ANSI/BHMA Standards For Residential Grade Hardware

June 1, 2010
Product grades are defined by performance benchmarks, with Grade 1 being the highest level of performance.

The following is information provided by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and lock manufacturers. The information is generalized. For the most up-to-date information, contact ANSI or BHMA for a copy of the specific standard.

The BHMA works with the ANSI to develop and publish performance standards for Builders Hardware. These standards have cycle, functional strength, security, dimension and finish requirements. If the products meet the standards when tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, the products may be listed in the “Directory of Certified Products,” a directory published by BHMA. Individual standards and the “Directory of Certified Products” are updated over periods of time and are available for purchase. The latest version supersedes all previous versions.

For locksmiths, there are certified standards for:

The value of testing provides product improvement, quality control and enhanced industry integrity. Testing and auditing procedures involved in certification lead to tighter design specifications and manufacturing procedures, resulting in a better quality product. Certification fosters quality control in the manufacturing process, resulting in greater product uniformity and consistent testing values, which leads to uniform, high caliber products that meet specified criteria, eliminating the possibility of inferior product substitutions.

Although the list of certified standards is important for commercial and institutional applications, in this article we will be discussing residential applications. A residential application will mainly cover:

Most homes, condominiums and apartments have mechanical locks on the exterior doors. Some lock applications are available with an electrified option such as the battery-operated deadbolts that are still equipped with a mechanical lock.

Residential lock types include knob and lever locks, mortise locks, deadbolt locks and interconnected locks. Interconnected locks are life safety approved deadbolt and entry locks that are functionally connected to each other. The purpose is to provide egress (retracting the deadbolt and the latch bolt) by operating just the knob or lever.

Residential Grade locks are considered Grade 2 and Grade 3.

Standard ANSI/BHMA A156.2-2003 establishes requirements for bored and preassembled locks and latches. The Standard includes general information, definitions, dimensional criteria, tests (procedures and required equipment) and their required results to meet grade standards. The following information is a quick look from the 2003 standard.

As an example, the standard differentiates between a “Patio and Privacy Lock,” where the outside lever is locked and unlocked from the interior, and a “Communicating Lock,” which can be locked and unlocked from either side.

The latch bolt projection for locksets with deadlocking latch bolts all Grades is ½”. The latch bolt projection for locksets with latch bolts that are not dead latching Grades 1 and 2 is ½” inch. Grade 3 is 3/8”.

Tests and required results in this standard include operational, strength, cycle, security, material evaluations and finish. An example of the 2003 performance cycle test requires a Grade 1 (highest) lock to complete at least 800,000 cycles, a Grade 2 400,000 cycles and a Grade 3 to complete at least 200,000 cycles.

The Dead Latch and Strike Impact Tests vary dramatically from Grade 1 to 2 to 3. A Grade 1 test includes three sets of blows at different foot pounds: two blows at 60 foot pounds, two blows at 90 foot pounds and two blows at 120 foot pounds. A Grade 2 test includes two sets of blows at different foot pounds: two blows at 60 foot pounds and two blows at 90 foot pounds. A Grade 3 test includes one set of blows: two blows at 60 foot pounds.

In addition, there are specific tests for a Grade 1 lock including the Abusive Locked Lever Test where the outside lock lever shall be subjected to torque of 1,000 pounds inches. After torque is applied, failure shall occur if access is gained – a reason for Grade one lever locks to be equipped with through bolting.

All keyed cylinders used in these locks shall be of the pin tumbler type and shall have five or more pin tumbler cavities. The keyways shall have longitudinal ribs. Modification of these requirements to provide greater security is permitted.

There are two parts of Standard ANSI/BHMA A156.5-2001. The first part establishes requirements for auxiliary bored and mortise locks, rim locks, cylinders and push button mechanisms. Part two establishes requirements for indexed key control systems. This standard includes definitions, dimensional characteristics, component designs, illustrations, type numbers, descriptions and tests (including equipment requirements and procedures).

Tests and required results for A156.5-2001 include operational, finish, security and cylinder requirements. Product grades are defined by progressive performance benchmarks in the given tests, with Grade 1 being the highest level of performance.

The ANSI/BHMA A156.12-2005 Standard establishes performance requirements for Interconnected Locks and includes operational tests, strength tests, security tests, cycle tests, finish tests and dimensional criteria.

An example of the tests performed is the Axial Load Test. The standard is intended to test strength of the trim attachment to the door. With the door blocked, dynamometer load is applied to the outside lever or knob, along the lock axis perpendicular to the face of the door. The test is repeated to the inside lever or knob.

A Grade 1 interconnected Lock is 500 lbf , a Grade 2 is 300 lbf and a Grade 3 is 250 lbf.

The Standard ANSI/BHMA A156.13-2002 establishes requirements for Mortise Locks and Latches and includes definitions, general information, dimensional criteria and tests (equipment requirements and procedures).

Product grades are defined by progressive performance benchmarks in the given tests, with Grade 1 being the highest level of performance.

For example, in the Cylinder Tension Test for a Grade 1 mortise lock must be able to withstand 3,600 lbf, as compared to a Grade 3, which requires 1,000 lbf.

For more information on Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), go to Web Site:

For more information on American National Standards Institute (ANSI), go to Web Site: