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Security Hacks

11 Best Ways to Improve Front Door Security

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Best ways to improve front door security

One of the most effective ways to make your entire home more burglar-proof is securing your front door. According to statistics, this is the entrance through which most intruders get into a house. Most often, they simply kick it open.

By reinforcing your front door, you can significantly reduce the risk of a successful burglary.

Fortunately, this does not necessarily require time-consuming and tedious work. In fact, often you can easily do the job in 30 minutes or less.

In this article, I’ve collected the best methods that are proven to work and have stood the test of time.

Here are some highly effective ways you can improve your front door security:

  1. Install a heavy-duty, high-quality deadbolt
  2. Upgrade your deadbolt strike plate
  3. Install a keyless door lock
  4. Reinforce your door frame and hinges
  5. Use a strike plate lock
  6. Install a door barricade
  7. Protect door windows with security film or grille
  8. Add a horizontal security bar
  9. Switch to a door with a solid core
  10. Get a video doorbell or a security camera
  11. Install outdoor motion sensor lights

And now let’s dive into the details:

1. Install an ANSI Grade 1 Deadbolt

deadboltPin
  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $30 and up

When it comes to home security, a high-quality deadbolt is a must. A durable deadbolt lock can significantly contribute to preventing forced entries, such as kick-ins, which is a common way to get in through a front door.

What is an ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt?

The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) grading system was developed by the BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) with the purpose of identifying the durability of locksets. The grading system ranges from 1 (highest level of security) to 3.

A Grade 1 deadbolt provides the highest level of residential security: it withstands at least 10 strikes of 75 pounds of force.

I highly recommend that you use at least a Grade 2 deadbolt for any exterior door. However, a Grade 1 model is usually not much more expensive than a Grade 2, so if you’re not on a budget, I would recommend that you opt for the one that offers more protection.

If you don’t know the grading of your actual deadbolt, you can check it on the manufacturer’s website. Note that not all deadbolts have an ANSI grading and if yours is one of those, that’s usually not a good sign.

If you currently use a weak deadbolt lock, replacing it with a more secure model should be your first step to improving your entry door protection.

If you want to further improve front door security, make sure you choose a deadbolt that meets the UL (Underwriter Laboratories) 437 security test. It’s pretty hard to pass, so a deadbolt with a UL 437 certification is a guarantee of quality.

As for me, I’ve had a good experience with the Kwikset 980: it’s an affordable Grade 1 deadbolt that also met the UL 437 pick test. It fits most standard doors, and it’s pretty easy to install.

Learn more about the different types of locks.

2. Upgrade Your Deadbolt Strike Plate

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 5-15 minutes
  • Cost: $5 and up

When a door is closed, the bolt is held by a metal plate, the so-called strike plate. It’s attached to the jamb and there’s a hole in it: when you lock the bolt, it extends into this opening.

Deadbolt strike platePin

The strike plate is an extremely important part of the deadbolt locking system. If you install a good-quality deadbolt that locks into a poorly made (or poorly attached) strike plate, your front door remains vulnerable to force attacks.

Therefore, reinforcing your deadbolt strike plate is a crucial step to making a door more secure.

Let’s see how you can do that easily.

The first option is to replace the original screws of your old strike plate with new ones that are at least 3 inches long. These long screws securely attach the strike plate to the jamb, so there’s a much higher chance that your door will withstand a forced entry attack.

Another option is to replace your old strike plate with a so-called box strike plate. It’s basically a very durable strike plate with a steel cup instead of a simple hole. In this case, the bolt locks into a cup that’s much stronger than a flimsy hole.

A box strike plate is an inexpensive item but it has a great impact on front door security. Make sure you choose a model that comes with long anchor screws.

Did you know that force attacks are one of the most common ways burglars get into a house? We’ve collected everything you should know to secure your door from being kicked in here.

3. Install a Keyless Door Lock

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 25-30 minutes
  • Cost: from $25

If you want to secure your door from the inside, you can choose from many devices, however, only a handful of them will actually make your door more resistant to external attacks.

A keyless door reinforcement lock can be extremely helpful to prevent your front door from being kicked in.

It’s one of my favorite door security devices for several reasons: it’s cheap, easy to install, and simple to use.

All you have to do is screw it to the jamb above your existing deadbolt. So installation is not a big deal and can be done in less than 30 minutes, even if you’re a beginner DIY.

During installation, you’ll need a few tools, such as a drill with bits, and a Phillips screwdriver. If you have a tightly closing door, you may also have to use a chisel to make some place for the mounting plate.

This is the model I tried and worked for me (make sure you check out the step-by-step video installation guide). There are more than a dozen nearly identical models on the market with very similar designs so make sure you invest in an item from a trusted brand.

