French doors are a wonderful and highly sought-after, addition to any home. They transform ordinary entryways into something beautiful and stylish. Double patio doors let natural light into your home and allow you to view the glorious garden outside.
Sadly, these most elegant design features can be the most vulnerable point of entry into your house.
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to secure your French doors.
Why French Doors Are So Difficult To Secure.
There are a few reasons why French doors are hard to secure. They possess a number of weak spots.
Exposed hinges – on outwardly opening patio doors, the hinges are exposed. A burglar can easily take the doors off their hinges by removing the pins.
Muntins – The older wooden French doors have lots of small glass panes held in place by decorative molding called muntins. They are beautiful, but not strong. Newer doors tend to be made of one large piece of glass with the muntins simply being a metal grid placed over the pane. So, while a muntin might look like secure burglar bars, they are in fact, not.
Locks – No matter where you place the lock it will be visible and vulnerable to being unlocked by an intruder breaking through the door and reaching in.
Double doors – These are vulnerable where the two doors join in the middle. This weak spot makes them easy to kick open.
Glass – Glass is the best and most prominent feature of a French door. However, it does allow an unobstructed view into your house allowing potential burglars to get a good look at your goods. Besides this, glass is easy to break, and a door made entirely of glass is an especial security risk.
So now I guess you’re wondering how on earth you can possibly make these types of exterior doors secure.
The Best Ways to Secure Your French Door
Whether you are installing new doors or replacing older ones, you must make sure that the installation of the doors is correct and that they are secure and fitting tightly. If you are installing new glass doors, consider asking a professional – it’s not really a job for DIY-ers. The reason for this is that the doors need to fit snugly against the frame and each other, otherwise the security of the doors will be impacted. When you give the job to a contractor, make sure you furnish him with precise measurements.
Impact Resistant Glass
Make sure your double doors are fitted with impact-resistant glass. This is much stronger than tempered glass and can stand the force of both hurricanes and intruders.
Glass that is treated with security window film is stronger than normal glass. While the pane will still break under impact, the glass won’t shatter and will be kept in a sheet that will make it much harder, and possibly painful, for a burglar to get through. It is also helpful if a storm hits, and a tree branch or other object gets blown against the door.
You can buy glass panes that are pre-treated or if you already have glass installed, you can buy the film and install it yourself. You can get clear or frosted sheets of film, whichever is your preference, and cut the sheet to fit the size of the panes. Pay careful attention to the installation instructions so that you aren’t left with bubbles underneath the film and the view out of the windows is unimpeded and the final look is attractive.
Three-Point (multi-point) Locking System
Because the lock bolt extends into a second door and not the door frame, a multi-point locking system is very important when securing exterior French doors. A three-point lock has metal rods that extend up and into the door frame at the top and into the floor below. Combine this with a deadbolt and the rods make the glass doors much stronger than if you just had the deadbolt on its own.
A mortise lock is a kind of deadbolt lock. Mortise locks are more efficient than normal deadbolt locks because the entire mechanism of the lock is covered by a metal housing.
Double Cylinder Deadbolt
If a normal deadbolt is installed on a French door, it is easy for an intruder to break the glass, reach in and turn the thumb-turn to open the door. A double-cylinder deadbolt needs two keys – one for each side – thus preventing this problem.
Installing security hinges is very important if you have French doors that open outwards. Some examples of security hinges are:
- Screw hinges
- Stud hinges, and
- Hinges having non-removable pins
Securing the Passive Door
In French doors, there is an active and a passive door. The active door secures to the passive door while the passive door secures to the sturdy doorframe by flush bolts. Unfortunately, it’s not too hard to bypass the flush bolts. YouTube can show you lots of ways to unlock French doors! All you need is a screwdriver, hammer, or even a metal coat hanger to open these locks.
To secure your set of French doors you could consider permanently closing the passive door. This is done by driving a screw or other thin rigid item, into the bolts so that they can no longer open. The screw can be removed if needed and both doors opened so this is a reversible solution.
Another safety device for securing patio doors is security bars. A safety bar is a bar made of wood or metal that is laid horizontally across the width of the doors preventing the doors from being opened.
Similar to security bars but lying vertically, these safety devices work best when placed under both handles and secured to the floor thus preventing both doors from being pushed open.
This device slips over the french door handles and secures them together no matter when the handles are levers or knobs. Handle locks stop the handles from being turned.
Security Screen Doors
These security doors are metal (decoratively designed) and installed outside the patio doors. The metal bars give another layer to your French door security. Because they are screened, if your patio doors open inwards, you can open the glass doors while leaving the metal security screen closed, thus allowing in the gentle breezes all the while staying safe and secure.
Home Security System
Often French doors are at the back of a house, usually opening out onto the yard or garden. This means that they are not particularly visible. While this is great for your privacy, it does mean that intruders can take advantage of the private location too, and try to break in. Adding a home security system will add an extra layer of security to your glass doors. You could add CCTV security cameras as a visible deterrent or a beamed alarm system that will sound when triggered. Motion sensor security lights are also a good option for lighting up the yard should anyone step into it.
High-Security French Door Locks
You can buy double-sided deadbolt locks specifically designed for these types of doors. These are installed on the active side of the door. One-side half deadbolts can also be installed at the top and bottom of each French door.
French Door Reinforcement Kit
Reinforcement kits are available to make your double doors more secure. These kits come with all you will need to reinforce the door jam, edge, and hinges. The kit is also kitted out with (yes, pun intended) 3-inch screws and not the usual piddly-sized ½-inch screws.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to have French doors?
French doors are vulnerable due to the use of glass and their double-door design. Rather be safe than sorry and install some type of security reinforcements.
Is it expensive to secure French doors?
Securing a French door is an inexpensive thing to do. Of course, this depends on what security option you choose but if you decide to just secure the passive door with a pin or screw, you’re looking at spending less than a dollar.
If someone breaks the glass, does it matter if I have a double deadbolt lock?
Yes, it does! A double deadbolt lock will stop anyone from forcing the doors open due to the lock having no thumb turn. So even if the glass is broken and the perpetrator reaches in, he still cannot turn the lock and open the door.
French doors don’t need to be the weak point in your home security. There are numerous methods of increasing your door security and keeping your French doors safe. All of them are worth it if they can add that extra layer of security to your home.
Whether it’s by changing up the glass, securing the hinges, or adding new locks, you don’t need to sacrifice the beauty and convenience of having lovely double glass doors as part of your home.
Any one of the above methods can make the doors more secure without taking away from the aesthetics of the entryway.