While the front door of your home is used to welcome your guests, hardening your front door security is vital to keeping out unwanted prowlers like burglars.
Most people don’t realize it, but more prowlers gain access to a house through the front door than any other way. We would all like to believe that the lock on our door is enough to keep our home secure, but the truth is that most front doors have security weaknesses that the common criminal can easily take advantage of.
But that no longer needs to be the case for your home. I’m going to share 13 practical ways that you can radically improve the security of your front door. Some of these will require a little effort or investment, but I have also included some easy things that you can do today to make your front door impregnable.
1. Lengthen the Screws of Your Lock and Door Hinges
A common way for a prowler to gain access to a locked door is to kick it open. There is a saying that states that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This is true for both your front door lock and your hinges.
Even if your front door has a deadbolt lock, there is a good chance that the strike plate of your lock was secured using the standard length of screws of between ¾ inch and 1 inch.
The problem with such short screws is that, at best, they bite into the trimming around the door frame, so when someone rams the door near the lock, they easily tear out of the frame, taking the strike plate with them.
The same goes for the door’s hinges. If the screws tear out, there is nothing to hold the hinge to the door and the door can simply be removed.
The good news is that you can easily and quickly fix this problem by replacing your short screws with longer ones. I would recommend 3-inch screws. This will ensure that the strike plate is secured into the stud, rather than the trimming, making it nearly impossible to rip out. In the same way, 3-inch screws will give your hinges an anchor that will make it super strong and secure.
2. Install a Superior Lock
When it comes to locks, not all door locks are created equally.
A standard spring-loaded door lock that isn’t double latched can quite easily be opened in seconds by jamming a screwdriver between the door and frame in line with the lock.
If a spring-loaded door lock is all you have, I would recommend that, at the very least, you install a deadbolt lock like one of the deadbolts from Schlage or one from the Kwikset deadbolt range. These locks are quite easy to install yourself with just a few basic tools.
There are 3 grades of deadbolts, with Grade 3 deadbolts being the cheapest and, also the weakest, while Grade 1 deadbolts are really strong, but often carry a price to match their strength.
To give some perspective, the general ANSI classification is that Grade 3 deadbolts can withstand 2 x 75-pound strikes or 20 hard kicks against your door, while grade 2 deadbolts can withstand 5 x 75-pound strikes or 50 hard kicks against your door. Impressively, grade 1 deadbolts can withstand an impressive 10 x 75-pound strike or 100 hard kicks against your door.
Installing a Grade 3 deadbolt is way better than not installing a deadbolt at all, but if your budget allows it, you’ll want to get the strongest one you can afford.
Here are some examples of various grade deadbolts for price:
(You can click on the image links to verify if these prices are still current)
One vulnerability for deadbolts and many other locks that are opened with a key from the outside is the possibility of it being picked or opened with a bump key. There are 2 options available to prevent this. The first is to install a single-sided deadbolt that can only be locked and unlocked from the inside. The second is to install a flip guard which will prevent the lock mechanism from turning. These 2 options are ideal for when you are home, but they will only really work when you are out if you have an alternative way of exiting your house.
What has to be one of the best locks I’ve come across when it comes to security is the Millennium Lock TUL 3000 Series Ultimate Lock which can be found here on Amazon. This lock boasts to be 30 times stronger than a deadbolt and is able to withstand a force of up to 4,000 pounds, even if you have a wooden door and door frame. This is because the uniquely engineered strike plate bolts to the frame of the door. The lock mechanism also includes anti-bump security pins, so this lock is not going to be picked easily.
3. Upgrade Your Front Door
It goes without saying that using longer screws and superior locks means nothing if your door itself is weak or vulnerable to intruders. While I am sure that almost all newer homes have solid doors, if your front door is hollow, this would be a good time to upgrade it to a solid door. Doors with glass panes are also more vulnerable to break-ins than completely solid doors, which brings me to my next point.
4. Secure Your Glass Panes
From a point of security, a solid front door without glass panes would be best, but if your door does include glass panes, you can prevent an intruder from breaking the glass to access the locks on the inside by adding window security film to the inside of your glass. This film does an amazing job of preventing your window from shattering and effectively keeps it in place, stopping the intruder from getting his hand through it. With enough persistence, the prowler will eventually get through the film, but according to 3M, a manufacturer of this film, it would take him about 2 minutes to get through instead of mere seconds. In all likelihood, he will not hang around that long for fear of being caught. You would also want to use this film on the windows on either side of your door if you have these.
If you’re as skeptical as me, then it may be difficult to imagine that some film can prevent an intruder from breaking through your glass pane. So I thought I would include this video to show it in action.
5. Install a Security Screen
Okay, so security screen doors are not going to be ideally suited for all homes straight out of the box. In some instances, they may require an additional frame to be built. Screen doors like the Titan 36×80 Meshtec Ultimate Security Screen Door are also expensive, but they make for a great additional barrier and so I decided that it was necessary to include it in this list. What I do like about them is that they offer the option of opening your door to a stranger so that you can see and speak to them face-to-face, behind the safety of an aluminum mesh barrier. And on those hot days, you have the luxury of leaving your front door open to allow for the breeze to blow in without worrying about an unwelcome guest entering your home.