Keyless door reinforcement lockPin

The manufacturer claims that it can withstand 800 pounds of force, so it provides significant extra security for your door. You can lock and unlock it with a single motion, no keys are required.

This door security device is also ideal to protect apartment doors, as it’s relatively easy to remove without causing too much damage to the jamb.

In case you want to childproof your front door, you can also use it as a safety lock. Just make sure you mount it high enough.

Click here for more ways to secure a door without using a lock.

Tip

You can take security to the next level by applying not one but at least two methods on this list.

Don’t forget that if you have a sliding door, you should secure that one too if you want to prevent break-ins. Burglars love sliding doors with no protection because they’re usually very easy to get through. Click here for the best methods to make them much more secure.

4. Reinforce Your Door Frame and Hinges

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 45-60 minutes
  • Cost: $70 and up

The door jamb and the hinges play an important role in front door security. Reinforcing them is usually not a complicated process, so in most cases, you can do it yourself, without the help of a professional.

hingesPin

Reinforcing the Hinges

The first thing you should do is make sure the screws of the hinges are at least 2 1/2 inches long. This is extremely important. Screws shorter than 1 inch are a serious security threat, so you definitely want to replace them. It’s just a few minutes of work and it costs almost nothing.

Another way you can reinforce the hinges is to install hinge bolts below and above them. Hinge bolts are small metal bolts that sit in a hole in the jamb when the door is closed.

Hinge bolts are especially useful if you have an outward opening entry door. In this case, the hinge pins are accessible to anyone from outside. Therefore crooks can easily remove them and get into your house if you don’t have hinge bolts installed.

Besides making your front door more resistant to kick-ins, hinge bolts also prevent burglars from lifting your door out of its place even if the hinge pins are removed.

As an alternative, you can replace your existing door hinges. Here’s an article about the strongest and most secure hinges.

You’ll find more tips to secure an outswing door here.

Securing the Door Frame

If you want to reinforce the door frame, I recommend that you invest in one of the ready-to-use kits. These sets usually contain metal jamb and hinge shields and also a secure deadbolt strike plate that fits most standard doors.

A durable jamb reinforcement kit significantly improves security by making your front door much more resistant to force attacks. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t protect your door against more sophisticated attacks, such as key picking or bumping (that’s why you should install a secure deadbolt as a first step).

You can choose from many door frame reinforcement sets, however, make sure you opt for a model from a reputable company (this is a really popular and reliable kit).

If you’re more of a visual type, check out the video below:

YouTube video

If you’re an avid DIYer, you can make your own jamb shield instead of buying one (you can find some useful instructions on this website). As a side note, you can find many simple DIY security hacks in this article.

5. Use a Strike Plate Lock Instead of a Standard Door Chain

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 5 minutes
  • Cost: from $20

Door chains are useful security devices that are meant to keep unauthorized persons out even if you open the door slightly. While anyone can benefit from them, they’re especially useful for seniors.

You can find many types of door chains on the market: some of them are more durable than others, however, they all work more or less the same way.

Unfortunately, most standard door chains are weak and can withstand only one or two full-force kicks.

They’re better than no protection at all, however, you can find a much more durable solution for nearly the same price.

A strike plate lock is visually similar to a standard door chain but it provides much better protection against force attacks. It can withstand over 50 kicks and it’s very easy to install: you just have to screw it to the jamb and if you want to secure your front door, all you have to do is put the ring over the doorknob.

Strike plate lockPin

A strike plate lock is a pretty simple device that works on most doors (you can even use it to turn a bedroom into a safe room). What makes it special is that it takes advantage of shearing forces (instead of pulling forces) and this makes a big difference when it comes to durability.

Have a look at this video to get a better idea of how a strike plate lock works:

YouTube video

6. Install a Door Barricade to Secure Your Front Door From the Inside

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cost: $40 and up

Installing a door barricade is another great way to secure your entry door from the inside.

Both portable and permanent door barricades exist, however, I suggest that you go with a permanent one: it’s more durable and it provides a higher level of security.

How does a door barricade make your door much more burglar-proof?

A door barricade consists of two main parts: the base plate and the barrier itself. You have to screw the base plate down to the floor and when you want to lock your door you just have to slide in the barrier with a single motion (you can unlock the door by simply sliding out the barrier).

Door barricades use the strength of the floor so they don’t rely on the durability of the door. This means that even if burglars bypass the deadbolt and other security devices that are attached to the door or the jamb, they can’t get into your home.

Have a look at the video below to get an idea of how durable a door barricade is:

YouTube video

There are many available door barricade models on the market, this one got a ton of positive feedback on Amazon.

7. Protect Door Glass with Security Film or Security Grille

  • Skill: Intermediate
  • Estimated time: 60-75 minutes
  • Cost: from $90

While it’s true that most burglars try to get into a house without making too much noise, sometimes they don’t mind breaking some glass. So if you have a front door with glass, you want to make sure it’s protected in some way.

