7 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Front Door Security

The front door to your house is one of the most common entry points for intruders.

You would think that they would try to sneak in through a window or go around back, and sometimes they do, one of the easiest entrances to quickly get in and out of is the front door.  That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the front door to your house is impenetrable.

But you already have a deadbolt lock on the front door.  That’s great.  But unless you take a few other steps your door will actually still be really easy to get through.

These are some of the most common issues with front doors that make them less secure than you think and some of the easiest and most effective ways to secure them.

The Door Knob and Deadbolt Don’t Go Far Enough Into The Door Frame

In most cases, the closing latch on your door knob and the deadbolt lock, if you have one, only go between 1/2 and 1 inch into the door frame.  And the wood on a typical door frame just isn’t that sturdy.  There is a metal plate on your door frame that the lock goes into.  But in almost every case, that metal plate is attached to the door frame with 3/4 inch screws.  Which means that the plate is also only attached to that thin wooden door frame.

This makes a lot of front doors really easy to kick in.  Just take a look at the picture and see how that wood just split.

So what can you do about it?

  • The easiest and cheapest solution is to replace the screws in those metal plates.  Take the short screws out one at a time, and replace them with 3 inch long screws.  These longer screws will go all they way through the studs that frame in your door, making it much harder to kick in.  That will definitely help.
  • If you really want to make it secure, consider adding a a longer metal plate like this one from Prime Line Products or this even beefier one from Door Jamb Pro.  The Door Jamb Pro one is 4 ft tall and has places for 9 3-inch long screws.  Someone can kick all day and they’re not going to break through that.

Your Door Hinges Are Just as Weak

The problem we identified with the deadbolt lock also applies to the hinges.  Fortunately, for exterior doors and even some interior doors, companies are starting to use at least 1 longer screw when they install the hinges, especially on exterior doors.  But a lot of the screws used are still those 3/4 inch ones and they just aren’t that sturdy.  In fact, people often have problems with those screws just falling out over time as they use their door.

So what do you do?

  • This answer may seem pretty obvious after that first section.  There’s no particular product that I’m going to recommend.  Just replace the screws in both the door and the door frame with 3-inch long screws.  That will secure the hinges firmly into the studs framing in the door, as well as into the door itself.  Assuming, of course, that it’s a solid core door.  Which brings me to my next point.

The Door Itself is Weak

Most exterior doors for homes are built pretty sturdy these days.  But certainly not all.  If your door is hollow inside, even if the shell is made of metal, it may be pretty easy to actually break through.  So here’s my next recommendation.

  • Make sure that your exterior doors are completely solid.  By that I mean that they aren’t hollow at all inside.  A solid wood door will hold up far better when being kicked in than any hollow core door.  The only way through will be an axe, which is a good thing if a firefighter needs to break in and save your life.  But there aren’t many intruders out there that will be willing to make such a scene by chopping up your front door with an axe.

Another problem with front doors is that a lot of them have decorative windows.  That’s nice and all, but it’s far less secure than a solid door with no windows.  Don’t get me wrong, those doors look great, and the glass they use is really strong.  So having a window in your door isn’t the end of the world.  But if you want to make your door impenetrable, I suggest going with a solid one.

They Can Pick a Lock or Use a Bump Key

So now you’ve made your door impervious to blunt forces.  Nobody is kicking that thing in.  But what if they can just unlock it?

With a lock pick or a bump key, some intruders can simply unlock your front door and walk right in.  No amount of screws or plates are going to keep that door shut at that point.  So what can you do?  Well, I have a few great options for you to consider.

  • Add a lock that can only be opened from inside. There are a lot of options here.  You can add a 1-sided deadbolt that doesn’t have a keyhole on the outside.  This can only be locked and unlocked from the inside.  These can be tough to install yourself because you have to bore out the holes though.  You can go with a chain or latch.  But I really like this 3-inch door reinforcement lock by Prime Line Products.  It’s easy to install and gives you quite a bit of added security, being a lock that you can only open from inside.
  • Add a permanent barricade, again that can only be removed from inside.  Nightlock makes a couple of products that I really like.  One, because they won’t let the door open if it gets unlocked, and two because they physically hold the door shut, which gives added strength against someone trying to kick in your door.  The first is a barricade that can work for both single and double doors.  The barricade itself slides in and out of a plate that you screw down to the floor. The second one actually has a plate that screws onto the door and another that screws onto the floor.  The barricade easily slides out so it can be removed during the day when you’ll be using the door.
  • The third option is to just use a temporary or portable barricade.  There are a couple products that I like.  The first is the Masterlock Security Bar.  It can be used to secure sliding doors, but also works great to barricade a swinging door.  You just place one end on the ground and the other end beneath the door handle. The other product that I really like is the DoorJammer Portable Lock.  It slides under the door and effectively wedges it shut.  What I love most about this one is how portable it is.  Take it with you on business trips and no matter where you stay, the door to your room isn’t getting open from the outside.

So what about everyday use?  You want to be able to use your front door right?

Of course you do.  I don’t suggest that these block your doors all day every day.  I would place these at night and when you leave the house.  If you feel like you’re in an unsafe area or you’re particularly vulnerable, then keep them in during the day too.

What about when you need to leave the house?  How do you get out, place these, and then how would you get back in?

It’s quite simple, I suggest that you don’t use the front door of your house for your primary exit.  If you can, I would try to exit through the garage.  If you take the appropriate steps, your garage can be a difficult entry point for intruders already, but a really easy entry point for you.

Putting It All Together

I don’t want you to be paranoid and think that if you don’t do these things, you’re going to get robbed, or worse.  My intent here is to show you many ways that you can make your front door much more secure.

These steps will be really effective in keeping burglars out.  And even more importantly, they will be really effective in helping keep out those who may wish you harm.  If you’re concerned that someone in particular may wish you harm, then don’t wait.  Take the appropriate steps to secure your home.  It could save your life.

Ricky Kesler

Ricky Kesler has been an avid DIYer for years. Recently he's really taken to home security, but he has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects from Plumbing to Electrical and Framing to Tiling.

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