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Best Ways to (Really) Improve Sliding Door Security

by | Aug 5, 2019 | Security Hacks

Sliding doors are usually one of the weakest points of a house. It’s not a big deal to bypass the standard lock on them, even beginner burglars can easily do it. If you want to improve home security, reinforcing your sliding door should definitely be one of the first tasks on your list. (As a side note, we’ve collected some simple DIY home security hacks in this article.)

Check out this video to have an idea what I’m talking about (the interesting part starts after the first minute):

It took less than 30 seconds for that guy to bypass the lock and get into the house. Fortunately, there are quite a few reliable methods you can use to secure your sliding patio door. In this article, I’ll show you the most effective ones that will help you to take home security to the next level. Let’s get started!

Burglars can get into a house through a sliding glass door in three main ways:

  • Exploiting the vulnerabilities of the lock.
  • Breaking the glass.
  • Lifting the door out of its track.

Bypassing the lock is probably the most common way crooks get through a sliding door, so it’s a good idea to start by fixing that issue.

1. Use a Security Bar

You can easily and effectively reinforce a sliding patio door with a security bar. It’s a simple device (similar to a dowel but easily adjustable) that won’t let the door slide open even if the lock is broken.

There are security bars that require no installation. Master Lock is a good example. It works without having to drill any holes in the jamb or wall. All you have to do is place the security bar into the track of the sliding door (don’t forget to remove the top piece) then adjust its length and you’re done. If you like simplicity and want to avoid any drilling and screwing I recommend you check out the Master Lock Security Door Bar (find it on Amazon here).

Another highly effective option is Ideal Security Patio Door Security Bar. Installation is only a few minutes of work. You just have to fix one end of the security bar to the door jamb and a steel saddle bracket (that will hold the other end of the bar) to the back end of the sliding panel. Altogether you will have to use five screws to install the device.

One of its major benefits is that it can’t be removed by shaking the door since it’s screwed into the jamb and the panel. This feature provides an advantage over pressure mounted security bars. I also like that it allows me to partially open the door for ventilation without having to worry about security. Another plus is that it’s childproof. If you don’t mind a little DIY, I definitely recommend you get this model.

Check current pricing on Amazon here.

If you’re on a budget but still want to improve sliding door security, you can use a simple dowel instead of a security bar. Usually, a wood dowel is your best bet because it’s more durable than a plastic one but still easy to cut to size. To secure your patio door all you have to do is to place the dowel into the track between the door jamb and the sliding panel. If you cut it to the right size, it can be nearly as effective as pressure mounted security bars.

Did you know that most burglars use the front door to get into a house? You can find all the best methods to make yours burglar-proof in this article. Make sure you check it out!

2. Install a Security Barricade

Installing security bars (especially if you use the screwed ones) is a reliable way to improve sliding door security but what if you want to secure your patio door in a less obtrusive way? This where security barricades come in.

They’re quite small and discrete devices that can be installed within a few minutes. Note that security barricades work only on patio sliding doors that operate on the interior side of the fixed panel.

Nightlock Patio Sliding Door Barricade is a patented product sold at an affordable price. You can find some really convincing reviews on Amazon (check them out here). It’s made of solid, extruded aluminum and can be mounted on most types of floor (including concrete, ceramic tile, and marble). It consists of two pieces: you have to anchor the base to the floor and when you want to secure your sliding door you just have to slide in the barrier itself with a single motion. The Nightlock barricade uses the strength of the floor so it provides reliable protection.

Keep in mind that door barricades are installed on the floor so you’ll have to bend each time you want to activate or deactivate them. This might be a concern for those who suffer from severe back pain or mobility issues.

3. Secure Your Sliding Door with an Armor Latch

It’s one of my favorite methods to burglar-proof a patio door because it’s so convenient to use and also because it’s an unobtrusive solution. An Armor Latch is pretty easy to install, it consists of a fixed piece and another one that screws onto the door. You can install the device at a height that is comfortable for you. If you want to secure your door, you can do it with a single motion. There’s no need to use any key.

