Fortify your exterior doors for extra security
Jan 27, 2022, 3:00 PM
While you may welcome guests into your home through your front, side, or garage doors, you need to make it difficult for burglars to get in. Here are some simple DIY tips to reinforce the entry points of your house.
Many exterior doors are hollow, limiting the effectiveness of any protective device. For added security, consider replacing a hollow door with a standard exterior, solid door.
Steel front doors are the least expensive when compared with fiberglass or wood. They come in many different styles and panel configurations, but you probably won’t be able to find one with the rustic look that’s most popular for Southwestern-style stucco homes.
Solid-core and metal doors are harder to kick open than hollow doors, so consider them for all entry points. Pella, a Rosie-Certified Partner, offers many options.
Secure sliding glass doors with a locking jamb pin to prevent the door from being lifted out of the track and removed. Place a large decal on the glass that warns burglars of your home security system.
Rosie is a big believer in security doors, not the farmhouse-kind of screen door that keeps the bugs out, but the metal security screen door with a deadbolt. They are the most cost-effective tool for home security. With a security door, a burglar must go through two systems. The screen door’s jamb can’t be broken with a big hammer or pried loose. A good screen security door is a huge asset. The hinges are secured with non-removable pins so the door can’t be taken off hinges. All it takes with a cheap screen door is rope and a hearty tug to pull it off the hinges.
Check out Rosie-Certified Partner, Arizona Sun Screen for options.
What good is a solid door if the locks and bolts are subpar?
The door itself doesn’t have as much to do with security as you may think. The door jamb is the weakest link. All a burglar needs to do is take a large hammer and hit the deadbolt or lock. The doorjamb will split, and the door can be opened in a matter of five seconds, particularly in the afternoon when everyone is at work.
It’s the doorknobs and deadbolts that do the work.
Doorknobs and deadbolts come in three classes – one, two, and three as rated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for durability and performance.
One is the lowest quality, cheapest product that virtually provides you without any security at all. For a house, don’t buy anything below class two. Almost every residential hardware manufacturer makes a class three, which is what Rosie recommends.
Install a deadbolt lock with a one-inch or longer throw bolt (horizontal bolt) that requires a key to open it, plus a doorknob that needs a key. That’s two layers of protection right there.
Invest in a four-screw, high-security strike plate as part of your door’s hardware. Use three-inch-long wood screws to secure strike plates and door hinges.
Pro Tip: If your door has a glass window, be sure to use a double cylinder deadbolt – the type that requires a key to enter from the outside and to exit from the inside. Note: Don’t place the key next to the door. If the burglar breaks the glass, they might be able to reach the key. Speaking of breaking glass, it is not likely that a burglar will do that. It’s too loud and will attract attention. That said, you don’t want to be the exception to the rule.
Buy the best lock you can afford. Insurance company research shows that burglars often bypass homes with high-quality locks because they’re harder to pick or break.
A class three deadbolt or doorknob is usually kick and bump resistant. A class one deadbolt will cost $7 to $10 and a class three $25 to $40 (as of January 2022).
You can determine the class on the hardware’s packaging. However, the class is not required to be printed. If the class is not noted on the package, don’t buy it. Install Schlage or Kwikset and you will be well secured.
For even more security, consider buying a lock with these special features:
• Anti-drill feature. Hardened steel chips within the lock housing tear up a drill bit when someone tries to drill through the lock.
• Saw-resistant bolts. Internal anti-saw pins spin freely inside the bolt to spin back and forth with every movement of a saw blade—which will foil someone’s effort to saw through the lock.
• Hardened cased steel or beveled casings. The outside housing of a deadbolt lock is called the “casing” or “case.” Some are made from hardened steel, which makes the casing more resilient against blows from a hammer. Some casings are beveled, which makes it hard to get pliers or pipe wrenches to stay on the lock while trying to twist it loose.
• Double-cylinder deadbolt. A lock that opens only with a key from the inside or outside is a good choice if you choose a door with glass sidelights or panels. A burglar can break the glass and unlock the door if it’s not keyed from the inside. (Check your local building codes and with your insurance to make sure double-cylinder deadbolts are allowed in your area. In some places, the locks are considered a fire safety issue.)
In the 1990s home builders started to put kickplates in jambs. Doors installed earlier than that are very susceptible to being broken into. Upgrade your door and hardware if your house was built before the 1990s.
Pay as much attention to securing the door to your attached garage as you do to the front door. Secure the doors that lead to the outside and the door that opens from the inside of the garage into the house.
The garage door probably is a home’s least-secure entry point. If a burglar can get into the garage, he can do almost anything else without worrying that the neighbors will notice.
Advanced Coatings Engineering LLC (ACE) has engineered a non-breakable film that goes over windows and is available to the public. It is much more than a film that keeps a room cooler or prevents people from looking in.
Their three-ply laminate is comprised of a six directional weave. They state that “Shear forces cannot simply ‘crack’ the laminate thereby letting a projectile through,” including bullets! Watch their videos.
The material can be sized by almost anyone who is reasonably handy. Their techs use slim-profile Olfa knives which can be bought at most home improvement stores for roughly $10.
Door Armor’s Jamb Shield is a patented solution that reinforces the weak points on your existing doors so they cannot be kicked in, even by the Karate Kid. It is 40 inches long and attaches to the lock side of the door jamb.
The jamb shield is cut with knock-out holes that are designed to fit locks spaced from 4-1/2 inches to 21-1/2 inches apart.
Designed for interior doors, the Door Armor PRO SafeRoom Combo Set is designed to fit a 1-3/8-inch interior door.
Be sure to add the Door Armor Night Lock. The Night Lock provides additional security to the bottom of your door.
It is ideal for providing extra security for double doors, but can be used on single and sidelight doors, too.
The Night Lock is best when used on doors that are not your main entrance because it can’t be applied once you are outside of the house.
Night Lock is installed directly to your floor providing stable security to prevent forced entry.
Door Armor’s products are easy to install. Their designs ensure that maximum protection requires minimal skill for installation. Purchase them from our eStore.
Keep track of the people who have copies of your house keys. Sometimes thieves get keys from an acquaintance. Some manufacturers offer locks with keys that can be copied only by certain locksmiths or by the manufacturer.
Never leave a key or hide a key outside on your own property. Burglars know exactly which hide-a-keys are being sold! If you want one outside see if your neighbor is OK with you putting it in his yard – and you can return the favor.
A burglar will only be in a house for 60 to 90 seconds. They know what they are looking for and where to find it. Don’t make it easy. Move heirloom and expensive jewelry from the chest of drawers, closets, boxes, and the master bathroom. Either put them in a safe that is bolted to the floor or a safety deposit box.
The No. 1 item(s) burglars are seeking is anything that they can use to steal your identity. Keep bills and banks statements with account numbers and checks or credit cards locked in a file cabinet. If you have a laptop, lock it up when you are not home. Your computer is full of saved passwords that make it easy for a thief to steal and sell your identity on the dark web. A piece of jewelry can only be sold once. However, your identity can be sold 50 to 60 times!
Take the extra steps and upgrade your doors and the hardware. Best to be safe than sorry!
Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.