A regular door and lock will do nothing against a determined burglar. All it takes is a forceful kick and they’re in. Just check out this video for proof (0:15-0:22):
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend hundreds of dollars to bolster your frail door’s defenses. It can be done for just a couple of bucks and in half an hour. Even if your door doesn’t have a traditional lock in place. Furthermore, the following recommendations can be used for both outward and inward opening doors.
So allow me to share with you the 10 best ways to secure a door from being kicked in. These are recommended by security experts across the board, and I’ve implemented many already to secure my own home and office.
1. Install a grade 1 deadbolt
A cheap cylinder lock is unfortunately the standard lock on most doors. Unfortunately, it provides very little protection against kick ins and other break-in methods. The most common ways that burglars bypass a cylinder lock is by lock snapping (video) and lock drilling (video). Both can be done in less than a minute.
A Grade 1 deadbolt is far more secure because it can withstand greater force and is harder to snap off.
Since grade 1 deadbolts are made of stronger material, they are also more difficult to drill through. The latch is also longer, at least 1 inches, whereas grade 2 and 3 are at 5/8 inch.
When it comes to force attacks, tests show that it would require 100 kicks from a really strong person to kick through the door with a grade 1 deadbolt in place. This is equivalent to 10, 75-pound strikes, which is the test that grade 1 deadbolts have to pass in order to be placed in this ANSI classification category.
If you want to invest in a little extra protection, consider getting a double-cylinder grade 1 deadbolt. The double cylinder prevents it from being opened from the inside without a key. For example, if an intruder decided to use the window to get in and then to open the door from the inside they would run into a problem because a double-cylinder lock has to be thrown or retracted on both the inside and the outside by a key. The same is not true for one-cylinder locks.
With all of these considerations in mind, my top recommendation is Kwikset 985 (aff link to Amazon). It is a double-cylinder BHMA/ANSI grade 1 certified deadbolt. It also features a fully adjustable latch and SmartKey technology. The smart key feature is useful because it allows you to re-key the lock by yourself in just a few seconds. Simple, powerful and at an affordable price.
If you’re not sure how to install or replace a deadbolt, here’s a great video tutorial.
2. Install a box strike plate with 2″ screws or longer
A strike plate is that metal plate with a hole (or holes) cut out of it. It is fastened, usually by screws, onto the frame of a doorway, and it gives the latch a place to sink into when the door closes. Door strikes are designed to conform to the shape of the latch, as well as the thickness of the door frame.
However, a standard strike plate is not very good against force attacks. Consumerreports.org compared standard strike plates and box strike plates efficacy against forced attacks.
The comparison showed that a standard strike plate, where the bolt of the lock passes through a rectangular opening and the screws are 1 inch or shorter, is very vulnerable to kick-ins and force attacks. A more secure alternative is a box strike plate, featuring a steel cup where the bolt locks into and is secured with at least 2 inch long screws.
If anything, you should at least replace the original, short screws with 2+ inch screws that can anchor the strike plate and the hinges to the door frame more tightly. To avoid moving the hinges and the strike plate from their original position, replace one screw at a time.
A box strike typically costs around $10-20 and replacing it should take you less than 1 hour. I have this box strike plate from Amazon installed on my front door, secured with 3″ screws. So far so good.
Also, here is a quick video tutorial for installing the strike plate.
3. Install hinge bolts under and above the hinges
Hinge bolts are an affordable way to make the door more kick-resistant and to prevent it from being lifted from the hinges. For this reason they are especially useful for doors that open outwards, because in that case the intruder can easily access the hinge pins from the outside.
Here’s an video that shows exactly why hinge bolts are so darn useful.
Read more: 5 Ways to Secure a Door That Opens Outwards
4. Reinforce the door jamb
The door jamb is that protruding side-part of the door frame that can prevent the door from being kicked in:
Reinforcing the door jamb with metal strips (or shields) will make it more able to withstand force attacks. There are many door frame security kits available, the most popular one is Door Armor Max that features not only a door jamb shield but also a strong strike plate and hinge protection.
If you are only interested in a door jamb shield, I recommend the door jamb security reinforcement from Armor Concepts. It’s easy to install on your own (you only need a power drill) and it was successfully tested by the police against kicks, battering rams and other common forced entry methods.
If you are more of a DIY person you can make your own jamb shield by following these instructions.
5. Invest in a solid core door
There are three types of doors in terms of construction: solid core, solid wood and hollow core. Interior doors typically have a hollow core that makes them light, cheap and easy to install, but also easy to kick in. Some can be punched through if you’re strong (and pissed off) enough.
Exterior doors are typically solid core or solid wood, but not always. They are made of high density engineered wood which makes them stronger and heavier.
Hollow core doors tend to cost between $50 to $150 per door. Solid core doors cost $70 to $250, on average, while solid wood doors typically cost between $250 to $600 per door.
Definitely check that your door is not hollow core, because if it is, all of the extra security measures will not address the main vulnerability. If you decide to replace a hollow door with a heavier one, also make sure that the hinges are strong enough to carry the additional weight.
6. Secure the glass door with security film or steel grille
Standard glass is very vulnerable to kicks and other forced attacks. Burglars can break the glass and easily access the deadbolt from the other side. If you don’t have a double-cylinder deadbolt it will make their job that much easier.
There are three options for improving glass security. The best one is to install a steel security grille over the glass pane, either from the inside or the outside. A security grille might not look pretty, but there are decorative versions or you have one custom made to fit more nicely.
The second best option is to install security film on the door glass. Security film can be stronger or weaker, and this is primarily based on their thickness. The purpose of standard security film is to keep the broken glass shards in place. This means that the burglar will take longer time and cause more noise to break through the glass. Check out my top 7 security film recommendations. The article also features a full DIY installation guide.
The third option is to replace the standard glass with tempered or toughened glass, or even bulletproof glass if you are ready to splash out on this. Toughened glass is formed from two pieces of glass bonded around a tough plastic interlayer made of polyvinyl butyral.
Obviously, any such direct glass replacement would require more money than the first two options. And it would probably require hiring a professional to make and install it on your door (and why not the windows as well?). But if you have the money and opportunity, it’s definitely an option.
7. Replace the door chain with a strike plate lock
Standard door chains provide a false sense of security. When you open the door to see who’s on the other side, a regular kick can be enough to kick open the door and slam you in the face.
In general, it takes just a few kicks to break a door chain and get the door wide open. In comparison, a basic strike plate lock can withstand over 50 full force kicks. If you don’t believe me, check out this entertaining video comparison and see for yourself:
There are many advantages to using a strike plate lock:
- provides great security
- fast and easy installation, just fix it to the door jamb
- it’s very affordable
- it can be installed on both exterior and interior doors
This strike plate lock from Amazon was designed by a long time police officer. Not only is it very tough, it also features 2 inch screws which ensure that it’s strongly attached to the door jamb.
8. Use a door barricade or a security bar on inward opening doors
Just like a strike plate, door barricades and security bars are useful tools for securing a regular hinge door from the inside. Some can also be used to secure double-entry doors (French doors).
The main advantage of a door barricade is that it secures the door from the floor, so it’s efficacy is not determined by the strength of the door. The other main advantage is that it’s portable. You can easily slide it in or out, and use it on different doors.
It’s also a great security tool to bring on vacations due to its small size and the ability to use on any regular hinge door. There are also door barricades that have a security alarm that will go off in case someone tries to forcefully open the door while it’s firmly in place.
A vertical security bar (also known as door jammer) is similar to a door barricade, but it’s a bit more versatile. It can be used on both hinge and sliding doors. To secure a door place the yoke end of the security bar firmly under the knob or the lever and the pivoting ball joint on the floor.
Security bars can be adjusted lengthwise, which makes them convenient for securing windows as well. This iron security bar is the top of the bunch, featuring a 120 dB security alarm and 22.25″-43. 7″ bar length adjustment so you can use it on all doors and windows.
9. Use a horizontal security bar from the inside
This type of security bar, especially one made of steel can withstand really high forces. It can protect both outward and inward opening doors from kick-ins and other break-in attempts.
If a burglar destroyed your deadbolt, hinges or even the door frame, a horizontal security bar would remain in place. For this to work is should be installed on two lag bolts that go into the jack studs near the door frame, not on the door jamb or the door itself.
For outswing doors there are specially designed horizontal security bars like the popular Exit Bar on Amazon. Naturally, a horizontal bar can be used to secure French doors as well.
10. Install a security camera, alarm and other effective deterrents
The main lesson in security is that the easiest way to win a fight is to avoid one. Most burglars avoid security cameras like the plague. Even a fake security camera will deter many.
If you want to secure a back door that is rarely used, consider installing a security camera with a motion sensor. You will be notified on your electronic device if it picks up any significant movement. Then you can check the video footage in real time and see if it’s a neighbors dog or a meaner animal that wandered into your backyard.
Read more: 10 Best Outdoor Security Cameras Under $100
There are also different alarm systems you can install. There are small and affordable battery-powered alarms that you can stick on any door or window and remove just as easily. The most popular one in that category is the Sabre Wireless Alarm. If the surface is rattled the alarm will go off and wake up everyone in the house and possibly the nearby neighbors as well. If you don’t want to cause panic because a racoon bumped into the door, there are alarms that provide the silent feature that will notify only you or the security company, in case you’ve outsourced the monitoring to them.
Another powerful deterrent are signs and stickers that warn visitors of your powerful security sytem, your dangerous pitbull or perhaps your impressive firearm. Here is a wide choice of signs and stickers for burglary deterrence. Of course, you can implement more than one of these security tools on a single location to instill greater fear into them.
And what would a sneaky ninja burglar feel like if they approached the door only to activate a powerful motion-sensor LED security light? They’ll have nowhere to hide and can be easily seen and reported on by anyone on the street, the neighbors house or from your home window.
Of course, you don’t have to implement all of these methods to secure your door. Just one or two will be a significant upgrade. A grade 1 deadbolt and a strike plate lock/barricade will be a great security addition to a regular door.
Also make sure to reinforce or protect glass surfaces, especially those near the locking mechanism. Lastly, a good deterrent will make any newbie burglar (and that’s most of them) avoid your place altogether.
So, I hope you’ve found this information helpful! Check out my top 43 home security tips for more tried-and-true security advice.