Understanding the Difference Between a Lock & Door Lock Cylinder


A door lock cylinder is a critical component of a door lock mechanism. It is the part of the lock where the key is inserted. A lock, on the other hand is a broader term that refers to the entire mechanism designed to secure a door, gate or other entry points.

When it comes to securing your home, understanding the difference between locks and lock cylinders is fundamental so that you’re able to choose the right one for your home. 

Often, these terms are mistakenly used interchangeably, but they represent distinct elements within a security system. 

In this article, we’ll unravel the differences between locks and lock cylinders to provide clarity on these essential components of security. 

Lock vs Door Lock Cylinder: What’s the difference? 

Before jumping straight into the different types of each, it’s important to understand what each one actually is. 

Locks serve as the physical barriers securing entrances, safes or cabinets, operated through keys, combinations or electronic codes. Conversely, lock cylinders, nestled within locks, accommodate the key and the locking mechanism. 

Here are some popular examples for each one. 

Types of locks 

The most common types of locks available on the market are: 


These are commonly installed on exterior doors, boasting a bolt that extends into the doorframe for added resistance against forced entry. They are operated by either thumb-turn (operable from inside with a thumb-turn and outside with a key) or key/key (requiring a key for both sides) cylinders, offering heightened security. 

GFD Homes Door lock cylinder: Front entrance of a home with a Comp Door installed.
Lock vs door lock cylinder Comp Door featuring an auto slam shut lock

Auto Slam Shut locks automatically engage when the door is closed and are becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners. 


Versatile and portable, padlocks secure various objects such as lockers, gates and storage units, available in keyed, combination or electronic options. 

Knob Locks 

Often found on interior doors, these locks use a key on one side and a twist knob on the other, though they are not the most robust security option. 

Lever-Handle Locks

Similar to knob locks, these are easier for people with disabilities to operate, commonly seen in commercial or public areas. 

Types of lock cylinders 

Lock cylinders exhibit various forms based on shape, size and complexity, influencing their functionality: 

Pin Tumbler Cylinders 

Utilise pins held in place by springs, engaging with key ridges to activate the lock, providing anti-drill pins for enhanced security. 

Disc Tumbler Cylinders 

Operate through rotating discs that align when the correct key is inserted, allowing the lock to open. 

GFD Homes Door lock cylinder: Up close view of a door lock cylinder.
Door lock cylinder

All doors in our Solidor collection come with an Ultion Cylinder, commonly referred to as the ‘most secure lock on the market’. 

Wafer Tumbler Cylinders 

Composed of stacked flat wafers lifted to the correct height by the corresponding key, facilitating the lock’s engagement. 

Differentiating Locks and a door lock Cylinder 

While both locks and lock cylinders are integral to security, their roles are distinct; lock cylinders secure the lock, preventing unauthorised access, while locks act as the interface between users and the cylinder. 

Think of locks as covers concealing the cylinder, available in diverse materials, shapes and sizes to match the cylinders they accompany. 

Advantages of a Lock and Door Lock Cylinder 

The main advantages offered by locks and lock cylinders include the following: 


Enhanced security against theft and burglary, with higher complexity in lock cylinders offering greater protection. 


Swift and easy access to secured areas, providing peace of mind. 


Wide-ranging types and sizes suitable for various applications, ensuring there’s a fitting lock and cylinder combination for diverse needs. 

GFD Homes Door lock cylinder: Internal view of Comp Door installed in a home.
Door lock cylinder

Although you may be able to fit your new door yourself, choosing our installation option will ensure the highest level of safety & security. 

Security Reassurance with GFD Homes 

At GFD Homes, your security is our number one priority. That’s why every door we offer is equipped with a 3-star door lock cylinder as standard for peace of mind – this is the highest cylinder rating currently available on the market.

So, when it comes to helping you to achieve your dream entrance, rest assured that our commitment lies in providing you doors that safeguard what matters to you most- your home and loved ones. 

GFD Homes Door lock cylinder: Solidor door options and prices.
Get an instant quote online.

For more information on door security or if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us

Alternatively, if you’d much prefer to test out the quality and security of our doors for yourself, please call us on 01642 309576 to book a visit to our Teesside showroom

FAQs about Understanding the Difference Between Locks & Lock Cylinders

What’s the main difference between a lock and door lock cylinder? 

A lock is the entire mechanism used to secure an object, while a lock cylinder is a component within the lock that serves as the mechanism responsible for locking and unlocking.

Are all lock cylinders interchangeable or are some fixed and permanent?

Lock cylinders come in both interchangeable and fixed varieties. Some are designed to be easily replaced to alter the key system, while others are permanent and cannot be exchanged.

How do I know which type of lock cylinder is suitable for my specific security needs? 

Assessing security needs involves considering factors like the level of security required, the type of door or entry point and potential vulnerabilities. Consulting with security professionals can provide tailored recommendations.

Here at GFD Homes, every entrance door we offer is equipped with a 3-star door lock cylinder, boasting the highest possible rating. This alleviates the concern of selecting the ideal lock for your door for your door, as our doors are already fortified with top-tier security. 

If you would like some more information on our security measures or a specific product, don’t be afraid to call our team on 01642 309576- they’ll be happy to help!

Can I upgrade my existing door’s lock cylinder to enhance security and how difficult is the replacement process?

Yes, it’s possible to upgrade a lock cylinder for improved security. The complexity of the replacement process varies depending on the lock type, but many replacements can be done without extensive expertise. 

Are there specific maintenance tips to ensure the longevity and efficiency of a door lock cylinder? 

Regularly lubricating the lock cylinder, keeping it clean from debris and ensuring the door and frame are perfectly aligned are key maintenance practices. We’d recommend avoiding the use of harsh chemicals or strong force when operating the lock. 

What are the advantages of a 3-star door lock cylinder and how does it enhance security?

A 3-star cylinder lock typically offers advanced security features, including anti-drill, anti-pick and anti-snap properties. These features significantly bolster resistance against common break-in techniques, providing robust security. 

All doors on our GFD Homes website come with a 3-star cylinder as standard (this is the most secure lock on the market), so you don’t need to worry about which type of lock/ lock cylinders you should choose for your home. 

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Tia Ellahi Digital Marketer
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