Knowing how to barricade a door quickly and effectively is an extremely useful skill in many situations.
Whether you want to keep an intruder out of your property or a room, or just prepare for an emergency, you must know some proven strategies for securing virtually any door.
That is exactly what this article is all about.
Important: The first thing you should do in an active shooting incident is to flee the scene if you can do so safely. If that is not an option, your next best bet is usually to hide in a room with a locked or barricaded door.
Best Ways to Barricade an Inward Opening Door
If you must act quickly
The quickest and simplest way to barricade an inward-opening door is to move and pile all the heavy furniture in the room right in front of the door. Think of couches, desks, bookcases, wardrobes, and armchairs.
If you have more time to act, move on and explore other methods to find the one that best suits your needs.
Keep in mind that the very first thing to do is always to lock the door, if possible.
Wedge a Chair Under the Door Handle
One of the quickest ways to barricade a door is by using a chair.
- Grab a chair and place it in front of the door in such a way that its back is facing the door.
- Tilt the chair and wedge the backrest firmly under the handle.
- Try to open the door to make sure the chair is securing the door properly.
Advantages of this method:
- A chair is available in most rooms.
- The whole process takes no more than a few seconds.
- If you implement the method the wrong way, the chair will easily slip out from under the doorknob (this is why you need to double-check the stability).
- Most standard chairs won’t withstand force attacks, such as kicks.
To make it more secure and get the most out of this method, add heavy furniture or a door stop (see the details below).
You can find more methods to lock a door with a chair in this article.
Barricade a Door Using Furniture
A simple yet effective way to block an inward-opening door is to place heavy pieces of furniture in front of it.
When piling heavy objects to barricade a door, always start with the largest and heaviest ones and work your way up to the lighter, smaller ones.
Here are some objects you can use:
As a rule of thumb, the heavier the objects you place in front of the opening, the lower the chance that the intruder will be able to open the door.
Hands down, piling heavy objects is one of the best ways to barricade a door with household items.
Try to pile the objects in such a way that they jam the gap between the door and the opposing wall. A row of furniture like this will make it much harder for an intruder to break through the barricade.
Use a Door Security Bar or a Portable Door Lock Brace
You can also get a security bar or a portable door lock brace that you can use to barricade a door from the inside whenever it’s necessary.
A portable door security bar, also known as a door jammer, basically works the same way a chair does. To secure a door, you need to slide the yoke of the bar under the doorknob while the foot rests on the ground. For maximum effectiveness, make sure the foot has full contact with the floor and it does not slide.
The main advantage of a security bar over a chair is that it’s adjustable and usually sturdier as it’s made of steel.
A door lock brace is a much smaller device than a security bar that you need to slide between the floor and the bottom of the door.
In my experience, in most cases, door lock braces provide less protection than a properly installed security bar, however, you can use both devices at the same time. To be honest, none of these gadgets are as effective as piling furniture the right way (more on their effectiveness here).
Place a Wedge Under the Door
Using a door wedge or a doorstop as a door barricade is a classic way of keeping unauthorized persons outside.
To get the most out of your door wedge make sure that:
- it has a 15-30 degree angle,
- fits tightly under the door,
- and has a non-slip bottom.
The best door wedges are made of rubber (and not plastic), but you can also make your own wedge from cardboard. I often use my DIY cardboard doorstops as an additional layer of security.
The main drawback of door wedges is that they can’t withstand repeated and high-force attacks, thus I don’t recommend using them on their own without any additional protection.
You can find some additional useful information about using a doorstop to prevent entries here.
Add a Portable Door Lock
A portable door lock provides a quick solution to secure inward opening doors. There are several brands on the market, of which Addalock is probably the best known.
It can be used to reinforce bedrooms, hotel and college dorm rooms, or front doors.
Its main advantage is that it requires no drilling and screwing, and can be quickly added to most doors that open inwards.
While it’s a useful security addition, I wouldn’t rely solely on a portable door lock, especially in an emergency.
Install a Door Barricade
Using a door barricade is one of the most secure ways to keep a door closed. Although this method requires some drilling, it’s well worth the invested time and effort.
I’ve had great experiences with the Nightlock door barricade which I suggest you have a look at if you decide to install a security device of this type.
Here’s how it works:
- You have to secure the base plate to the floor. It’s a few minutes of work.
- To block the door, you just need to slide the upper part of the lock into place.
You can use it for entry doors, bedroom doors, and even double doors or French doors.
The main benefit of this device is that once you’ve secured the brace to the floor, you can very quickly and effectively barricade the door.
Unlike many DIY methods, it can withstand great force and discourage an intruder or active shooter from entering the room or house. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to barricade a door without using any furniture.
Best Ways to Barricade an Outward Opening Door
Fasten a Belt Around the Door Closer
If the door you want to barricade has a door closer (a hinge at the top), you can use a belt to prevent it from opening. If you don’t have a belt at hand, you can try another household item, such as a power cord.
To make this work, you have to wrap the belt tightly around the door closer. A loosely tied belt usually won’t do the job.
For the best result use a leather belt and make a knot once you’ve wrapped the belt around the door closer.
Finally, try to open the door to check whether the belt really keeps the door shut.
Tie the Door Handle to a Heavy Piece of Furniture
Find a heavy object in the room (such as a large executive desk) and tie it to the doorknob with a strong rope or cord.
Choose a stable and robust part of the object and use a strong knot. For example, the constrictor knot is simple and secure.
Instead of furniture, you can tie the doorknob to any other fixed point of the room, if there’s any.
To increase security, use a heavy object that is wider than the door and place it in front of the opening in such a way that its ends extend beyond the edges of the door.
The possible weak points of this method are usually the door handle and the cord you use.
Block the Door With Large Objects
You can create a physical barrier by moving all the heavy and large pieces of furniture in front of the door.
Keep in mind that these objects won’t block the door but the opening as now we’re talking bout a door that opens outward. This is why it’s important that you cover the entire opening otherwise the intruder will climb through the barricade.
In most cases, it’s best to start with a large bookshelf that you can stabilize with other pieces of furniture.
Install a Floor Barricade
If you need a professional solution, get a floor barricade. Nightlock, for instance, has two products that are suitable for outward opening doors.
Once installed, it allows you to secure the door in a matter of seconds. What it does is anchor the bottom of the door to the floor. It’s a viable choice for classroom doors and office doors.
A professional classroom door barricade device can be extremely useful in an active shooter event because it allows one to lock and secure the door regardless of the objects available in the room. Of course, prior training on the proper use of the device is strongly suggested.
Keep in mind that before installing any device in public or educational spaces, you must get approval from the Fire Marshall or the relevant authorities. The door barricade device must comply with the local fire code.
All the above-mentioned methods can be used in combination with each other to improve security and make the barricade less penetrable.
How to Barricade a Double Door
Double doors and French doors are often harder to protect than single doors. The quickest way to secure a double door is to tie the handles with a cord or a belt.
If a double door opens inwards, you can block it by placing heavy objects directly in front of it. The heaviest and largest objects should go first. Make sure you block both wings of the double door.
Alternatively, you can use a Nightlock door barricade. It’s a security device that’s not easy to break through but it requires prior installation.