More than 1.1 million burglaries take place each year.
The average burglary costs a victim $2,661.
Solid doors are more expensive than hollow but more secure.
Glass doors are cosmetically attractive but vulnerable to break-ins.
In extreme situations, door braces can add 350+ pounds of force to an entry door.
Welcoming friends and family into our homes is a cherished tradition, but burglars are never a welcomed guest. Unfortunately, a weak entry door or less than optimal lock can invite unwanted intruders.
Whether you prefer to keep the front door open or closed, knowing you have a secure entry door is crucial. Here’s how you can get the job done.
Is Your Home Really at Risk?
Even with a rise of 50 million in population over the last two decades, Americans are experiencing fewer criminal incidents. In fact, burglary has declined by 51.2% since 1999. But the number of burglaries per year is still alarmingly high. In 2019, Americans faced over 1.1 million burglaries. Over half (55.7%) involved forcible entry. Burglary victims suffered $3 billion in property losses, with the average per victim coming in at $2,660.
Fortunately, you can increase your home security by:
Locking all doors and windows when not in use
Not sharing vacation plans on social media
Having adequate exterior lighting, including motion-sensitive lights
Installing an alarm system
Finally, you can reinforce your entry doors and locks. Remember, the easier it is for a burglar to gain access to your home, the more likely they’ll choose your home. If they struggle to find an entry point, they’re more likely to move on.
How to Reinforce Your Entry Doors and Locks
1. Swap out Your Door
Are any of your entry doors hollow? This could make them an easy target for burglars. Swap out any lightweight or hollow doors for solid, heavy doors. Opt for hardwood or even a steel security door if it’s within your budget. You’ll pay a bit more but you’ll gain protection from unwanted visitors and dangerous weather.
2. Replace Screws
If your door is already solid, the next step to reinforce your door is to swap out some of the hardware. Most door hinges are secured with ½ inch screws, which only enter the doorframe. This makes it very simple to kick in a door, even when locked. A quick upgrade is to swap out the installed screws for 3 ½ inch screws, which will extend past the framing and into the studs behind.
3. Upgrade Your Lock
While most front doors have a deadbolt lock, a side door or garage door may only have a lock on the door knob. Upgrading to a deadbolt lock boosts a door’s strength. Keep in mind that hollow doors won’t benefit much from a deadbolt, so upgrade both your door and lock at the same time.
4. Take Advantage of Technology
Consider using a smart lock, which uses an access code instead of a key. This means your door won’t have a traditional lock a burglar can try to pick. Routinely changing your access code is recommended though to prevent hackers from tapping into your lock.
5. Skip the Glass
While they let in natural light and can make a space feel bigger, avoid glass doors, including for your deck or patio. Too much glass on your entry door can also spell trouble. All a burglar has to do is break the glass and reach in to unlock the door.
6. Use a Brace or Bar
Though they may be considered extreme in some situations, both a door brace or bar are incredibly efficient door barricade devices. They can withstand several hundred pounds of force. Some door braces require no installation and take only seconds to place under the door frame or beneath the handle. Some models, like a barricade bar, require hardware installation. Keep in mind that barricade bars can be a hazard in other types of emergencies, like a fire. Make sure everyone in your home knows how to remove them if needed.
7. Reinforce Sliding Doors
Sliding entry doors are especially vulnerable. Replacing them with solid doors is ideal but there are other options to boost their security. Start by blocking the tracks with wooden or metal dowels. If your sliding door only has a latch lock, add a secondary locking device, like a loop lock. Finally, applying security film to the inside of glass sliding doors can add extra support, making it more difficult for the glass to break.
Lock in Professional Services
It doesn't take much time or an oversized budget to strengthen your entry doors and locks. But if you would prefer that a professional handle the job, look for a locksmith near you. Not only will they have the skills to complete the job accurately and quickly, they'll also be up to date on the latest techniques and available hardware. Either way, reinforcing your entry doors and locks will leave you more confident in your ability to protect your home, possessions, and family.