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Security Hacks

10 Effective Ways to Boost Apartment Door Security

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Best ways to boost apartment door security

Most apartment doors are easy targets for intruders. In fact, sometimes getting into the apartment complex is more complicated than breaking into one of the units.

Fortunately, just by taking a few simple measures, you can dramatically increase your apartment door security and reduce the risk of a possible break-in.

While you can secure your apartment door in many complicated ways, if you’re like me, you prefer hassle-free solutions. That is what this article is all about.

Now let’s see how you can burglar-proof your door easily and effectively.

How can you secure your apartment door? In brief:

  1. Add an extra lock
  2. Switch to an ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt
  3. Replace the deadbolt strike plate
  4. Install hinge bolts
  5. Add sash jammers
  6. Scare off criminals with a door stop alarm
  7. Reinforce your door with a strike plate lock
  8. Install a real or a dummy security camera to discourage burglars
  9. Use a security bar
  10. Install a door barricade

1. Add an Extra Lock to Your Apartment Door

Keyless Door Reinforcement Lock

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

Tools needed:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • drill and 1/8″ drill bit
  • tape measure
  • pencil
  • safety goggles
  • you might also need: a chisel and a hammer

The most obvious way to improve apartment door security is to add an extra lock to your existing one.

While you can choose from many solutions, I recommend you invest in a keyless door reinforcement lock.

Main advantages:

  • installation is newbie-friendly: all you need to do is mount the lock to the jamb using a power drill and the included screws (in the case of a tight-fitting door, you’ll also have to chisel out a small area for the mounting plate)
  • can be locked without using a key in just a second
  • can withstand hundreds of pounds of force
  • resistant to lock picking

Its major drawback is that it’s only suitable for securing apartment doors from the inside.

I had the most success with this inexpensive model, but you can find many similar devices both online and at your local hardware store.

Renter-friendly Door Lock

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 1 minute
  • Cost: $20 and up
  • No tools needed

If you need an extra door lock that doesn’t require drilling and screwing, try Addalock. It’s a portable lock that can be installed in a minute and it provides a reasonable level of additional protection.

However, in my experience, a door reinforcement lock that’s mounted on the jamb is usually sturdier and can withstand greater force.

Related: Lock a door without using a lock

2. Switch to a Grade 1 Deadbolt

Grade-1-deadboltPin
  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: from $30

Tools needed:

  • Phillips and/or flathead screwdrivers
  • tape measure
  • safety goggles

When securing entry doors, existing locks are the most obvious things to check and upgrade. A cheap and unreliable deadbolt sends the message that you don’t care much about security and sooner or later it will call a burglar’s attention to your apartment.

However, a good-quality deadbolt often discourages criminals and can serve as an effective deterrent.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has a reliable grading system that ranges from 1 to 3. If you decide to replace or add an extra deadbolt to your apartment door, make sure you choose a Grade 1 lock that is the most secure category.

If you’re a renter or a beginner DIY, replacing the existing unit will be a much easier task for you than adding an extra deadbolt to your door. However, if you’re somewhat experienced and have the necessary tools (such as a hole saw, spade bit, chisel, and power drill), you can also install a completely new unit.

I recommend you have a look at this deadbolt with Grade 1 certification from Kwikset.

Tip

There’s usually not much difference in price between Grade 2 and Grade 1 deadbolts, so you get much better value for your money if you go for the latter one.

If you prefer smart locks, check out our review about one of the most popular (and affordable) smart deadbolts here.

By installing a secure deadbolt lock, you can significantly reduce the chance of a break-in as most burglars are not willing to take unnecessary risks and break into an apartment with an awful risk-reward ratio.

If you want to know more about the different types of door locks, check out this guide.

3. Replace or Reinforce the Deadbolt Strike Plate

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

Tools needed:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • you might also need: a chisel and a hammer

A deadbolt strike plate is one of the main parts of a deadbolt locking system. It’s a metal plate attached to the door frame that holds the bolt when the door is locked.

When it comes to door security, having a good quality (Grade 1) deadbolt is extremely important, but in itself, it’s not enough: you also want to reinforce the part of the door frame the deadbolt extends into.

This is where strike plates come in: the strength of your apartment door depends on the durability and quality of the strike plate to a large extent.

