The doors to your home is essential in welcoming guests but at the same time can be an entry point for unwanted guests. According to FBI compiled crime data, burglars mostly break into your home through doors rather than breaking and climbing through windows. So, your first defense against intruders is to make sure your doors are well-secured.
This post will focus on fortifying your home’s doors as your first defense against burglaries. However, be sure that you layer your security with cameras and a security system rather than focusing only on the front door.
1. Install a Security Door
Security doors can be made of different materials, shape, and strength. Some of these doors are even designed to inhibit the spread of fire in case of fire accidents. Security doors offer some level of protection so you can safely access your home while preventing intruders.
After your door jamb is strengthened, the weakest point on the door is the area around the locks and door knob. They can easily break when your door is kicked and allow a burglar inside. Security doors reinforce this area and near the hinges to insure the door is not the weakest point of your entrance.
Keep in mind, though, that proper installation of security doors is very crucial to serve its purpose. Some burglars are clever are enough to find a loophole in your security and could easily compromise your door locks given the right tools. Make sure that you don’t install your doors with spaces on the edge. Double check your door frames as well. If in doubt, ask a professional to do the job for you to ensure that everything is properly installed.
Reinforce the Jamb, Hinges, and Strike Plates
Even the strongest doors and high quality locks can still be defeated if your door jambs are not sturdy enough. Door jambs are the inner lining of the door frame made with wooden spacer shims.
You can secure the jamb using long wood screws at least 3 inches long to ensure that it reaches from the jamb through the framing studs. Create a pilot hole on the door jamb and install the long screw around the jamb.
To reinforce the door hinges and strike plates, you can replace the short hinge screws (usually less than one inch) with longer screws to reach from the door jamb and into the framing studs. The screws used to attach the strike plates to the door jambs are generally short as well and you can reinforce this with longer screws to make sure that it hits the framing studs.
Also, don’t forget to do the same thing on the side with the hinges. I’ve seen reports of burglars kicking in the hinge side since the lock side is sometimes reinforced when the hinges aren’t.
Our previous article describes more details on how to reinforce door jambs, hinges, and strike plates. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already implemented those improvements.
2. Use High Quality Door Locks
When choosing the hardware for your door’s lock, make sure that it meets as many of the qualities below to discourage thieves.
- If your door opens outside, does it have tamper-resistant hinges? Experienced burglars often check the front door to see if the door opens outside, exposing the hinge pins. This would make it easier for them to lift the door off the hinges and get access to your home without unlocking it.
- Does the lock have anti-tamper pins? With the popularity of bump keys and automatic bump guns that can open a door in seconds with no signs of forced entry, having locks with stacked pins, springs, and other countermeasures is critical to prevent these attacks.
- Is the lock cylinder easy to force open? Common attacks include using a screwdriver inside the lock cylinder and forcing the lock open. The first smart locks from Schlage were notoriously easy to defeat with this approach.
- Can the entire lock be twisted and broken? Grabbing the deadbolt or handle with a pipe wrench and wringing off the entire lock is also possible (breaking the screws that hold the two halves of the lock together).
- Does it have a hardened cylinder or pins that are designed to prevent drilling? By drilling out the lock cylinder with a battery-operated screwdriver, the pins are allowed to drop freely, opening the lock.
Front door locks are the generally the first target of intruders trying to enter your home. Any flaws of the hardware can be easily exploited by an experienced burglar and putting your home security at risk.
If you don’t already have one, a high quality deadbolt is recommended to add security to your doors. Deadbolts cannot be easily bypassed with a screwdriver or credit card since you still need to actuate the lock cylinder unlike an ordinary door knob.
3. Reinforce Glass Doors
If your doors are made of glass or surrounded with glass sidelights, you can reinforce your door by replacing the glass with security glazing such as laminated glass, Plexiglass, and polycarbonate. Installing a metal security window grille through the sidelights or the inside of your door is another way to harden your interest, though you’ll have to determine where to draw the line between aesthetics and security.
If you have sliding glass doors, you can also reinforce them by installing a door bar or rod as a secondary lock to discourage intruder from unlocking the door using a screwdriver or crow bar. Adding glass break sensors, filling in the space between the top of the door and track using any filler material or screws (so that the door cannot be easily lifted up), and improving the primary lock are also highly recommended to increase the level of security. You can find more details on how to do this here.
4. Install Door Sensors to Connect to an Alarm
If for any reason, the burglar is able to bypass your front door security successfully, door alarm sensors are helpful to notify you and the police immediately. Moreover, alarms can also discourage burglars from staying longer in your property to search for your valuables.
There are many kinds of door alarms you can choose from, depending on your budget and specifications. You can go for the traditional wired alarm sensors or go for wireless that automatically connects to the internet so you can view the status through your mobile app (which is very helpful if you’re not at home). Most alarm sensors nowadays can be easily integrated into your existing home security system for convenience. You can even combine door sensors with a home camera system for an added layer of security.
Fortifying your front door is worth the investment if it means saving your family and valuables from burglars. There are many ways you can do to improve your front door security and discourage intruders from getting access through your house. Remember that the front door is just your first defense and it is always recommended to have a layered level of security to protect your family and valuables.
Hi, I’m Christy, and I’m an electronics engineer by profession. I have taught in a university for 2 years while pursuing my master’s degree in cognitive radio and worked for a company to develop wireless medical devices. Currently, I’m doing research for a doctorate degree in engineering using a wireless sensor network for smart agriculture. I’ve been active in our local IoT community, IoT Cebu, where I participate in conducting talks about Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and DIY home automation using Wi-Fi and ZigBee devices.