Does a Bathroom Door Need a Lock


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Most people would automatically assume that bathroom doors need locks. After all, what’s the use of a door without a lock? However, there are certain situations in which the answer is not this straightforward. In fact, under certain circumstances a lock can make the bathroom door quite unsafe, so it is helpful to know what the rules are about bathroom door locks.

Building codes do not regulate whether bathroom doors should have locks or not. Thus, installing a lock is a personal preference. If there are young kids or elderly persons in the house consider installing a lock that can be opened from the outside. These allow privacy, but also ensure an easy solution in case of an emergency.

Whether you are trying to make your home a little safer for your loved ones, trying to make a good renovation decision, or just wondering why the bathroom door at your friend’s house does not have a lock, then read on for all the answers to your questions.  

What Do the Building Codes Say About Bathroom Door Locks

Any building is regulated by certain building codes. You must always check these codes before making any alterations or renovations to your home. The code that is applicable almost everywhere is the International Residential Code (IRC), which is compiled by the International Code Council (ICC).

The IRC does not specify that bathroom doors need locks, but you should also check your local building codes just to be sure. 

Reasons Why You Should Install a Bathroom Door Lock

Bathroom Locks Provide Privacy

Privacy is the most obvious reason for wanting a lock in your bathroom door. A bathroom door with a lock is not intended to deliver any significant level of security (i.e., it is not meant to be impenetrable), but rather, it ensures that you can attend to your personal needs in complete privacy.

A bathroom door is made with a hollow core and is not built to keep you safe. Unlike the exterior door, the bathroom door isn’t that strong.

If privacy is your foremost concern then a bathroom door with a lock is a must to keep people away as and when you need it. It also saves you from moments of awkwardness in case someone absent-mindedly tries to open the bathroom door when you are inside!

For some people, privacy is not so important and they will even leave the door open when using the bathroom—lock or no lock.

Bathroom Locks Act as Child-Proofing

Nobody is as curious as a child. A child’s mind is always seeking new experiences. Sometimes their unbridled energy and curiosity can cause accidents and harm to themselves. Every year, innumerable children are treated for bathroom-related injuries.

In most homes, the bathroom cabinet is where the drugs, bath/shower, and cleaning products are stored. Electronic devices like a curling iron, hairdryer, etc. are also kept in the bathroom along with shaving razors and trimmers.

Without a lock on the bathroom door, a child can easily get access to any of these items and can get hurt.

As bathrooms are such hazardous places for children without adult supervision, a door with a lock is an effective and vital part of child-proofing your home and preventing any accidents.

Berlin Modisch Privacy Lever Door Handle [Thumb Turn Lock on The Inside] for Bedroom or Bathroom with a Satin Nickel Finish, Reversible for Right & Left Side, Classic Series

Keep in mind that you will need a lock that can be opened from the outside, such as the Berlin Modisch Privacy Lever Door Handle(amazon). Look for locks that have a slot on the outside of the door, this means that it can be locked/unlocked with a coin from the outside.

Bathroom Locks Can Affect the Saleability of Your House

Every buyer wants to buy a house that already has all the necessary fixtures. This saves them the time and the hassle of installing such items post-sale. Since most people prefer bathrooms with locks, it’s only natural that an interested buyer will prefer if the locks are already installed.

This way, the potential buyer won’t have to incur the cost of installing the locks themselves. Having locks already installed will surely increase the saleability of your property in the real estate market.

While installing locks, it’s always better to install locks that are durable and from a known brand. Since the bathroom is one of the most visited places in the house the door will be used tens of times every day.

Copper Creek DL1231SS Daley Lever, Satin Stainless

Reasons Why You Should Not Install a Bathroom Door Lock

Children Cannot Lock Themselves In the Bathroom

One of the fears that most parents have is their child getting locked accidentally in the bathroom, especially in their absence. This is a primary reason why some homes prefer not to have any lock on the bathroom door. A child might get locked inside by accident and then not understand what to do in order to unlock the door again.

Some kids hate taking baths and will do everything in their power to put off taking a bath like locking their parents out on purpose. Such situations are more dangerous if you have started to run a bath! This is where a lock that can be opened from the outside comes in handy.

A child is at a greater risk of slipping, falling, and having bathtub injuries. Children locking themselves in the bathroom also come with the hassle of calling a locksmith and breaking the lock. So, such incidents can be easily avoided if there’s no lock on the door, or if the lock can be opened from the outside.

Mentally Impaired People Cannot Lock Themselves In the Bathroom

Anyone who has an intellectually disabled person or an elderly person with dementia or Alzheimer’s living with them will prefer to not have locks in the bathroom doors. Such people require special care and attention, and one must always keep a watchful eye on them.

If they lock themselves inside by chance, then it might lead to hazardous situations where they can get hurt physically. Such unfortunate occurrences can also trigger panic attacks.

Getting locked in the bathroom accidentally will be a very stressful and overwhelming situation. Not just for the elderly or disabled person, but also for the people who are outside the door. It will be very difficult for someone to guide a mentally impaired person or an elderly person with dementia or Alzheimer’s to unlock the door.

Not having a lock on the bathroom door is always preferred if you are living with an intellectually disabled person or an elderly person with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Compromise: A Privacy Door Handle

Privacy is important; so is making sure that no unfortunate incident happens when the bathroom doors have a lock. So, what’s the solution? It’s very simple. The solution is installing a privacy door lever/knob.

Installing locks that can be easily opened from outside with a coin/pin is the way to have the best of both worlds. A privacy door handle will ensure that you still have the liberty to lock the door when you want complete privacy as well as open the door easily from outside in case it’s locked by mistake. 

A privacy door handle allows you complete peace of mind in every way. In case your children lock themselves inside accidentally or on purpose to get away from taking a bath, you can easily open the door without having to call a locksmith.

In your absence, you can lock the bathroom door to ensure your kids don’t get access to medications, razors, or electric appliances kept in the cabinet. Not only kids, now you won’t have to worry about anyone getting locked inside, especially a family member who is mentally impaired or an elderly person with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

While choosing a bathroom lock it’s always advisable to choose something simple, easy, and durable. It has to be simple and easy so that every member of your family can open the lock without any difficulty. Simplicity in the locking mechanism is especially important if you live with older people or people who are specially-abled.

Your bathroom should be your place of comfort and safety. Therefore, choosing a bathroom door with a lock or without a lock depends upon your requirements. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s effective and convenient for all residents of your home.

Related Article: Do You Really Need a Bathroom Door in a Master Bathroom

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