Rim Latches And Locks

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Rim latches and locks hold a door closed. They are installed and operate on the surface of a door. A deadbolt, by contrast, is installed within the door and door frame. As far as decor is concerned, rim latches and locks are used in period design. That most frequently means the country or retro look.

The Wheres and Hows of Rim Latches and Locks

You see rim latches most often on fence gates and garden gates. They're also typical of garden sheds and barns or stable doors. Interior doors, particularly in colonial-style design, will also feature rim latches and locks.

Older rim latches were used in the same settings, that is, garden gates and interior doors. They were used also for exterior doors for some time. The fundamental lock mechanism was the same as in within-frame mechanisms of contemporary doors. The parts were simply smaller, simpler and less durable. Furthermore, because they were surface fitted, they could be removed by force. Rim hardware on exterior doors therefore pretty much disappeared from use toward the end of the 19th century.

The lock component of the usual rim latch is no more than a catch that slips down to hold the latch into its housing. Imagine the wrought iron latch to a garden gate and there you have it. Fitting rim latches is therefore as simple as it gets. You need to align them horizontally. The two surfaces will need to meet fairly flush. There is usually enough play in the latch hardware that this "flush" needn't be absolute.

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