Many homeowners spend a substantial amount of money to reinforce the front door of their house while they completely ignore sliding doors.
That’s a huge mistake.
Sliding doors are usually one of the weakest points of many homes, and burglars are well aware of this fact. Unfortunately, the mortise lock that comes with most sliding patio doors usually won’t give you much protection (not to mention those cases where the door has no lock at all).
The good news is that you can easily secure and lock any sliding door without a lock by applying some simple methods. Over the years I tried and tested many strategies, and I must admit that some of them gave me really disappointing results.
At the same time, I discovered a handful of methods that perform really well when it comes to sliding door security. Moreover, they’re affordable and pretty simple to apply.
Let’s see them one by one.
1. Use a Dowel Rod or a Security Bar to Lock Your Sliding Door In Place
Using a dowel rod to lock a sliding glass door without a lock is probably one of the simplest and most affordable methods out there. I suggest you use a dowel made of wood because that provides more solid protection than plastic ones.
To make this work, all you have to do is cut the wooden dowel rod to size and place it in the track of the sliding door. Make sure the length of the dowel is exactly the same as the length of the track (it should fit tightly), otherwise it will easily fall out of place.
Placing the wooden stick into the track will prevent the door from sliding.
The dowel can only be removed from the inside, so anyone who tries to get into your home through the sliding door will have a hard time, even if they bypass the locking system.
If you prefer a more professional solution, you can go and get a security bar (like this one).
There are two ways you can use a door security bar:
- in a vertical position (placing tightly under the doorknob) it will secure most hinged (inward opening) doors
- in a horizontal position (laying it along the track) you can use it to lock your sliding door
The main advantage of this security device over a dowel is that it’s adjustable, so you don’t have to spend time cutting it to size. Also, it’s made of heavy-duty steel, so it’s more sturdy than a wooden rod.
Using a security bar requires no drilling or screwing, so you don’t have to change anything permanently in your home.
As an alternative, you can opt for a fixed horizontal security bar, such as this one. It can be especially useful for those who don’t want to bend each time they need to lock or unlock the sliding door or who have little kids and need a childproof solution.
Another benefit of a fixed security bar is that, unlike a pressure-mounted bar, it won’t fall out of place even when shaking the glass panes. Therefore, I would consider it to be more secure than the previous device. Also, it allows you to lock the sliding glass door in a partially open position (for ventilation).
A fixed horizontal security bar has multiple advantages: it securely stays in place, allows ventilation, and most models are childproof.
The only drawback of this solution is that it requires some drilling and screwing (but that can easily be done even if you’re a beginner DIYer).
2. Install Armor Latch
Armor Latch is my favorite device when it comes to sliding door security. It’s manufactured by Armor Concepts which is a well-known and trusted company, so you can be pretty sure that it won’t sell you some useless crap.
How does it work?
You have to mount the latch on the sliding door (usually above the handle or the original lock if there’s one) and the other piece (that doesn’t move) on the door frame (on the side of the door).
To lock the patio door you just have to press the top and the bottom part of the latch (and pull up and down to unlock it).
Here’s a video that demonstrates what it looks like when installed:
Armor Latch features a dual locking system that will prevent your sliding glass door from opening and being lifted out of its track.
This is an extremely important feature because the vast majority of the time intruders either break the lock or lift the door out of the frame to get into a house. This latch prevents both scenarios.
It’s also a good choice if you need a solution that prevents small children from unlocking the door easily.
It’s secure, easy-to-use, and looks great on the door.
Overall, this latch works like a sliding door deadbolt and it’s a highly effective security device that has stood the test of time. I highly recommend it.
FYI – If you think your entry door also needs some security improvement, I highly recommend you check out Door Armor Max (another great product from Armor Concepts), and this guide where I explain how you can do that effectively.
3. Nightlock Patio Sliding Door Security Lock (Keyless)
If you’re familiar with my older articles about door security, you probably know that I’m a big fan of door barricades. They’re reliable, sturdy, and easy to use, however, most of them are designed to protect hinged doors.