So, how can you reinforce the strike plate?

One of the simplest and cheapest methods is to replace the existing screws with at least 2 1/2 inches (preferably 3 inches) long durable ones made of steel. For this job, all you need is a Phillips screwdriver. The whole process takes about 5 minutes from start to finish.

The other (and usually better) method is to replace your old strike plate with a more secure model. The main advantage of this approach is that this way you’ll not only get stronger screws but also a much deeper and stronger box which will be more effective in preventing your apartment door from kick-ins.

The best security strike plates come with long anchor screws and with a deep so-called strike-box (it’s a steel cup the bolt locks into).

Keep in mind that if the existing hole in your jamb is not large enough, the strike-box might not fit in. This is when you’ll need to adjust the hole and make more room using a chisel or a hole saw.

To get one you can either visit your local locksmith shop or check out this model on Amazon. It only costs a few bucks.

4. Install Hinge Bolts

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 45 minutes
  • Cost: from $15

Tools needed:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • drill and drill bits
  • chisel
  • hammer
  • pencil
  • tape measure
  • safety goggles

Another way of making your door more resistant to kick-ins is to install hinge bolts. These are small metal bolts that fit into a hole on the door frame. They’re usually installed above and below the hinges.

This is how what it looks like:

Hinge boltPin

Hinge bolts are especially important security additions when you have a door that opens outwards because in that case, burglars can easily access the hinge pins from the outside (you can find a full guide on how to secure exterior door hinges here).

Just like strike plates, hinge bolts are also inexpensive and can greatly enhance apartment door security. Here you can find the complete installation process.

If you want to make your door kick-proof, make sure you also check out our step-by-step guide here for more tips and tricks.

5. Add Sash Jammers

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $15 and up

Tools needed:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • drill and drill bit set
  • jack nuts
  • tape measure
  • pencil

Installing sash jammers is another simple yet effective way of securing your apartment. They’re inexpensive and you can relatively quickly add them to your door. You can mount most models using only two screws.

Sash jammer on doorPin

Usually, it’s recommended to place two sash jammers on the door frame, about four inches from the top and the bottom of the door.

Both key-lockable and keyless models exist on the market, so you can choose according to your needs.

One important thing to note about sash jammers: over time certain models tend to become loose and when it happens they may drop down after you close the door and lock you out. You can prevent this situation by checking the tightness during installation, and replacing the sash jammer when it becomes loose.

6. Door Stop Alarm: Cheap and Easy Solution to Scare Off Intruders

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 1 minute
  • Cost: from $15
  • No tools needed

Door stop alarms are simple devices. They run on batteries and usually have a wedge shape.

They require no real installation: you just have to switch on the alarm and slide it underneath the door. If someone attempts to open the door the alarm sounds. It’s pretty loud so you will hear it even if you’re asleep and most burglars will be deterred.

Besides being inexpensive, a major advantage of a door stop alarm is that it doesn’t require any drilling or screwing to work so you don’t have to make any permanent changes to the apartment. That makes it a perfect choice for renters. Its biggest drawback is that you can only use it when you’re at home.

Related: What are your chances of being burglarized? Are your home at risk? Find the answer and be one step ahead of criminals by knowing some stats they don’t want you to know. We’ve collected all the data you should know in this article

7. Reinforce Your Apartment Door with a Strike Plate Lock

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 5 minutes
  • Cost: $20 and up

Tool needed:

  • screwdriver

A strike plate lock is a simple and very durable security device that dramatically reduces the chance of any intrusion while you’re at home. Moreover, its installation is very easy: you just have to fix it to the door frame using two screws. That’s all.

Adding a strike plate lock is one of the best ways to secure a door from the inside. You will find more tips on how to reinforce a door from the inside here.

A door chain can be an alternative to a strike plate lock. They may seem very similar at first sight, however, there are some really important differences.

A heavy-duty strike plate lock is able to withstand more than 50 full force kicks, while a standard door chain usually breaks after just a few ones.

Also, you can install a strike plate lock easier and faster than a door chain. Regarding the price, there’s not much difference: a strike plate lock usually costs almost the same as a good quality door chain.

