Security is an important consideration for every home owner and the most obvious concern is the security of the main entrance to their home: the front door. There are several factors which contribute to a secure entranceway and many of them have to do with the physical properties of your door and locks as well as the installation of both. Here we will break down these factors into several categories: door materials and installation; locks; and window placement.
Door Materials and Installation
It stands to reason that the stronger your door is, the better it will stand up to attempts to force entry but this is not the only factor to consider. The installation methods used on your door are also critically important to ensuring a secure entranceway.
All exterior doors should be solid and made of strong materials such as fiberglass, solid wood, or metal. Hollow doors (usually made of cardboard with a thin sheet of veneer over top) are easily broken and should be replaced immediately. If choosing metal doors, ensure that they are reinforced inside and include a lock block: Without this they may be easily bent out of their frame with a car jack.
Many front doors are installed so that they open inwards but doors which swing outward will offer greater resistance to applied force and be more difficult to break down. Additionally, hinges should be placed facing inside whenever possible to prevent tampering or removal. Exposed hinges should always be secured with non-removable pins. The screw securing the hinges used to attach your door to the frame should be at least 3” long and reach the wall studs. Otherwise the frame can be tampered with or the door removed more easily.
Locks and Deadbolts
Once you have ensured that your door itself is strong and secure, a good lock is your next best defense against unwanted people entering your home. Not only should you install good locks, it is important to ensure that all parts of the lock which may be tampered with are also protected adequately.
Doorknob locks are much more easily forced than a good deadbolt lock so including relying solely on them is not a good idea. Install deadbolt locks on every exterior door to increase your security. Don’t forget the door that connects your garage to the rest of the house: garage doors are notoriously easy to bypass and the garage should be treated more as an outside space than an inside one for security purposes. Make sure the deadbolt you choose is high quality, solid metal with no exposed screws on the exterior of the door and a throw bolt which extends at least 1” into the door frame when locked.
Lock cylinders can sometimes be damaged or tampered with by hammering, wrenching, or prying with various tools. To prevent this, purchase a lock with a free-spinning ring around the cylinder.
The strike plate is the piece of metal which surrounds the hole in the door frame into which the lock bolt slides when closed. This plate should be secured with 4 3” screws and be made of a heavy-duty metal. The screws should attach to the underlying stud, not simply the door jamb.
There is not much point in having the most secure door in the world if you have a window right next to it which can be easily smashed in order to gain access. For this reason, doors with windows should never be used as external security doors and windows should be kept far enough away that a burglar cannot reach in and unlock the door.