Basically, you have three options:

  • you can protect the glass with a physical barrier
  • you can install security window film
  • you can switch to laminated (or tempered) glass

Of course, you can also combine these solutions.

In most cases, a durable steel security grille provides a higher level of protection than security window films or tempered glass. However, I know that many people prefer not having grilles on their windows or doors.

On the other hand, switching to laminated or tempered glass is quite expensive. As a side note, many modern doors come with tempered glass out of the box, maybe yours does too.

Therefore, in most cases, security films offer the most budget-friendly and visually pleasing solution. The good news is that most burglars will simply give up trying to break the glass if they realize that it’s reinforced with high-quality security film. When buying, make sure you choose a product from a reliable manufacturer, such as 3M.

If you want to make all your windows burglar-proof, make sure you check out this article about the best methods.

8. Add a Horizontal Door Security Bar

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $90 and up

Installing a horizontal security bar is a highly effective way to add extra security to your door. It’s basically a heavy-duty steel bar that sits on two L-bolts or hinge brackets (depending on the model) screwed into the jamb or the studs near the door frame.

You can easily activate the bar by placing it on the bolts. If you want to open the door, you just have to lift the bar (it weighs only a few pounds). That’s it.

Installation is also very straightforward: all you have to do is screw the two L-bolts or hinge brackets that hold the bar. Before buying, make sure the length of the bar fits the width of your door.

9. Switch to a Door with a Solid Core

  • Skill: Intermediate
  • Estimated time: 2-3 hours
  • Cost: from $600

We’ve already talked a lot about how you can reinforce your door from the outside and inside as well, however, there’s one thing that can make most of your efforts go to waste: a hollow entry door.

Fortunately, completely hollow front doors are pretty uncommon. Although they’re inexpensive, their low price comes at a cost: hollow doors are extremely vulnerable to force attacks, therefore they should be used only as interior doors.

If you have a solid door but it has windows, you don’t have to worry. All you should do is make sure the windows are reinforced in some way. However, if your door is completely hollow, that’s a serious security threat, and I suggest that you replace it with a solid wood door as soon as you can.

10. Install a Security Camera or a Video Doorbell to Deter Burglars

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $30 and up

No burglar wants to be recorded. Cameras (even fake ones) are usually great burglar deterrents. However, installing a security camera or a video doorbell shouldn’t be your first step in improving security: in most cases reinforcing your front door by applying some of the above-mentioned methods will provide better results.

Video surveillance systems can, indeed, prevent intruders from approaching your front door but don’t have illusions: there always will be criminals who simply don’t care. Even so, I think cameras have a lot of advantages and can provide some extra protection. Once you’ve reinforced the entry door, I definitely recommend that you invest in a wired or wireless model.

You can also choose a complex solution, such as Ring’s home security system, which, besides protecting your home from burglars, also helps you prevent fires and water damage.

A video doorbell can be a great solution if you want to monitor what’s happening in front of your entry door interactively. Most models send you a notification to your mobile device if someone approaches the door and they also allow two-way communication.

So you can watch on your mobile what’s going on at your front door and at the same time, you can send unauthorized persons away (even if you’re hundreds of miles away from your home). Both Ring and Nest have some pretty reliable models.

We have compared the different Ring Video Doorbells and Peephole Cam in this article. Make sure you check it out before making a decision!

11. Install Outdoor Motion Sensor Lights

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $25 and up

Burglars don’t like to be in the spotlight. Although more burglaries occur during the daytime (source), you want to keep crooks as far away as possible from your home at night too.

Installing a motion sensor light above your front door is an affordable way to deter burglars. I recommend that you choose a battery or a solar-powered model so that you don’t have to bother with the wiring.

Make sure you install the light at least 10 feet high to prevent burglars from reaching and damaging it easily.

If you have a pet or just want to avoid “false alerts”, opt for a model with adjustable sensitivity.

Deterring criminals is a really effective way of preventing burglaries. There are many powerful methods out there and we’ve collected all the best ones in this article.

Summary

As you can see, you have many options if you want to make your front door more secure. I suggest that you start with a good quality deadbolt and at the same time reinforce the strike plate as well. In case you have a hollow core door, consider replacing it with a solid core one. Don’t forget about the door windows: use a security grille or film to reinforce them.

Install a keyless door lock, a door barricade, a horizontal security bar, or a strike plate lock to reinforce your door from the inside. You can enjoy the advantages of these security devices even if you’re not at home by leaving the house through the garage.

A security camera (or video doorbell) and a motion sensor light will help you deter burglars before they even try to get into the house. However, keep in mind that if you really want to improve security, you should start by reinforcing your front door.

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is an avid DIYer, former healthcare professional, and security manager. He is passionate about home improvement and teaching. Read More

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