Watch the video below to see why a strike plate lock is one of the best solutions if you want to secure your door from being kicked in.

YouTube video

8. Discourage Intruders with a Real or Dummy Security Camera

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 25-45 minutes
  • Cost: from $10

Tools needed:

  • drill
  • screwdriver
  • screws (usually included)
  • for wired security cameras, you’ll need additional tools

None of the criminals like to be recorded and most of them try to avoid apartments with security cameras at all costs. It’s just not worth the risk. Thus there’s a much lower chance of being robbed if your apartment door is secured by a surveillance camera.

Depending on how much money you want to spend, you can choose a real or a dummy security camera. If your sole purpose is to deter intruders then go for a dummy camera. There are some inexpensive models on Amazon that indeed look like real ones.

If you need more than just a visual deterrent, opt for a real security camera. Nowadays you can get a quality device for a pretty affordable price. They usually feature night vision, motion detection, and strobe lights to scare off burglars and work with Alexa and Google Home as well. Many of them are wireless.

If you have the budget, you can also subscribe to a professional monitoring service to further improve your apartment security.

As an alternative, check out Ring’s home security system which offers a cost-effective all-in-one solution to protect your apartment from burglars, fires, and water damage.

A security camera watching your apartment door is a clear message for burglars that they had better search for another victim because you take security seriously.

9. Use a Security Bar

  • Skill: Beginner
  • Estimated time: 1 minute
  • Cost: $20 and up
  • No tools needed

Using a door security bar, also known as a door jammer, is a great inexpensive solution if you want to secure your apartment door from the inside.

It’s a very handy security device for renters as it requires no installation: you just have to place the yoke under the handle and the other end of the security bar on the floor, and you’re done.

Door security bars are adjustable therefore they fit most standard apartment doors. They are usually made of steel, so their durability is not bad either. If intruders try to kick in a door reinforced with a security bar, they will have a much harder time because the bar will absorb most of the force. After a few tries, most burglars will give up and take to their heels. You can find more details on the effectiveness of door jammers here.

If you don’t want to mess with drilling and screwing but want to secure your apartment door from the inside, consider investing in a heavy-duty security bar, like this one. Besides portable door barricades, security bars are one of the best temporary solutions out there.

FYI – If you want to secure an outward opening door, check out this article for the best methods and learn why you should pay close attention to the hinges.

10. Install a Door Barricade to Make Your Apartment Door More Kick-Resistant

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

Tools needed:

  • drill and drill bits
  • screwdriver

Basically, there are two types of door barricades: portable and permanent. Usually, a fixed, permanent barricade gives you better protection against force attacks and kick-ins. However, you can significantly improve apartment door security with a portable barricade too.

One major advantage of door barricades is that they use the strength of the floor instead of the door frame (that’s why they’re great additions to deadbolts).

The installation of a permanent door barricade is quick and easy and can be done on most types of floors: wood, cement, stone, carpeted, and tile. First, you have to screw the base plate down to the floor and then slide in the barrier to lock the door. When you want to open the door you just have to slide out the barrier with a single motion.

A portable door barricade (aka door jammer) comes in handy when you’re not allowed to drill holes in the floor but you want to secure your apartment door from the inside. It’s very easy to use, you just have to slide the base under the door and then adjust the foot at the end of the hinge leg. You can combine it with a security bar for maximum protection.

Long story short, if you want to reinforce your door without damaging it, opt for a door barricade or a security bar (or both).

If you have a UPVC door, check out our article on how you can secure it easily.

You’ll find a collection of 70+ home safety measures in this article. Check it out if you want to take safety to the next level.

Summary

As you can see there are many possibilities to reinforce your apartment door. All the above methods are effective, but that doesn’t mean you have to apply all of them to prevent burglary.

Check your entry door and find the weak points. Does it open outwards? Then start by installing hinge bolts. Is there a cheap deadbolt strike plate without a strike-box? Replace it with a more secure one. And so on. I think you get the point.

If you’re not allowed to make any permanent changes, there are some great temporary solutions on the list. But if you still feel unsafe in the apartment, consider investing in a complex apartment security system or talk to the property owner. Chances are great that you will be allowed to take the necessary permanent security measures. After all, it’s all about your safety.

James Mora author profile photo
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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