Which Locks Do I Use on a Bathroom Door

Choosing a bathroom lock

So, you’ve finally decided on the handles you’ll be fitting on your bathroom door, but now you’re faced with another decision: which lock to fit? Not only are bathroom locks essential for maintaining privacy in your home; they can also be an opportunity to add another gorgeous fitting to the door and act as a finishing touch to the overall look that you’ve created.

Whether you’re looking for a new bathroom lock that puts functionality first, or you have an eye for detail and the finish is everything, consider these tops tips when making your choice:

Finish + Style

Your bathroom handles and lock should either blend together seamlessly or complement each other. For consistency, we recommend choosing a lock that’s in the same finish as your bathroom handles (try using our ‘Shop by Finish’ function). If this isn’t available or you’d prefer something less ‘matchy’, choose a lock with details that pick out or highlight the finish of the door handles, and vice versa. An example of this would be pairing an Aged Nickel rim latch with a pair of Polished Nickel door knobs:



Consider who will be using the lock. If you have children or vulnerable adults in your household, we recommend fitting a lock that can be opened from the outside in case of emergency (read on to see which of our locks have this feature). If you’d prefer little ones not being able to lock themselves into the bathroom, consider placing the lock above head height and out of reach.

Ease of use

Some bathroom locks are easier to operate than others, and this may be a priority if living with any elderly adults or those with reduced mobility.  A barrel bolt, for example, has a very straightforward mechanism but is slightly fiddlier due to the small size of the knob, whereas a thumbturn is easily operated by all.


Last but not least, you’ll want to consider the quality of the lock you’re buying. The last thing you want is to end up trapped in the loo due to a broken lock! Home hardware needs to be as functional and reliable as it is aesthetically pleasing – a belief we hold firmly here at Willow & Stone!

If you have any doubts around fitting, we recommend enlisting the help of a professional.

Additional parts needed

Some locks will have the locking mechanism included in their design, but others will require this purchased separately. Check in with the supplier to find out what’s required for your lock to function, and make sure you have everything you need prior to fitting.

Now that you have a better idea of what you need from your lock, we’ll explore the features of the most common types of bathroom lock below:


This type of lock is incorporated into the latch for your handles, so both latch and lock are part of the same mechanism.

  • Sashlocks give you the opportunity to fit lever handles with a keyhole incorporated into the backplate (like our Aged Brass Reeded Lever Handles). This is a great option as the lock will blend seamlessly with the handles
  • As the keyhole will be present on both sides of the door, you can operate the lock from either side, although you will need to use a key
  • As the lock mechanism will need to be fitted inside the door, this is definitely a job for your carpenter

Sash lock seen with its parts, keys and screws

Rim Lock

The oldest type of lock used on doors, rim locks are mounted onto the surface of the door rather than being set into the edge. Rim locks incorporate a latch mechanism that’s operated by turning the door knobs, as well as a deadbolt that’s operated with a key.

  • These locks can be unlocked from the outside or inside of the door using a key. Our keyed rim locks are supplied with two keys – just bear in mind that one key will need to be kept outside of the bathroom to open the lock from the outside
  • As a more traditional style of lock, rim locks will add an authentic touch to period homes
  • If you choose this option, make sure your door knobs are compatible with rim locks (read our handy guide here)
  • As the rim lock will only be visible on the inside of the door, we recommend fitting an escutcheon around the keyhole on the outside of the door

Brass rim lock on bathroom door

Rim Latch

Rim latches will have a similar appearance on your door to rim locks, but rather than being operated with a key, the deadbolt slides across using a ‘snib’ (a small catch that’s pushed to one side).

  • Almost all of our rim latches feature an emergency release mechanism, so that the door can still be opened from the outside if needed
  • As these are operated by a snib, there’s no need to worry about losing the key!


Thumbturns are essentially a mini door handle – a small knob that’s fitted underneath your handle and turned 90 degrees to operate a deadbolt.

  • These are one of the most common types of bathroom lock and for good reason! Thumbturns are simple to use and can be easily matched to your handles
  • You can fit a thumbturn as a separate piece, or look for a handle that incorporates a thumbturn into the backplate, like our Reeded Lever Handles with Bathroom Lock
  • Thumbturns feature an emergency release that can be opened from the outside

Brass Thumb Turn

Barrel Bolt

The humble barrel bolt is one of the most basic types of lock which is why we love them – simply slide the bolt across the door to operate.

  • This is a great option for DIY fitting as it only requires drilling a few holes – all you’ll need to do is screw the bolt and keep into place
  • Unfortunately, barrel bolts can’t be opened from the outside, so only fit these if you’re confident your bathroom guests will be able to easily operate them
  • Available in a variety of sizes to suit your needs, whether you’re looking for something discreet or a longer bolt that will provide extra security for heavy doors

Three sizes of barrel bolts

Vacant/Engaged Lock

Also known as an indicator bolt, these locks are a classic choice for bathrooms. Turning the small lever on the inside of the door will change the dial from ‘Vacant’ to ‘Engaged’ whilst the door is locked.

  • These locks feature an emergency release so can be opened from the outside
  • A clear indication of whether the bathroom is occupied can be very handy in public spaces or houses with shared occupancy – no more surprises!
  • The Vacant/Engaged lettering on the outside of the door will make it clear to your guests where the bathroom is

 Vacant engaged latch on blue door

Now that you know what’s out there, you can choose a lock that suits your needs, looks great in your bathroom, and most importantly maintains your privacy. If you’re still unsure or would like some suggestions based on your current décor, get in touch with our friendly sales team who’ll be happy to help.