Hardening Your Doors Against Attack

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The most likely place that criminals will enter any home is through the front door. That’s proven out through the years by FBI statistics of crimes. It remains that way, even during a time of crisis. So, it only makes sense to make it as hard as possible to come through the front door, if you want to protect your home and family.

Conventional wisdom says to install a deadbolt on the door; or, if you’re paranoid, install two or three of them. But in reality, those deadbolts can’t do much. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the deadbolts themselves, it’s that they are going into a piece of ¾” thick pine, with the hole about ½” from the edge of the board. One well placed kick from a booted foot will cause that deadbolt to break through the door frame and the door to sprint open.

This same problem doesn’t exist for commercial doors, which usually have metal frames. But unless you buy a pretty expensive door for your home, which probably isn’t going to be all that attractive, you’re not going to have that steel frame. But that doesn’t mean all is without hope.

Selecting the right door is important. A solid wood door or a wood door with a metal skin is much stronger and resistant to break-in. Don’t buy a door that’s metal skinned over a foam core though, as many of them are. Those are usually thin aluminum and the core doesn’t do a thing to provide any real strength. All it does is hold the aluminum in place and provide some insulation.

Windows are an important issue as well. A large window can make it easy to break in, as all they need to do is break the glass and then reach in to open the door. If you want a window, either have it high up, where they won’t be able to reach the deadbolt on the inside or cover the inside with a grating, so that they can’t put their arm through, even after breaking the window.

A lot can be accomplished by installing a security striker plate to replace the standard one. The best of these are about three feet long, with a number of holes, allowing screws to be installed every six inches. They should be installed with screws at least three inches long, so that the screws will go through the door frame and into the structural studs behind it. That way, the force from that same booted foot will be spread over a larger area, keeping the deadbolt from breaking through the door frame.

While that is being done, the hinge screws should be replaced with longer ones too. If the door doesn’t already have security hinges, they should be upgraded. These security hinges have a tab in one leaf, which fits into a hole in the other, when the door is closed. That allows them to function like mini-deadbolts, helping to secure the door.

Another good addition is to install one of the security devices which attach to the bottom of the door and go into the floor, especially if your home is built on a concrete slab. The “bolt” in that case, would be going into concrete. It also has the advantage of being in a place where criminals will have trouble reaching it, even if they do break the window.

Then, of course, you could go old school and bar the door, just like they did with the castle in Medieval times. While that might not be the most attractive of solutions, it will definitely work, if the brackets are solidly attached to the home’s structure.