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Security is an important feature of any window. When you leave the house or go to bed, you want to know that your windows will stay firmly locked. Deborah Adams Kaplan, writing for Bankrate, says: “Contrary to what you see on TV, Hsiung says most homes are burglarized during the day when residents are out.” If you’re looking to fit new windows, you may be wondering which type of lock to use. In this article we’ll look at a few different styles to help you choose.

Key operated

As the name would suggest, key operated locks require a key to open them. Keep in mind that you will need to keep the key somewhere handy at all times. Some people prefer to keep things simple by using the same key for all the windows in the house. If you prefer, you can of course opt for individual locks with different keys for each window. It’s really down to your particular preference. Key operated locks are often used with double-hung sash windows. The lock usually sits in the centre of the window, joining the two panes and locking them in place.

Sliding bolt

The traditional sliding bolt has been used to lock windows and doors for centuries. A bolt lock works by sliding a metal bolt through multiple loops. The loops are fixed to the window and window-frame. When the bolt passes through, it locks them together, securing the window. The mechanism for window bolts is the same as for doors but uses smaller hardware. Bolt locks are less common on windows and are often used in conjunction with a key lock or latch.


A latch or ‘swivel lock’ is one of the most commonly used window locks. They are often positioned in the centre of double-hung sash windows. Swivel locks often feature a horizontal, semi-circular disk. The disk swivels around in a circle, passing underneath a metal hook. When the lock is ‘closed’, the hook prevents the lower pane from sliding up. The same type of lock can be used vertically, to prevent a hinged window from opening. In some cases, latches are used in conjunction with a second type of lock, for added security.

Window stay

A window stay is used both for keeping the window shut and holding it open. It works by fitting a metal rod with holes drilled into it, over a set of pegs. When the window is open, the rod holds it in place. When the window is closed, the rod lies parallel with the window-frame and locks it shut. A window stay’s position at the bottom of the window means it isn’t the most robust security feature. Most people prefer to use a window stay in conjunction with a central latch or key lock.

How should you decide?

Your decision should take into account the type of window you are installing and also the material it is made from. A good tip would be to visit your local hardware store and see what types of lock they have available. You can then ask which products they’d recommend for your specific windows. If you’re using a window fitter, you could also ask their advice, prior to fitting the new windows.

[Photo by workandpix]