6. Add a Flood Light Outside Your Front Door and Other Entrances
You’ve likely heard the saying, “Like a thief in the night”. While break-ins during the daytime are common, thieves often prefer to break into a house after dark when they are less likely to be seen. A well-illuminated front porch is a cost-effective, but effective, deterrent. You could either have a light that burns all night, or you could install a light that comes with a motion detector. This way it will only switch on when there is movement. Not only will this help to save on your electricity bill, but it is also likely to startle the intruder when it turns on.
There are many different options available. Too many to list here, but you can compare a whole list of them here: motion detector lights for outside – Amazon
7. Install Exterior Security Cameras
A security camera isn’t really a way to prevent a prowler from gaining access to your home, but rather a way to discourage him from attempting to break in. A prowler is more likely to pass up a home with a security camera where he runs the risk of being identified to search for a house that does not have a camera.
In this modern technological era, you can set up security cameras around your property (and inside your home), which run feeds directly to your smartphone. This will alert you when someone is attempting to break into your home, allowing you to react before they find their way in. I personally like the Ring Flood Light security camera. It is the best of both worlds when it comes to lighting and capturing and comes with some amazing features. Setting this up is going to be a job as it needs to be hardwired, but I think it is worth the effort.
If you are looking for something a little simpler and easier to set up, take a look at these wireless outdoor security cameras from Amazon, or consider a video doorbell camera with motion-activated alerts.
8. Protect Your Property With an Alarm
Alarms are a great way to get an intruder to flee the scene and also make you and your neighbors aware of his presence. Alarms that are monitored are obviously better than those that are not, but even an alarm that is not monitored is far better than no alarm at all.
I am a fan of perimeter alarms that sense movement inside a boundary that you choose. If you set up a perimeter alarm just outside your front door or even around your property perimeter, you would know as soon as someone entered that area, well before they attempted to get inside.
Perimeter alarms come in many shapes and sizes with various distances that they can cover, but most will cover your property’s perimeter just fine.
9. Tamper-Proof Hinges Of Doors That Open Out
For the most part, front doors open to the inside, but there is the odd front door that open to the outside. An advantage to a door that opens to the outside, is that it cannot be rammed or kicked in. The disadvantage is that the hinges of the door will be on the outside. This makes it easy for a perpetrator to knock out the hinge pins and remove the door from the hinges.
Fortunately, there is a way to stop this. You can purchase a pair of door hinge security pins. You will need one for each hinge. Remove one of the screws from the frame side of the hinge. Screw the pin into this hole. It will protrude from the hinge. Remove the screw that lines up with this on the door side of the hinge. Now when you close the door the protruding pin will penetrate the hole on the door side of the hinge, locking it in place. Even if the main pin is removed by a perpetrator, he will not be able to remove the door.
Some Interior Security Products To Further Secure Your Front Door
The following 3 ways to improve your front door security are better suited for when you are home, rather than when you are out as they can only be activated or deactivated from inside your house. Of course, if you have direct access to your garage from inside your house, and choose to enter and leave this way, then you can make use of these any time you like.
10. Door Reinforcement Lock
The Defender Security U 10827 Door Reinforcement Lock is quick and easy to install and can withstand an impact of up to 800 pounds. It is a great way to strengthen your door against getting kicked in.
11. Security Bar
The beauty of this is that it requires no fitting whatsoever. You simply ‘jam’ it under your doorknob and that’s it. It is estimated that it can withstand a force of 400 pounds. Going on holiday? Take it with you and use it to secure the front door wherever you are staying. Some of these also offer a 2-in-1 solution. Use it straight up for your swinging door or lie it horizontally between your sliding door and frame to prevent it from opening.
12. Security Barricade
This is another easy-to-install security product, depending on your floor. You secure the plate to the floor just inside your door. The barrier is then simply slid into the plate to secure it. When you want to open the door again, just slide it out of the plate and you are ready to go. My only dislike for this product is that, unlike the door reinforcement lock which does a similar job, you have to store the barrier somewhere while you are not using it. That said, if you have double doors that swing open, then the security barricade is an awesome product to own.
13. Lock Your Door
I know this last point sounds ridiculous, but approximately 35% of intrusions are through an unlocked front door. This brings me to the simplest, but the most understated way to improve your front door security – Lock your door. You can have all the best security systems in place, but if your front door is left unlocked, your home will be vulnerable to a break-in.
Okay, so I know this post covers a lot of security measures, but I don’t want you to be overwhelmed by everything that is listed here. You don’t need to implement everything to be secure.
The aim of this post is to give you a good number of options that you can sift through. Consider your area, budget, and the practicality of the various ways that you can secure your front door, and then implement that which suits your situation best.
And remember, adding just one layer of security that you don’t currently have adds a new layer of protection to your home and loved ones.