Upgrade Your Home Security By Starting With The Front Door

If you're ready to review your home's security to determine how to make it safer, begin with your front door is. A burglar will often try the front door first to gain access to your house. If it appears formidable, they may pass your house by and go to the next one down the street. Here is how to evaluate the effectiveness of your front door and the changes you can make to upgrade your home's security.

Start With the Deadbolt

Central to your door's effectiveness at preventing a break-in is the deadbolt. The type of lock, its quality, and how it is installed are all factors that contribute to how well it protects your home.

The lock should be of solid steel construction and not created by a casting process. Casting weakens the metal and can make the lock vulnerable to shattering by a blow from a hammer or pry bar. If replacing your deadbolt with a stronger version, have the locksmith show you their ANSI Grade 1 locks. These resist being shattered and the hardened steel bolt is very difficult to cut through. Click here for info on different kinds of brands for secure locks.

You can match the condition of your front door and frame with the following lock styles:

  • Single deadbolt - This is the typical style found in many homes, including in new home construction. This lock mounts inside of the door. The bolt extends out from the side of the door into the door frame. A cylinder passes through the door and uses a knob on the inside and a key on the outside to move the bolt. To be safe, the bolt needs to extend at least an inch into the frame. Less than that, and the burglar may be able to pry the door away from the frame enough to make the bolt clear the frame. The bolt is also vulnerable to being cut if the door can be pried open enough for the burglar to get a hacksaw onto the bolt.
  • External mounted deadbolt - Also called a "jimmy proof" lock, these were designed to prevent prying the door open enough to get to the bolt. Part of the lock mounts on the surface of the door with a second part mounting on the wall next to the door. A large steel bolt extends out from the door component into the wall component. A key and knob are also used to activate this lock.
  • Vertical deadbolt - This is a refinement of the external mounted lock. The steel bolt travels vertically into a series of rings on the wall-mounted component. This completely conceals the bolt so no amount of prying on the door will give the burglar access to the bolt.

Evaluate the Deadbolt Installation

The way a deadbolt is installed affects its security. Regardless of the type of deadbolt you have, make sure it is mounted to give you maximum safety.

  • Strike plate - This is the rectangular metal plate mounted on the door frame through which the steel bolt passes. The standard strike plate allows the bolt to travel through it into the wooden frame. If the wood on the door frame is weak, a burglar may be able to force the door open by pushing the bolt through the lightweight strike plate and frame. A more secure solution is to upgrade the strike plate with one that uses a metal box at the opening to contain the steel bolt. The bolt slips into this metal box and resists being forced through the frame.
  • Mounting screws - Even the way the strike plate is installed affects your home's security. Use extra long hardened steel wood screws with wide threads to secure the strike plate to the frame. This makes the strike plate resistant to being pried away from the door frame.