We are faced with varying statics relating to burglaries and break-ins almost every year. However, on average, there is a burglary every 15 seconds in the US, which translates to 240 an hour, and 5760 per day. Interestingly, most robberies occur during the day when the homeowner might be at work and entail forcibly entering through the front door.
Consider the fact that when a locksmith can open a door within 30 seconds, without using much force, then criminals can too. Speaking of forcing your way through the door, most front doors can be kicked in and takes just 5 seconds. That’s because builders don’t focus much on reinforcing or securing the front door.
Fortunately, there are six steps or maybe six things you can do to enhance the security of your front door. Not only will it reinforce it, making it near impossible to kick down, but because a reinforced door is a deterrent, your home will probably not get singled out for a burglary.
Step 1 – Lock The Door
We are not simply locking it using any old lock but instead investing in electronic deadbolt locks. Even though this seems like the obvious step, around 30% of homes are accessed by burglars walking through the front door, which was left unlocked by mistake. That’s why even if you have the best locks in the world if they aren’t engaged, the locks aren’t going to protect you.
Now because people forget to lock their front doors, installing an electronic deadbolt makes sense. Electronic deadbolts can auto-lock themselves after they have been left unlocked for a while. That’s why even if you forget to lock the door, the lock will engage itself to secure your front door.
Today, there are many electronic deadbolts to choose from, but you’ll want to invest in the best one possible. Perhaps take a look at a few, and buy one that offers the best security.
Step 2 - Install a Reinforced Door Frame
You might also want to replace the door hinge screws (½ inch) holding the hinges and strike with 3 ½ inch hinge screws. This one step will help to add greater strength to your doors by securing them to the wall studs and not only the trim. As it so happens, this is also the best way to prevent your door from being kicked down. However, it can probably still be broken through with a battering ram.
The ½ inch screws only penetrate the framing of the door. However, the 3″ screws tend to go all through the framing and even into the 2X4 studs behind the framing, which improves the door’s strength.
Every door hinge should be reinforced with at least two screws and reinforce screws on the door’s strike. Fortunately, for those on a budget this upgrade, will cost only a few dollars and can be done by yourself.
Step 3 – Use An Elongated Strike Plate
Now, if you want to reinforce your door further, you can choose to remove the little strike plate on the door’s frame and then replace it with an elongated strike plate. The plate will allow you to add four more 3″ screws to help secure the strike plate in place to the 2×4’s behind the frame instead of the two which your current strike currently takes. This also helps to protect the door from being kicked down by mainly distributing its force to many different points.
Step 4 – Install A Door Reinforcement Kit
Now, if you want to add further strength, consider investing in a door reinforcement kit. The kits come with just about everything you’ll need to install them. The kits come with 3-3.5″ screws, in addition to other materials which will protect your door hinges. Many also have several feet long strikes, ensuring that the force is distributed over a large area, making it more challenging to force the door in, even if a battering ram is used.
Yes, this is the most expensive solution, but it is also the best solution, and for many homeowners, the easiest one since a single purchase buys everything. The kits can range from $300 to $500 or more depending on the brand and what’s offered. Also, you can choose to install the kits yourself or hire a locksmith to do it for you.
Step 5 – Add Strength To The Door's Edge
Once you have reinforced the frame, the next thing you will want to look at and shore up is the door. The weakest part of your door is the section that directly has bolts traveling through it into the door’s frame.
The door’s edge, in most cases, is secured only to the frame via the deadbolt’s bolt and the latch which runs through the door. That’s why there are only two directions for the force to travel and be distributed when the door is either kicked in, or it is battered using a tool. Now because the latch and bolt have a rather small surface area, they don’t do a good job of distributing force, which is why it’s distributed to the two points on the outer edge of the door. Once the door’s frame has been reinforced, the door’s fame; this is where the door may be broken if a forced entry is attempted.
You can use a large, heavy-duty door wrap for a deadbolt and lever. This wrap, as it is called, works by wrapping itself to the edge of the door. The objective here is to create more surface area which distributes force. When force is distributed, the amount of force needed to damage the door has to be greater.
Some door reinforcement kits also include small wraps for the deadbolt and the latch. The larger ones can help by further distributing the force, but the larger they get, the less aesthetic they become.
Step 6 – Install Stronger Door Locks
In our experience, the majority of residential grade door hardware is grade 3. Even though there is nothing wrong with grade 3 hardware because they are cheap, they are often the least strong grade. The locks will often have a host of plastic parts, use cheap materials, and not be resistant to bumping. In fact, these locks are the opposite of what most people want once they know what grade 3 means!
When you choose a deadbolt for your front door, in addition to making sure it is the right style and finish, it should also be secure.
The lowest grade locks are a grade 2, followed by a grade 3, which is slightly better. Most residential locks are a grade 2, and deadbolts are a grade 3 on the low end. Regardless, these should be replaced right away.
You will want to purchase a deadbolt with a 1″ throw. In fact, the longer they are, the better. This alone helps to protect your door from being forced open. Now for anyone who isn’t sure about the grade or protection their locks may provide should contact a locksmith. Most locksmiths should be able to provide the information needed.
Bonus Security Step
One of the things you always want to do is prevent what’s referred to as Lock Bumping. Usually, if you have a grade 3 lock or maybe an older lock one that’s 10 years old, they can often be susceptible to lock bumping. An intruder using a $3 device and connection to the internet can quickly open your lock within seconds.
The best way to protect against this from happening is to use a product called Flip Guard. The device helps to prevent lock bumping, but when it is activated, it also stops anyone that has a working key for the lock.
Final Thoughts on Reinforcing An Entry Door
The best way to prevent anyone from getting into your home is to ensure that the front door is secure against the most common and often the most straightforward attacks. Thieves, for the most part, are lazy, and they are trying to get into your home without being detected. Your home’s security can use these two points to its advantage.
If you have a high-quality door that’s reinforced using quality materials as above, a lazy thief isn’t going to even attempt to kick it down. Not only is it going to physically injure them if they try too hard, but they wouldn’t want to put in the effort. The same goes for if you are using an electronic lock. Furthermore, a lock that prevents bumping defeats the intruder’s use of a cheap item to open your lock; if anything, they will have to be a high-tech thief to try and get in, but for that, your home will have to be worth the effort.
If you are not sure about how to further improve your home’s security, a locksmith, in most cases, can help. Some businesses also specialize in securing homes and businesses; they will audit your current security and provide you with a game plan to harden security further.