Door latches belong to a broad class of fastener-type mechanical hardware used to fasten doors shut after they have been closed. With door latches in place, door owners and operators may rest assured that a door will not swing open unless they release the latch themselves. The basic door latch consists of one fastener that is attached to two separate surfaces. Typically one surface is the door and another surface is the door frame.
In addition, while many door latches are used in conjunction with locking mechanisms of some sort, newer latches tend to be designed so that the latch and lock are one piece of hardware. Door latches are used with virtually every door type there is, including cabinetry doors, sliding doors, swinging doors, exterior doors, interior doors, and car doors. Additionally, they act as locking mechanisms for a variety of household and office appliances with door-like components, such as dishwashers.
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Advantages of Door Latches
As they are serving such diverse latching needs, door latches are available not only in customized designs but many standard style variations as well. Some of the more common door latch designs available include bolt latches, cabin hooks, cam locks, compression latches, deadbolt latches, mortise latches, norfolk latches, rim latches, slam latches, suffolk latches, and spring latches. Each door latch type is constructed somewhat differently and offers different strengths or latching mechanisms.
Deadbolt latches, for example, are types of latches that have built-in locking mechanisms. They feature a single-throw bolt that can only be engaged after the door has been closed. If the latch in question is a spring door latch, it will look much like the basic latch, except that it will have a fourth component, a spring, that pushes the bar or pin into the groove or notch attached to the other plate. It will also have a lever or knob attached with which an operator can extend or retract the free moving pin or groove portion in order to let the door swing open or force the door to stay closed, respectively.
Cam locks, on the other hand, are latched and unlatched with the assistance of a key or another tool. They consist of a base and a cam. To work, an operator inserts the key into the base and rotates it. In turn, the cam rotates as well and locks or unlocks the latch.
Design of Door Latches
Though door latches are designed to fit the needs of many different door types and provide security at many different levels, all door latches are composed of the same basic three components: two plates and a bar, hook, or pin.
The first door latch plate has either an external groove or loop or an internal notch and, typically, it is attached to the frame adjacent to the door. The other plate is attached to the door itself. To hold the two separate plates together, a bar, hook, or pin component is attached to the door plate. This is a free-moving piece. When the door is closed this component of the latch can be slid or swung into the loop, groove, or notch.
Materials Used in Door Latches
Regardless of their exact configuration, generally speaking, all door latches are made via both the metalworking process known as stamping and the process of spot welding. During the stamping process, flat sheet metal is stamped, or pressed, into shapes. To finish the job, these shapes are later organized, assembled and spot welded into full latches. To make sure that they can withstand the potential stress loads and heavy use that they will encounter, manufacturers usually construct door latches using durable and sturdy materials.
Such materials include but are not limited to:
In addition, some customers may wish to have the latches of highly visible doors made out of aesthetically pleasing materials, such as brass. Or, they may wish to coat their heavy-duty metal door latches with powders, paints, or attractive finishing materials like chrome or brass plating. For those door latches that will have lighter requirements, manufacturers also have the option of using high-strength thermoplastics to construct plastic latches. For lighter duty applications, plastic latches work just as well as metal latches, while offering the added benefits of high impact resistance and flexibility.
To find out more about the types of door latches and materials of door latches available to you, contact a reputable latch manufacturer. For the best advice, speak with one of the manufacturers listed on this page; they are all hardworking, capable, and ready to work with you.