How much should I spend on a padlock?

A padlock is a one-off cost for securing your valuables. But what kind of padlock do you choose? The type of material your padlock is made from has a big bearing on the security level and the price.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a padlock that reflects the value of the items you want to protect. A shed with some potting mix doesn’t necessarily need a costly, high-tech model, but a shed housing your boat and power tools may.

Low cost, low security

Brass is a relatively soft metal making it quick and therefore cheap to machine. Consequently brass padlocks are low cost but easy to attack.

A further consideration is the possibility of sharp edges that scratch surfaces and hands alike, although more expensive models negate this with mitered or rounded edges.

Outdoor padlock products
Indoor padlock products

Laminated steel padlocks are constructed from several pre-punched thin steel plates riveted together. They are also relatively inexpensive to manufacture and therefore low cost but the exposed river heads are a weak point.

Plastic bumpers on the base reduce the risk of scratches.

Higher cost, higher security

Solid steel and case-hardened steel padlocks are very durable and tamper resistant. They are typically used in higher security applications and are often chrome or zinc-plated to resist corrosion.

Stainless steel padlocks are also very durable and tamper resistant but generally hold up to the elements better than solid steel.

If your padlock will be exposed to extreme conditions or salty environments, consider upgrading your solid steel or stainless steel padlock to a marine-grade version which is specifically designed to withstand corrosion.

When it comes to choosing the right material for your use also consider what the shackle is made from.