When most of us think of home security, a secure door that can’t be kicked in is one of the first things that pops up in our heads. And with good reason – most break-ins occur by way of the front door, back door, as well as first-floor windows.
While many breaks-in occur by simply turning the open doorknob and waltzing right in, another common way is by kicking in the door. Most typical ‘landlord special’ cheapo deadbolts won’t withstand more than a couple of kicks before giving way – so they’re actually more of a deterrent than a legitimate physical barrier.
Not to worry though, if you’re looking to beef up your home’s security one of the cheapest and most effective things you can do is reinforce your front, back, and side doors.
I’ll break down some of the best methods on how to secure a door from being kicked in, so you can rest easy knowing your home and valuables are well protected.
Securing a Door from Being Kicked In – Guide
There are many ways you can secure a door from being kicked in – with most of them being fairly simple and only requiring basic tools and DIY know-how. Most are also fairly inexpensive, so you’ll be able to seriously beef up your home security for far less than the cost of a home security system.
1. Replace the Strike Plate
The first, and probably the simplest thing you can do to make your door more kick-proof is to replace the strike plate that’s already installed. The strike plate is the small flat metal component that houses the deadbolt’s steel throw.
Most standard strike plates that come bundled with deadbolts are fairly small and have just two screws holding them in place. This is the weakest spot on a standard exterior door setup and will fail far before the deadbolt itself.
The issue with this is that a strong kick or two will actually pull these mounting screws loose from the frame – rendering your lock useless. To prevent this, you can replace the small strike plate already mounted to the doorframe with a longer one with multiple screw holes to mount it on the door jamb.
Also, look out for strike plates with a steel liner that extends into the doorjamb. This provides a rock-solid housing for the deadbolt throw to slide into rather than the typical cutout in the wooden door frame.
Check out the Door Armor Mini for an inexpensive and effective way to beef up your strike plate.
When installing your new strike plate, make sure to use wood screws that are 2 ½” long or longer. Longer screws will pass through the door jamb and screw into the studs behind them, reinforcing the strike plate significantly.
2. Replace Existing Screws with Longer Ones
In addition to replacing the screws in your strike plate, be sure to take a look at the screws holding the door’s hinges in place.
You’ll often be surprised by how small and flimsy these screws are which doesn’t bode well for your door holding up to a series of powerful kicks. Replace these screws with screws that are at least 2 ½” long, which will keep your hinges from giving way under force.
3. Replace the Deadbolt with a Grade 1
Now’s a good time to take a closer look at your existing deadbolt and check the ANSI security classification. Deadbolt’s come in three different levels of security rating – Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3.Grade 3 deadbolts are the least secure, offering only enough resistance to withstand 2 door strikes before giving way. This is not enough to stop a determined burglar, so upgrading to a much sturdier grade 1 deadbolt makes sense.
Grade 1 deadbolts are significantly more durable and can withstand 10 strikes of 75 pounds of force. They can also act as a deterrent to some degree – as thieves may recognize them and move on to an easier target.
4. Secure the Hinges
If you’re open to the outside rather than the inside, you’ll need to make sure the door hinges are secured and can’t be tampered with. If the hinges are exposed, then a potential burglar can simply remove the hinge pin from each hinge with a screwdriver and slide the door right open!
Luckily, there is a fairly simple solution to this issue. Door hinge security screws are special screws you install directly into the screw hole holding the door hinge in place. These screws will keep the hinges engaged and together even when the hinge pins are removed.
5. Reinforce the Glass
Many front doors feature glass incorporated into the design for aesthetic purposes, which can look great but can also be a potential weak spot for thieves. A thief can simply smash the glass plane with a prybar, hammer, or brick, then reach inside and unlock the deadbolt manually.
If your door has glass panes within arm’s reach of the deadbolt and doorknob, then you’ll want to reinforce your door to prevent break-ins. One way to accomplish this is by installing a metal safety grille over the entire windowpane.
This will protect your window from being smashed and used as an entry point, but the downside is these safety grilles aren’t exactly pretty.
Another option is adding security film to the glass pane. This film works to hold the glass together after it’s broken, making it very time-consuming and dangerous for a thief to get through. You can also find security films with various levels of tint so you can prevent anyone from peeking through.
Another option is swapping out your standard deadbolt with a double cylinder deadlift. These deadbolts require a key to lock/unlock from both the exterior and interior. That means that even if a thief were to smash the glass pane and reach in to access the deadbolt, they wouldn’t be able to unlock it without the key.
The downside to these locks is that if you don’t have your key on you, you won’t be able to unlock the door in an emergency. Another issue is if you leave the key inside the deadbolt on the interior a thief can still break the glass and undo the lock.
6. Consider a Door Barricade/Security Bar
There are other things you can do to secure a door from being kicked in other than installing better strike plates, deadbolts, and hinges.
Door security bars are basically heavy-duty metal bars placed underneath the interior doorknob. They’re held in place with pressure and are one of the strongest and toughest methods of securing a door from intruders.
These bares are perfect for apartment dwellers or short-term vacation rentals, as they don’t require any hardware to install and are instead held in places by pressure. They’re sort of like a beefed-up version of jamming a chair underneath the doorknob to slow down an intruder.
These bars are excellent for double entry doors, which are notoriously weak and easy to kick in. Also, keep in mind you can only activate these locks from the inside, so you can’t lock them behind you when you leave your place.
Another fantastic option is the Nightlock door barricade. This is an ingenious little metal brace that screws into the floor at the base of the door. When engaged it will prevent an intruder from kicking down your door, and provides a far stronger barrier than a standard deadbolt setup.
The barricade uses the strength of your floor to secure the door, which is far stronger and more durable than the door frame or door jamb. Once again, this barricade can only be secured from the inside, so you won’t be able to close it after when you leave.
Of course, you can still install and use it on some of your doors upon leaving, just not the ones that you leave through.
7. Consider a Smart Lock
A smart lock solves a lot of issues homeowners have when it comes to door security. If you’re like me, you’re constantly forgetting whether you remember to lock your front door after leaving the house, and have to get a friend or family member to check.
Smart locks enable you to check the status of your lock remotely, as well as lock and unlock it using your smartphone. You can also set it to lock itself after being unlocked for a specific period of time, so you’ll never accidentally leave your door unlocked again.
Smart locks have come a long way in recent years, and many have advanced features like built-in cameras and microphones, so you can view what’s going on outside your door remotely and even ward off potential intruders via the microphone. Another nice feature is that you can see if packages are dropped off at your front doorstep when you’re away.
8. Install a Sturdier Door
This one is a bit more of a complex DIY job, but installing a sturdier door is undoubtedly one of the best ways to secure a door from being kicked in. This is especially true if you’ve got a hollow-core door or a lightweight fiberglass door.
You’ll want to look for solid hardwood doors at a minimum if you’re concerned about security. The next step up would be steel core hardwood doors, and finally all steel doors.
These doors aren’t cheap, especially the steel ones, but they’re practically indestructible without serious tools, so you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your door is rock-solid.
9. Install a Security System
While a security system won’t necessarily secure a door from being kicked down, it will function as both a deterrent as well as set off an alarm when a door is kicked in – scaring off the intruder and alerting the authorities of the break-in.
A security system, along with its accompanying signs and decals, is often enough to scare away a potential burglar on its own. Thieves generally want to break into the easiest targets with the least amount of deterrence, so if they notice your house is armed with a security system they’ll generally move on to greener pastures.
Security systems often feature automatic motion-sensor lights that go off when someone passes by their sensor. This will startle and illuminate the criminal and allow anyone in the area to see that someone is creeping around where they shouldn’t be.
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