Fortunately, Nightlock has come up with a model that’s designed especially for sliding patio doors.
Like the original door barricade, this one also uses the strength of the floor, so it’s pretty sturdy and can withstand substantial forces.
Installation is quick and easy, all you have to do is mount the base plate on the floor and then slide the lock in place to secure the door.
The Nightlock security door lock works by blocking the inside opening door panel, so when the lock is in place the door cannot be moved.
Its major drawback is that you have to bend each time you need to lock or unlock the door. This can be an issue for those who suffer from some kind of mobility disorder.
Keep in mind that this device won’t work when the sliding door is on the outside track (although it’s not a common configuration).
While this Nightlock door security device is a secure and convenient solution to lock a sliding door without a lock, you can also use it as an extra security layer for doors with an existing mortise lock.
FYI – If you need to lock a hinged door without a lock, make sure you don’t miss these useful tips and tricks.
4. Use a Sliding Door Track Lock (aka Slider Lock)
Track locks (this one is a popular model) are very simple yet highly effective devices to lock most types of sliding doors (or windows) without a lock.
How does this door lock work?
A slider lock is very simple and straightforward to install as it requires no tools. To make it work, all you have to do is place it on the track of the sliding door and use the thumbscrews to mount it securely.
The biggest benefit of these types of door locks is that they allow you to lock your patio door in a ventilating position.
They provide a pretty good level of protection, however, they are not as secure as Armor Latch, Nightlock security lock, or a fixed bar. Therefore, if security is a top priority for you, go for one of those products instead (or combine one of them with a track lock).
Pro Tip: To improve security, mount one slider lock on the upper track and another lock on the lower track of the door.
When choosing a product, make sure it’s wide enough to fit on the track of your sliding door before buying.
As a budget-friendly alternative, you can drill a vertical hole in the track and insert a screw (or another barrier) in the hole that will prevent the door from sliding. This method is not recommended for beginner DIYers, as there’s a chance you damage both the track and the door if you do it the wrong way.
5. Patio Guardian Sliding Door Lock
Using a Patio Guardian Lock is another simple way to lock a sliding glass door without a lock.
Although it requires drilling (so make sure you have a drill and a Phillips screwdriver at hand), installation is quick and uncomplicated: you have to mount one part of the lock on the fixed door panel and the other part on the sliding door panel.
It can be a great choice if you need a device that’s childproof and also allows ventilation without compromising on security. To unlock it, all you have to do is pull the handle down and twist so that it stays in the unlocked position.
Keep in mind that this device will only work if you have the sliding door panel on the inside and the fixed glass pane on the outside.
Wrapping It All Up: Locking a Sliding Door Without a Lock
As you can see, you have several choices to secure your sliding glass door without a lock. Before you make the final decision, it’s worth considering what exactly are your needs and what are the pros and cons of each solution.
While none of the above-mentioned methods cost a fortune, some of them are more affordable than others. If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider using a wooden dowel or a slider lock (or the combination of the two).
If you have little kids and want to prevent them from opening the sliding door, then you definitely need a child-proof solution. In this case, I recommend that you either opt for the Armor Latch or the Patio Guardian Lock.
In case you (or someone you live with) suffer from mobility disorder and bending is an issue, then go for the Armor Latch.
If you need a solution that allows ventilation (so you can lock the sliding door in a slightly open position), you can’t go wrong with a Patio Guardian Lock or a track lock.
Sometimes you may need a solution that you can use in multiple places. If this is the case, opt for a portable lock, such as a security bar or a track lock. Installation doesn’t require any tool, so they are quick and easy to set up, thus perfect for traveling purposes.
If you want to further improve security, just apply more than one method: for instance, you can use a temporary solution (security bar) in combination with a permanent one (Armor Latch). Also, if your sliding door already has a mortise lock (or a keyed lock), a secondary lock will never hurt.
Photos: Flickr (Andersen Windows)