This post was written for SafeWise by the lock expert Ralph Goodman. He is a local locksmith and writes for the United Locksmith Lock Blog.
One of the most important aspects of any home are its doors. Doors play a major role in the security of homes since they are essentially the first point of contact of anyone wishing to enter your home. Some people view doors as a personal statement, while others view them solely as a means of protecting everything within their home. A door is a gateway. And keeping that gateway strong and secure is a key factor to maintaining exceptional home security. The use of alarms, motion sensors, surveillance cameras, and even our furry best friends are all well and good, but none of these would be entirely effective if your home did not have a door.
Why Are Doors Important?
The importance of doors cannot be overstated. They exist as the first barrier between you and the outside world. A door keeps you in, and all the unwanted people out. It is the perfect symbol of privacy. An open door beckons people inside, while a door that is closed gives people the idea that whoever is behind said door would like to be left alone, or that they want to be notified before anyone attempts to enter. If the world were an ideal place, the a simple request for privacy and closed doors would deter burglars and unwanted guests. However, since the world is not as ideal as we would all like to think, many of the homes that make use of doors would benefit even more if they increased their strength.
One of the best ways to maximize the security of your home is to make sure that your doors are functioning at their fullest potential. You are probably wondering, “how can one achieve this?”. Walk with me my young padawan, and let me outline some simple and effective methods homeowners can employ to strengthen their doors.
Improving the Locks
A door is only as strong as the locking mechanism that holds it in place. The door to your home might be made of the strongest material known to man. However, if the lock on the door is sub-par, your door can easily be broken down and the lock will be bypassed. Granted, it wouldn’t take a considerable amount of work to knock the door down, but with the right locks in place your doors are given renewed strength. There are some homeowners who do not put great emphasis on the locks that they use on their doors. This is a dangerous thing to do because of the number of methods that burglars can use to bypass a lock. There are several good ways improve the locks on your door. If you have Euro Cylinder Locks, you can either replace them or upgrade to ones that are equipped with anti-snap cylinders. Euro Cylinder locks are a good example of locks that are easily bypassed. Homeowners can also look into adding security pins in their lock mechanism or even changing the material that the springs in their locks are made of. These minor additions work well to increase the efficiency of your locks. This also makes it considerably more difficult for anyone that attempts to pick the locks on your door. In addition to the methods described above, you can switch out your locks to Grade 1 Deadbolts which work superbly well. You can employ one of these options or use them altogether. No matter what you decide to do, I can assure that your door will be a lot stronger than it used to be.
Reinforcing the Strike Plate
The strike plate is a very important component of any door. A door that has a good strike plate offers additional strength and resistance against intruders. For those of you who do not know what a strike plate is, keep reading. The more traditional strike plate is the latch strike plate. The latch strike plate allows the door to open or close in two different motions. The first is when pressure is applied to the door knob, which allows the latch to retract and the door to be opened. The second motion occurs without any pressure being applied to the door knob. The latch is retracted once it comes into contact with the lip. The lip is the shiny curved metal piece that is affixed into the door frame. That shiny little component and the portion of the door frame that the latch gets affixed to, are what comprise a traditional strike plate. Traditional strike plates are not made with safety in mind, but are instead geared toward enhancing the motion of opening and closing the door.
It is advised that homeowners who only have locks, which make use of the latch mechanism, improve their security by upgrading to deadbolts. This does not necessarily mean that you have to do away with the lock you already have in place. You can work on adding a deadbolt to the door to increase its maximum security. This will allow you to continue to use your door in the way you are already accustomed to, while also having an additional layer of security with the added strike plate. For homeowners that already have deadbolts installed as the locks on their doors, you can increase the overall strength of your door by reinforcing the strike plate for the deadbolt. This is a simple DIY addition that many homeowners can take care of on their own, but if you do not feel supremely confident in your ability to do so, then you can always call the professionals for help.
When you are thinking about reinforcing something, it is important to first identify what can be considered the weak link, and then focusing your energy on making sure that the weak link is strengthened.
Choosing the Right Material For Your Door
The material of your door plays an integral part in the overall your home is afforded. If a door has a solid core, it becomes a lot harder for it to be broken down with force. Solid core doors also tend to last longer than their counterparts. Mostly due to the fact that they are much more resistant to the wear and tear of daily use. It is advised that doors with solid cores are used for the exterior of your home because, more often than not, exterior doors are what burglars pay the most attention to. Any doors that can be accessed from outside of the house should be strengthened in this way so the residence is not an easy target for thieves. Additionally, solid core doors are good at minimizing sound and providing insulation.
