door. The image displays the intricate metallic components of the lock set in the center of the door, expertly installed by a skilled locksmith, with door handles visible on both sides. The background shows blurred window panes.

There are loads of different types of door locks out there in the market, and two of the popular ones are mortise locks and cylindrical locks.

Now, while both of these locks do the job of keeping your door secure, there are some real differences between them. In this article, we’ll dig into the details of mortise lock vs. cylindrical lock, giving you the lowdown to help you make the right choice when picking a lock that suits your needs.

What Are Mortise Locks and Cylindrical Locks?

To start off with understanding the difference between mortise lock and cylinder lock, and which one you should pick, let’s introduce both locks.

Mortise Lock

Mortise locks have been around for centuries and are considered a traditional choice for many homeowners and businesses. A mortise lock is installed by cutting a pocket, known as a mortise pocket, into the edge of the door. The lock body is then fit snugly within the pocket. In addition, the mortise lockset consists of a lock chassis, a latch bolt, and a strike plate, all of which are concealed within the door.

Mortise locks offer a high level of security due to their intricate design and robust construction. The inclusion of a deadbolt and latch bolt ensures that the door is securely fastened. With their durability and strength, they can withstand heavy usage and offer increased resistance against forced entry.

Cylindrical Lock

In contrast, cylindrical locks, also called cylinder locks, are relatively simpler in design compared to their mortise counterparts. These locks are installed through the door, with the lock body and latch mechanism housed inside a cylindrical casing that is affixed to the door.

One of the key advantages of a cylindrical lock is its ease of installation. The cylindrical locksets are easy to fit and require minimal door preparation, making them a popular choice for homeowners. However, while they provide a basic level of security, they may not be suitable for high-security applications.

Body of a cylinder lock lying on floor

Key Differences Between Mortise Lockset vs. Cylindrical Lockset

Now that we’ve explored the basics of the locks, let’s highlight the key differences between mortise locks and cylinder locks:

  • Level of Security: Mortise locks offer a higher level of security compared to cylindrical locks. The sturdy construction and fit into the door pocket make them more resistant to break-ins. Due to their build, they can resist various lock tampering attempts and are more durable than cylindrical locks in resisting them. Even the best cylindrical locks may not match the longevity and robustness of a well-built mortise lock.
  • Installation: Mortise locks require special door preparation due to needing to have a mortise cut into the door, which is a more complex process compared to the straightforward installation of cylindrical locks. It’s best to leave this work to the professionals, as cutting an accurate mortise is tougher than it looks! On the other hand, cylinder locks are easy to install without the need for intricate preparation for the door prior to installation, requiring just two holes to be drilled for the lock chassis and latch bolt.
  • Cost: Mortise locks are generally more expensive than cylindrical locks. The intricate design and high-security features contribute to the higher price tag of mortise locks. On top of that, their installation process is also heftier in cost. Cylindrical locks, being simpler in construction, tend to be more affordable, likewise with their installation.

Choosing the Right Lock for Your Needs

So, when we consider mortise lock vs cylindrical lock, which lock wins? When deciding between a mortise lock and a cylindrical lock for your home or business, it’s essential to consider your specific requirements.

If you prioritize security and durability, then a mortise lockset is more secure than cylindrical locks and hence an excellent choice. This is why mortise locks are commonly used on the front doors where solid security is paramount.

On the other hand, if ease of installation and affordability are more important factors for you, a cylindrical lock can also be a suitable option for areas not requiring an extensive amount of security, such as the interior doors of a residential property.

Mortise lock, pencil and ruler lying on a table while a drill is hovering


Both mortise locks and cylindrical locks are common types of locks, each with its own advantage. The key differences between mortise locks and cylinder locks lie in security, durability, installation, and cost. Mortise locks are more complex and durable than cylinder locks, making them an excellent fit for robust protection for areas like the front doors. However, cylinder locks are easier to install and cheaper, making them a good fit for interior doors.

If you have any questions about choosing mortise or cylinder locks or need expert advice on choosing the best lock type for your home or business in Ajax, consulting a reputable locksmith can provide you with valuable insights and guidance.

Our Ajax locksmiths are ready to serve your needs! Not only can we help you choose the best lock, but we can also install the lock and assist with any other locking matters. With our extensive experience of serving Ajax residents and homeowners with excellent locking solutions, you can put your trust in us!

Safeguard your property with our expert locksmith solutions. Get in touch with our approachable, knowledgeable team.