I really like that the Armor Latch sliding door deadbolt besides securely locking the door, it also prevents burglars from lifting the sliding door out of its track (similarly to a hinge bolt in the case of a front door). So you can kill two birds with one stone. The same can’t be said about the previously mentioned security solutions. This security device usually costs a few bucks more than the other solutions out there but I still think it’s reasonably priced for what it does (check out the current price on Amazon here).

4. Add a Security Window Film to Your Sliding Door

As we’ve previously discussed, sliding glass doors have several weak points. Although burglars usually don’t prefer breaking glass to get into a house because that makes a lot of noise, sometimes they do it. Unfortunately, you can’t reinforce the glass panel of your sliding door with latches, barricades or security bars. You can switch to safety glass, such as laminated glass, that’s very hard to break through but it would be a pretty costly solution.

A more budget-friendly option would be to add a security window film to the glass. It works by preventing the glass from shattering and holds the broken parts together. A good-quality and thick enough security film can make it really exhausting and hard to break through the glass panel. In the vast majority of the cases, crooks will simply give up before they get into the house (or they get noticed).

It’s important to note that not all window security films are created equal. Avoid poor quality ones because those will simply give you a false sense of security. 3M products are usually pretty reliable and widely available. Installation can be a little tricky and if you don’t have any experience, it might not be the best idea to do it without any professional help (it’s not easy to do it yourself so you will probably need an assistant anyway).

Many people forget that windows are often as easy to bypass as sliding doors. In this article, we’ve collected our best tips on how you can improve window security effectively.

5. Improve Privacy

Sliding door privacy

I really enjoy having a sliding glass door because it lets so much light into the living room. However, at the same time, they provide a great view for anyone into the house. Burglars can easily look in through a sliding glass door and see all the stuff inside, including TV, smartphones, antique items, and other valuables. Unfortunately, that often can be very inviting.

By improving privacy, you can easily prevent burglars from seeing inside your home. There are many types of window covering you can use: blinds, draperies, shades, verticals, etc. If you’re on a budget, you can put a privacy window film on your sliding glass door, such as this non-adhesive one.

6. Install a Door Alarm and a Glass Break Sensor

This one shouldn’t be your first step to improve sliding door security, however, it can be a useful addition if you’ve already reinforced the door itself. There are many models on the market but if you want to get one on the cheap, a magnetic door alarm and a simple peel and stick glass break sensor can be one of your best bets. Of course, if you have a home alarm system, you’ll be fine without this step.

A magnetic door alarm is a simple device powered by batteries (so no need for wiring) that consists of two pieces: a magnet and a sensor. You have to install them in a way so that when someone opens the sliding door, the two pieces are getting farther apart that activates the alarm. It’s a great and inexpensive (check out the current price on Amazon here) burglar deterrent. I think it’s worth considering getting one because installation is pretty straightforward and it adds another layer of security to your patio door.

A glass break sensor comes in handy when intruders want to break through the glass panel of the door without opening it (so the door alarm won’t be activated). It’s inexpensive, runs on batteries and it’s very easy to install: you just have to peel and stick it to the glass. It detects vibration and if that exceeds the threshold limit the alarm gets activated. If you don’t have a security film installed, using a glass break alarm can help you keep the bad guys out because it also works as a deterrent (there’s a warning sticker on the back of it).

Prevention has a huge role in making your home more secure. Check out our article on how you can successfully deter burglars on the cheap.

In Summary

Securing your sliding door is a very important element of home security. It’s usually quite easy to break through a standard sliding glass door and burglars have several possibilities if they want to get into your home: bypassing the lock, lifting the door out of its track or breaking the glass. The good news is that you can prepare for each scenario by installing the right security device without breaking the bank.

We’ve discussed quite a few methods to reinforce your patio door and they’re all very effective against criminals. That’s why they’re on this list. Usually, you’ll get the best result if you use two or three of them in combination with each other.

If you decide to install only one security device, I suggest that you choose the Armor Latch. Here’s why: it’s a durable device that besides securely locking your door, it also prevents attacks aimed at lifting the sliding door out of its track. It’s usually more than enough for crooks to give up trying and take to their heels.

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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.

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