An exterior door that opens outward is more vulnerable to force attacks than an inward opening one.
Unfortunately, when it comes to outward opening doors, you have fewer options to improve security compared to doors that open inwards.
The good news is that if you know the weak points, you can secure any outward swinging door (French doors too) pretty fast without much hassle.
In this article, we explore all the best ways you can make your outward opening door much more secure and resistant to forced entry attempts.
1. Secure the Door Hinges
- Skill: Beginner
- Estimated time: 25-30 minutes
- Cost: $20 and up
One of the main reasons why an outward opening door is so vulnerable is the fact that it usually has its hinges on the outside.
Therefore, the hinges are exposed and easily accessible for burglars who can compromise them and remove the entire door in a matter of seconds (all they have to do is remove the hinge pins).
This is something you want to avoid at all costs.
You can have the most secure deadbolt in the world but if the hinges are not protected, your outward swinging door remains extremely vulnerable.
This is why reinforcing the hinges should be your first step to making your door impenetrable to thieves. Fortunately, it’s neither time-consuming nor expensive.
In order to prevent your outward opening exterior door from removing, you want to make sure it has strong and high-security hinges.
These are the most common types of security hinges for outswing doors:
- Non-removable pin hinges (aka fast-riveted hinges). These hinges have pins with flattened (crimped) ends, and the rivets (hence the name) prevent the pin from removing or popping out (this is a durable model).
- Stud hinges. These hinges are similar to standard hinges with the exception that they come with built-in studs. Opposite the studs, you will find holes the studs fit into when the door is closed. Stud hinges will keep the door in place even if the hinge pins are removed.
If you’re on a budget you can add studs to the existing hinges yourself (these are pretty easy to install). This way you don’t have to spend more than a few bucks to secure your outward swinging door.
Here is a helpful video that demonstrates exactly how you can do that:
If you’re not afraid of some DIY, here’s an alternative to the above method:
Modify your existing door hinges by drilling a small hole through the pin and the hinge on the inside part and placing a set screw into the hole. The set screw will keep the pin in place and can only be accessed when the door is open.
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter which method you use to reinforce your insecure hinges until the implementation is done properly. I prefer installing stud hinges because in my experience that is the most difficult to manipulate. But fast-riveted hinges are also an absolutely reasonable choice.
Securing the hinges is an essential step in reinforcing a door that opens outward and I strongly advise against skipping this step. Especially, when dealing with a front door.
You can read more on securing exterior door hinges here.
If you want to reinforce your entry door make sure you also check out our complete guide here.
2. Install a Latch Guard to Prevent Forced Entries
- Skill: Beginner
- Estimated time: 15 minutes
- Cost: from $15
Another common problem with outswing exterior doors is that usually, you will find a gap (sometimes it’s quite wide) between the frame and the door. As a consequence, the bolt (or latch) is exposed and can be accessed easily from the outside.
The larger the gap the worse. Experienced burglars will bypass most types of locking systems if they have access to the bolt or the latch.
There is, however, an easy fix that will solve this problem in most cases.
A latch guard plate is a simple device made of steel that’s designed to prevent criminals from accessing the latch. Basically, all it does is cover the gap between the jamb and the door, and restrict access to the latch from the outside. It’s like a shield that protects the latch to restrict access to the locking system of your outward opening exterior door.
Latch guards come in different sizes and colors, so make sure you choose one that matches your door. You can use them on both front and patio doors (for sliding patio doors check out this guide). Installation can be done within just a few minutes.
I recommend you visit your local hardware store or check out this latch guard on Amazon: besides being durable it’s significantly longer than most other models (that means better protection).
3. Use a Door Lock Barricade Designed for Outward Swinging Doors
- Skill: Beginner
- Estimated time: 30 minutes
- Cost: $60 and up
Door barricades are getting more and more popular for a reason: they’re extremely durable and can withstand immense force. Quality door barricades can successfully prevent forced entries and secure any outward opening door.
Note: Most door barricades are suitable only for inward swinging doors, so before getting one make sure you choose the right model.
The one I use and recommend is the Nightlock door barricade that’s specially designed for doors that open outward (click here to check out the current price), be it a front, patio, or apartment door. By the way, if you’re interested don’t miss our best tips to secure an apartment door.
The device consists of three main parts: the door plate, the floor plate, and the locking handle. Installation is simple and straightforward: you just have to mount the plates on the door and the floor using the screws that come with the barricade. To secure the door, all you have to do is slide the locking handle in its place.