Steel doors and solid wood doors are some of the best options that homeowners can go with, in comparison to cheap hollow doors that offer little to no resistance at all. This is not to say that hollow doors do not have their uses. They are a cheaper option, and are well suited for fulfilling your interior door needs. However, when it comes to securing your home, safety outweighs the economic benefits. You might incur more cost in the long run if you decide to compromise on the quality of your doors.
Hollow doors can probably be broken down by a gang of children. There are many affordable options when it comes to steel doors and solid wood doors, although none of them are as cheap as hollow doors. And there is a reason for that. When it comes to security, you get what you pay for. It is far better to invest in good materials that will make your home more secure than to skimp on these and end up diminishing the safety of your home in the process. Replacing your door is a simple task that merely requires you to choose the material of the door. The rest can be left up to the professionals, who will no doubt be on hand to help you out.
Reinforcing the Door Jamb/ Reinforcing the Door Frame
Another simple, yet effective, way for homeowners to strengthen their doors is for them to work on reinforcing their door jambs. A door jamb, not to be confused with a door jammer, is the vertical part of the door frame that holds the door in place. Essentially it is holding up a bulk of the doors weight and allows the door to effectively open and close when all its other components are working properly. In addition to the locks of a door, the door jamb is one of the most important aspects of the door. A door jamb is essentially one of the few things that stands is preventing your home from being breached by a well placed front kick.
When your door is securely placed into the door jamb it is made much stronger. Reinforcing the way the door jamb connects to the door serves to improve the connection and make it harder to separate the two. A good way of doing this is by adding additional connecting material to the door jamb. This could be a strip of metal or wood that is screwed deeply into the frame of the door. This acts as an additional layer of resistance and minimizes the chances of the door being compromised with methods that employ blunt and direct force.
Securing Door Hinges
The hinges of a door are an essential part of the door that connects the door to the jamb. Most residential doors have hinges that are inward facing, because the door opens up inwards. Most of these standard residential doors can withstand attacks against the hinges of the door because burglars and intruders cannot gain access to them. However, not all doors work in the same fashion. For doors that open outwards, the hinges are usually placed on either the left or right of the doors exterior and this they are easily accessible by whoever is on the outside. If the hinges on your door are compromised, it will be relatively easy for burglars to knock your door of the hinges and gain entry to your home.
The hinges of your door can be secured by using safety studs, corrugated pins, and by using setscrews in your hinges. These are all minor additions to your hinges, which will go a long way to help strengthen your door and keep your family safe. When dealing with door hinges, it is important to be cognisant of the fact that upgrading the hinges is a lot harder to do than some of the methods outlined above. If you are not adept at performing DIY tasks, you might want to consult a professional before you attempt this one. Even if you are adept at home renovations, consider consulting a professional to ensure that you do not end up damaging your door.
The additions are simple and effective but because of how important the hinges are to the door, it is best to make sure that nothing goes awry and that your doors are made as secure as possible.
Maintaining Your Door
This last simple way to strengthen your door will probably sound redundant to some homeowners but it is important. Maintaining your door is one of the best ways to make sure that it’s integrity is not compromised. It is the one thing that ties all the aforementioned ways together. How does one go about maintaining a door? I’m glad you asked. Maintaining your doors simply boils down to taking care of them and making sure that everything is in good working condition. One of the most important aspects of door maintenance is checking that the material for the door has not deteriorated in any way. For homeowners that have wood doors, it is important to check for signs of decay and also important to monitor how your door is holding up against nature over time. For steel doors, it is important to conduct visual inspections to see if there are any signs of wear or tear that need to be fixed, patched up, or repainted.
Making sure that the material of the door is well maintained is one simple task that many people overlook. Proper upkeep and maintenance is essential to making sure that all components of your door are working well together and essentially strengthening your door.
As we have said several times, there are many options available to homeowners when it comes to effectively strengthening their doors. Your door is an integral part of your home security. If not it’s backbone, and as such, you need to make sure that it is always functioning the way it should. Remember that the beauty of your door and its cost should all be secondary to the protection it provides. You want to make sure that you and your family are as secure as possible, and one of the best ways to ensure this is by making sure that your door is as strong as can be.