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Security Hacks

3 Secure Ways to Lock Your Garage Door From the Outside

Updated on
A garage door attached to a house

There are many situations where you may need to lock your garage door manually from the outside.

Whether you own an electric garage door (such as a sectional garage door) or a non-automatic one, you can install a physical lock in just a few steps.

In fact, there’s more than one way to lock your garage door from the outside. In this article, I’ll show you the most popular (and secure) solutions.

1. Install a Slide Lock

There are basically two main types of slide locks (also known as slide bolts or latches): one that can be attached to a T-handle and comes with levers, and one with only a sliding bolt without any lever.

If you want to lock the garage door from the outside, you’ll need the first one (such as this one). That will allow you to operate the lock from the outside.

Here’s what it looks like:

Ideal Security Garage Door Side Lock with Spring-Loaded Bolt

The slide lock consists of three main parts:

  1. deadbolt
  2. release lever,
  3. and the diagonal operating lever

It should be mounted on the inside part of the garage door so that the extended bolt passes through the rail. This is how it will prevent the door from rolling up.

Besides the slide lock itself, you’ll need a T-handle (or L-handle) that is usually sold separately otherwise you won’t be able to lock the garage door from the outside. If you want to both lock and unlock the door from the outside, you’ll also have to install a lock cylinder.

Pro Tip: If you have the budget you can get a system with an automatic slide lock that is synced with your garage door opener. This way you never forget to unlock the slide lock before using the door opener.

To sum up, to be able to lock and unlock the garage door from the outside, you’ll need:

  • a slide lock
  • a handle that goes into the square hole on the body of the slide lock
  • a cylinder that will allow you to unlock the door from the outside

I recommend that you get a lock kit instead of buying the parts separately.

The main disadvantage of a slide lock is that you can’t install it without drilling holes into the garage door. If you don’t want to do that, check out the third solution (that will allow you to improve garage door security without touching the door itself).

FYI – Once locked, this lock can’t be unlocked from the inside (only from the outside), therefore if your garage door serves as an emergency exit, never lock it from the inside.

Important: Keep in mind that if you use an additional physical lock on a garage door that can be opened with an electronic door opener, you should always make sure to unlock the physical lock before using the door opener to avoid damage.

2. Add an External Heavy-Duty Garage Door Lock

This is my favorite method to lock a garage door from the outside. Although there are many different approaches when it comes to securing the door with an external lock, fixing it to the ground is probably the most effective one.

You can achieve great results in many creative ways, but if you prefer a ready-to-use solution, just get a lock kit, such as this one, rather than trying to use separate products.

Photo showing parts of an external garage door lockPin

Overall, you need to anchor a base plate to the ground and mount the other part of the lock on the garage door. When you want to secure the door all you have to do is fix these two parts together with a padlock. As you can see in the photo above, it’s rather simple.

The main benefit of this method, besides being pretty secure, is that it can be used to lock most types of garage doors, including sectional, roll-up, and up and over ones.

3. Use a Door Defender to Secure Your Garage From the Outside

A garage door defender (aka stop bar) is a pretty simple device that secures your garage door from the outside.

How does it work?

It consists of two main parts: the steel base plate and the door lock itself. To make it work, first, you have to fix the base plate to the ground in front of the garage door (on the outside) using the included bolts.

After bolting down the base plate, you have to secure the defender on top of it with a padlock to lock the door. I suggest that you opt for a model that comes with a padlock so you don’t have to buy one separately.

Photo showing parts of a garage door defenderPin

The obvious advantage of a garage door defender over other types of lock is that it is surface mounted, so you don’t have to drill holes into your garage door (it basically remains untouched). Therefore if you decide to remove it later, it’s much easier to do so.

Another benefit is that it also serves as a great visual deterrent.

FYI – Garage door defenders only work on up and over garage doors (and on some outward opening hinged doors). So you can’t use it to secure a sectional garage door.

While it’s true that a door defender will allow thieves to peel the side of the garage door open but that’s pretty time-consuming and makes a lot of noise, so only a really determined burglar will try this.

Thus, if you have an up and over garage door, it’s still one of the best ways to securely lock it from the outside.

As an alternative, you can use a simple latch that can be secured with a padlock. The latch should be mounted on the door so that when it’s extended it goes directly into the ground (keep in mind that it only works with up and over garage doors).

Can You Really Benefit From Adding an External Lock to Your Automatic Garage Door?

In most cases, the answer is clearly yes. Burglars can pretty easily bypass most standard automatic garage doors (unless you successfully deter them).

One of the most popular methods is that they thread a hooked wire through the top of the garage door to gain access to the emergency release cord. With this technique, it’s a matter of seconds to break into a garage (and house).

Although you can use a protective garage shield to prevent the above-mentioned scenario, it’s still reasonable to reinforce the door (both external and internal locks can give you great additional protection).

FYI – If your garage has any windows, do not miss this article where I discuss 5 simple methods you can use to make them burglar-proof.

Keep in mind that if the installed lock is not synced with your door opener, you must always manually open the added lock first (before using the opener) to avoid damage.


As you can see, there are several ways you can lock your garage door manually from the outside. If you own a sectional garage door, you can either install a slide lock or add an external heavy-duty lock.

If you want to avoid any permanent changes to the door and you have an up and over garage door, opt for the third option and use a stop bar.

Whichever method you choose, in most cases, you can be up and running in an hour (usually you’ll need bolts, screws, a power drill, and a hammer). If you’re a complete beginner DIYer or your garage door requires a more complex installation, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for expert help from a professional.

If you want to take home security to the next level, besides reinforcing your garage door, pay special attention to your front door and sliding patio door as well.

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is a home improvement expert, contractor, avid DIYer, and security manager. He is passionate about home repairs, remodeling, and teaching. Read More

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