According to the manufacturer, it can withstand up to 1100 lbs of force. That will certainly deter most burglars.
Important: the base plate is 3/8″ thick, so make sure there’s enough space between the floor and the bottom of the door before buying.
Note: While this barricade is only for home use, there’s another Nightlock product (a commercial version) that requires no floor mounting and is recommended for campuses, churches, commercial buildings, etc. I know some schools use it to barricade outward opening classroom doors in case of an emergency.
Want to secure an inward opening door? Check out my 7 favorite methods to secure a door from being kicked in here.
4. Install an Outswing Door Security Bar
- Skill: Beginner
- Estimated time: 30 minutes
- Cost: $120 and up
If security is a top priority for you, you may want to consider installing a horizontal outswing door security bar. If you choose a durable model, it will withstand immense force when pulling the door, making it extremely hard to open it.
Security bars are pretty popular nowadays, however, the vast majority of them are designed for doors that open inward. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many security bars on the market that are made especially for outward opening doors (this heavy-duty model is one of them).
I know many shop and business owners who opted for a security bar to protect their outswing front door and keep the crooks out. However, it can be a great choice to improve home security as well.
The aforementioned model is suitable for both home and commercial use. In certain cases, it might work for single French doors too (given that the glass won’t prevent the bar from mounting). Keep in mind that it’s designed for a 36″ door opening, so if you have a wider opening, opt for another model.
Although installation requires drilling and screwing (you have to mount one bar on the door), it’s not a complicated process and can be done within 30 minutes. You just have to follow the guide that comes with the security bar.
5. Use Patlock for French Doors That Open Outward
- Skill: Beginner
- Estimated time: 1 minute
- Cost: from $90
Outward opening French doors are usually more vulnerable than single exterior doors.
Unfortunately, you won’t find many great solutions out there to secure this type of door.
There’s a simple security device, however, that I really like and find extremely useful: it’s called Patlock. Actually, I think it’s one of the best locks for French doors.
It’s designed in the UK, but you’ll also find it on Amazon where it has received a ton of positive reviews (click here to check them out).
Patlock will hold the interior handles of the door secure, so the exterior handles cannot be operated and the bolt and the lever remain in a locked position.
The best of all is that it practically requires no installation (no drilling or screwing), so you can lock your French doors within just a few seconds.
All you have to do is slide the Patlock over the handles and push to lock in place. It’s very simple and straightforward. It also serves as a visible deterrent.
Note: Patlock will work only with standard handles, so if your doors have curved handles, this device probably won’t fit.
If Patlock won’t work with your door, you can try this French door lock from Zentry as an alternative. You have to mount it on the lock stile, so unlike Patlock, it works independently from the door handle.
Here’s how this lock protects your French door:
Other ways to secure outward swinging French doors:
- Protect the glass by installing a security film. No matter how sophisticated methods you use to reinforce your French doors, burglars will still be able to get into your home by smashing the glass. That’s why securing the glass is always a good idea, and the easiest way to do that is to use security window film.
- Secure the hinges. It’s an important step towards security: you want to make sure your hinges cannot be compromised from the outside. Therefore, you either have to modify your existing hinges or get secure ones. Find the details in the first section of the article.
- Use a door barricade. The previously mentioned door barricade sometimes can also be used for French doors. For this to work, the door should have a wide enough frame where you can mount the plate. When in doubt, reach out to the manufacturer.
- Consider installing a security system. French doors have a large glass surface which makes them quite vulnerable to forced entry attacks. By installing a security system often you can reduce the chance of a burglary or at least make it harder for burglars. Moreover, this step will improve overall home security as well. If you’re on a budget, you can get a simple glass break sensor.
As you can see, securing an outward opening door is not a complicated task and can be done without spending a fortune. Most homeowners don’t even realize that an outswing door needs special attention, so the fact that you’re on this page means that you’re well ahead of most of them.
I highly recommend that you start by checking the hinges and if necessary replacing them with secure ones. This is a very inexpensive improvement that’s well worth the invested time and effort. Hinges with removable pins will attract burglars like a magnet.
A latch guard is another useful addition, especially if there’s a visible gap between the door frame and the door. Combine it with a door barricade or a security bar and your door will be close to impenetrable.
For French doors, using Patlock is a simple and secure solution, but for maximum security, I would suggest you also consider installing security window film.
Photo: Wikimedia (Tomwsulcer)