Did you know that there are different grades of door hardware? You may have heard a locksmith or someone on YouTube talking about Grade 1, 2, or 3 hardware. Or, if you may have seen a product at Home Depot or Amazon that says it meets a particular ANSI or BHMA standard.
What does it all mean? Generally, it means nothing to the average consumer but here’s a little diagram from BHMA that might make it easier to understand.
You can basically consider Grade 3 as Low-end Residential, Grade 2 as High-end Residential, and Grade 1 as Commercial quality locks and hardware. Or the other way I explain it to clients is Light Duty vs Medium Duty vs Heavy Duty.
However, I do not like to explain the different grades based on price. While Grade 3 Residential is usually the cheapest hardware, it’s not always the case. For example, if you go to Home Depot, you will find a variety of locks like deadbolts, knobs, and levers. You will also find a selection of electronic deadbolts and knobs/levers. A lot of them will be marketed as meeting Grade 2 ANSI or BHMA standards. A lot of the electronic stuff will be labelled as meeting Grade 1 ANSI or BHMA standards.
The price range at Home Depot (or Amazon) can range from $20 to $300 and up. However, no professional locksmith would consider any lock hardware sold at Home Depot as anything higher than Grade 3. As far as we are concerned, it’s all purely Light Duty locks made for the DIY market.
In addition, there’s a huge difference between a lock that just barely meets the standard and a lock that exceeds them. It’s like hiring a security guard who is barely awake vs one who is alert all day long. Who do you want guarding your home or business?
Does that mean that I never install Grade 3 hardware? No, I install them all the time. A professional locksmith provides the client with a solution that best meets his/her needs and budget. Sometimes the cheapest solution is the best solution.
For example, our Vancouver locksmith firm has many clients in the hospitality industry. In a bar with public restrooms, washroom door handles tend to suffer heavy abuse. When they need to be replaced, you can either install a heavy-duty Commercial lock that still might get broken again or just install the cheapest lock at a fraction of the price and replace it as required. A client can usually go through three or four Grade 3 locks, including labour costs, before matching the cost of the more expensive Grade 1 Commercial lock.
Another factor to consider is that there is a very large price range among Grade 3 hardware. One lock brand can have several sub-brands to serve different price points and target markets.
Before we explain that further, we need to mention that Home Depot/Rona/Lowe brands like Titan, Defiant, and Facto are basically garbage in the eyes of a professional Vancouver locksmith. We cannot even buy them at our distributors.
Right now, Home Depot sells a Defiant deadbolt for $19.97 before taxes. That means that the lock costs about $10 at wholesale, about $6 at the manufacturer, and less than $2 for the factory to make AND ship to Vancouver. Do you really want to protect your home with something that costs less than a cup of coffee?
On the subject of sub-brands, you may have seen a lot of opinions online that Schlage is a great product, and it generally is. However, there is a world of difference between the Schlage F Series Grade 3 and the Schlage J Series Grade 3 locks sold under the Dexter label.
Schlage F Series is pretty much the gold standard in Grade 3 Residential Hardware. When used in Residential applications, the manufacturer basically provides a limited lifetime warranty against defects, both mechanical and finish. If you use it in a Commercial or office setting, it can technically void the lifetime warranty as it has no fire rating. It’s a great quality lock but that quality is reflected in the price. An F Series Elan lever costs as much as an off-brand Grade 2 lever with a fire rating. However, the Schlage F Series is available in a plethora of different finishes (i.e. colours) and styles that Grade 2 hardware will never come in. Some locksmiths consider the F Series to be Grade 2 hardware, but I still consider it Grade 3 for the reasons below.
In comparison, the Dexter J Series is still a Grade 3 but is one-third to one-half the cost of the F Series. It is made of lighter and thinner materials and is designed around keeping costs low which is apparent as soon as you pick it up. The J series is significantly lighter than the F Series as there is simply less material, especially brass which is more expensive than the cheap pot metal that the Dexter uses.
If you ever want to compare the two yourself, please let us know. Our key store at the SFU/Harbour Centre is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. Call or text us at 604-363-2760 or email us at email@example.com.
As a professional Vancouver locksmith, I carry a wide selection of Grade 3 hardware at different price points. It’s one way of making sure I can get the job done at a price point that satisfies the customer in one visit.
Regardless of the brand, one defining aspect of Grade 3 hardware is that they are not meant to be master keyed, sometimes not even rekeyed, should be used as-is (i.e. no swapping parts or keyways), and are generally not repairable.
I get a lot of clients who ask whether or not their locks can be repaired. My answer is that it depends on the Grade of the hardware. As you move up to Grade 1 locks and hardware, things get more repairable as individual parts are more readily available. They may relatively a bit expensive but they usually cost less than a whole new lock.
On the opposite end, as you move down to Grade 3 locks and hardware, they are either not designed to be repaired, individual parts are not available, or the cost of a spare part costs more than the cost of a whole new lock.
While it’s not environmentally friendly, cheaper locks are designed to be just thrown out when they break. It’s also the reason why a lot of the Home Depot locks come with Lifetime Warranties. Only a tiny fraction of consumers will still have the original packaging and receipt to qualify for a warranty exchange. Even if someone does, is it worth the headache to contact the manufacturer directly to ask for a replacement? These locks are so cheap that it may cost you more in shipping fees than what the lock is worth.
If you want a worry-free warranty, contact a professional Vancouver locksmith like me at Archer Lock Services. We provide the best warranty in town!
Not only do all of our products come with at minimum a 1-year limited product warranty. We also offer a 1-year labour warranty on all our service calls, both during working AND non-working hours. Regardless of the day and time, if it’s under warranty it’s free! Generally, as long as we’re available, we will fix the problem at no extra charge.
Thankfully, we pride ourselves in the quality of our work and rarely get called back to a job. We call these “callbacks” in the profession. It’s a waste of time and a headache for everyone, so we do our best to never let that happen.
In summary, Grade 3 Light Duty hardware is a great choice for the cost-conscious customer or someone who needs architectural hardware in different styles and colours. If you have any questions, please call or text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to the opportunity to serve you.