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How to Fortify Your Exterior Doors Against Forced Entries

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated October 15, 2021
A house’s front door from the inside
Tara Moore/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Your front door can be both stylish and secure

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You want your entry door to be welcoming and stylish, but also safe and secure. If you're not sure how to find the right balance, there are a few improvements that will make your door and frame physically stronger, without sacrificing looks. This guide provides you with methods you can use to fortify your exterior doors against forceful entries. Even better, you won’t have to replace your door to achieve greater security.

Reinforce Door Jambs

One way you can make your door more secure is by reinforcing your door jambs. Your door jambs are the vertical sides of the door frame and provide overall support to your door. If your door jambs are weak, there’s very little you can do to prevent break-ins.

To reinforce them, you’ll need long screws—at least three inches—to reach the frame studs and adequately secure the jambs to the door frame. You can also add a metal plate to your door jamb, which is screwed into the back of the frame, to reinforce the wood around the deadbolt lock and make it more resistant to brute force. Or if you’re not comfortable tackling this job yourself then contact a professional door installer near you to help.

Secure Door Hinges

Your hinges play a significant role in your door’s security. They connect your door to its jambs, which keep your door attached to its frame. Hinges are hidden on doors that swing inward but are visible (and vulnerable to tampering) on doors that swing outward.

Secure hinges to help strengthen your door, no matter which way it swings. You can do this by using: 

  • Crimped pin hinges: Crimped pin hinges have hinge pins that are longer than the hinge itself and can’t be removed, making it difficult and time-consuming to remove the door.

  • Setscrew hinges: A setscrew locks the hinge pin to one side of the hinge, meaning the setscrew is hidden and nonremovable when the door is closed.

  • Safety stud hinges: Safety stud hinges are removable, but the safety studs prevent the door from being removed by locking the leaves of the hinges together.

Strengthen Strike Plates

A strike plate is the metal plate attached to the door jamb where the deadbolt latch locks into. They’re a weak point that’s often targeted by intruders because the plate is designed to make opening your door easier, not withstand forced entry.

Even the most high-quality strike plates won’t hold up to a break-in if not installed correctly. Longer screws, such as two- to three-inch screws, are harder to rip out of the jamb and can help your plates defy access to your home. 

Or you can replace your existing strike plate with a box strike plate. This is a strike box reinforced with steel that attaches to the stud for top-notch security.

Upgrade Door Locks

A stone porch leading to a red front door
PC Photography/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Another way to protect yourself from forced entry is by upgrading your door lock. Someone attempting to gain access to your home will test the lock first. Most residential locks are designed the same and are susceptible to drilling, bumping, and picking. To prevent this, you’ll need to upgrade your door locks. 

Here are a few methods you can use:

  • Add security pins to your lock that will activate when anything other than your key tries to open the door

  • Install Grade 1 deadbolt locks for the highest level of security. They can withstand ten strikes of 75 pounds, go through 800,000 open and close cycles, and have a one-inch latch bolt. 

  • Replace single cylinder deadbolts with double cylinders, which require a key to unlock both sides of the door. These are more difficult to pick and protect against break-in, even if an intruder breaks the glass on or near your door.

Strengthen Glass Doors

Glass doors are charming and can add to your home’s curb appeal, but they’re also easier to break. Tempered glass, security film, security grille or bars, or plexiglass sheets are just a few upgrades you can install to make your glass doors more secure

Install Interior Reinforcement

Fortifying your door doesn’t just happen from the outside, you can also strengthen it from the inside using door barricades such as a brace, bar, or jammer. Each of these protects your home from unlawful entry since they can withstand plenty of force.  

Replace or Rekey Your Locks

If you recently purchased a home, chances are that you’re not the only one with a set of keys. The sellers, their families, and your realtor could have access to your home. For good measure, hire a locksmith to replace or rekey your locks and ensure that you’re the only one with working keys. 

Lock Your Door

While this one seems like a no-brainer, many homeowners forget, or don’t care, to lock their doors. Make sure to lock your exterior door every time you leave and when you’re turning in each night. Set a reminder on your phone or leave a note in a visible part of your home if you’re the forgetful type. Eventually, this simple, but effective safety measure will become a habit.

Upgrade Your Front Door

The best hinges, jambs, and door locks won’t protect your home from theft if your door is still a weak point. If your door doesn’t have a solid core, update it. You can expect to spend $475 to $1,560 on average for a door installation

Solid-core doors are made of a stronger material like engineered wood, which makes them more resistant to force. However, they’re more prone to wood rot. Hollow-core doors, or slab doors, have a weaker honeycomb cardboard interior that’s surrounded by fiberboard or veneer. Though inexpensive and popular among homeowners, these are not recommended for exterior use. 

Install a Keyless Lock

If you’d like to make your home more modern and replace your original deadbolts, then a keyless lock also can help you protect your home against forced entries. These come equipped with built-in alarm systems and anti-tamper lockouts, customizable code lengths, remote door locking and unlocking, and much more. They’re also aesthetically pleasing and DIY-friendly.

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