Sliding glass doors are a nice addition to your home. But they are also the greatest security vulnerability. Even if you don’t secure your regular doors and windows, you should definitely do something about that large, glass surface that can easily be opened or smashed from the outside.
To secure a sliding glass door install a double bolt lock. This will prevent an intruder from lifting the door off its track. A portable security bar or a door barricade can be used to jam the door from the inside, so that it can’t be slided open from the outside. Install window security film on the glass surface to make it harder to break.
This video shows how easily a sliding glass door can be opened without making much noise:
If you think that this is an exception to the rule, think again. Try jiggling your your sliding door a bit and see if you can open it or not. You’ll probably be able to do it on your first try.
What’s funny to me is that many commenters on the video say that they were locked outside and couldn’t get into the house, but this “trick” helped them to open their sliding door. So it’s definitely a common security problem that needs to be addressed.
Now I’ll show you all the most important security vulnerabilities a sliding glass door has, and how to properly correct them:
1. The built-in latch is not reliable
As the video demonstrates, simply locking your sliding door will not provide any real security. The main reason is that a sliding door doesn’t have a real lock. Instead, sliding doors have simple in-built latches that can get manipulated by jiggling the door. The best way to improve door security is by installing a secondary lock that will keep the door in place in any situation.
When it comes to purchasing a secondary lock, always make sure that it’s made from strong material that can withstand forceful break-in attempts. I found two great solutions that fit the bill, and both are pretty affordable.
Double Bolt Lock
My top recommendation is the Double Bolt Lock for Glass Sliding Doors. With the double locking system, this lock makes it impossible to lift the door off its track. So the easy break-in tactic you saw in the video is no longer an option. This lock was also tested for forced entry load tension, and it could withstand over 1000 lbs!
The way you install it is by fitting it between the sliding glass door frame and the interior of the door panel. It’s an easy process and the step-by-step instruction manual is included in the product. Here is a video that demonstrates the installation process and how it works:
I also recommend this lock if you have small children. Because you can install it above the OEM lock so that it’s out of their reach. It’s also clearly visible if it’s left locked or unlocked, so you don’t have to worry about any accidents while you’re away.
Defender security patio door lock
The second lock I recommend is the Defender Security Patio Door Lock. This is a loop lock that is designed to secure the door to the jamb. It consists of a hardened steel locking bar and diecast constructed mounting plate and keeper.
The Defender Security is easy to install. It goes on the door jamb and the installation fasteners are included in the product. You can install it on the top or the bottom of the door. If you have small children and you’re worried about them opening the door, installing it higher up is the safer option.
If you have a double glass sliding door, with one door opening to the left and the other opening to the right, this lock might work if you install one piece for each door as some users have commented. But it depends on the design of the doors as well. In case of a regular sliding glass door it will definitely work.
But keep in mind that this lock will not protect the door from being lifted from its tracks. It will make it more difficult to open, but it’s not a burglarproof solution like the first lock.
Master Lock Security Bar
A security bar is a very effective addition to sliding doors and sliding windows. It successfully prevents the opening of the sliding panel from the outside.
When purchasing a security bar, the most important feature to look for is the length. You want to make sure that it’s long enough to cover the width of the sliding door when it’s closed, so that the bar can be placed as a barrier.
The bar should also be made of strong material, such as steel or hard wood in order to withstand extreme pressure or force placed upon the door by the thief.
The bar that I recommend is the Master Lock Security Bar. It’s the most popular one with over 4000 customer reviews on Amazon. There are many reasons for its popularity: adjustable length, multi-functional design and affordable price. It can go from 27.5 in. (70 cm) to 44.5 in. (1.12 m), making it of adequate size for virtually any sliding door or window.
Since it has a pivoting ball joint and padded foot, it can also be used to secure regular doors by placing one side of the bar on the door knob/handle and the other part on the floor. This way you can secure a regular door from forced entry.
One downside of a security bar is that you have to manually secure it to the door and remove it from the door. You also need to place it somewhere else when it’s not being used, whereas locking the door with a regular lock like the two before mentioned lock is faster once it’s installed.
On the other hand, a security bar doesn’t require any installation at all. Aside from being less work, this also means that it can be used for securing a different door or window at any time, depending on your needs. Plus, if you’re renting a place or moving out soon, it could be a more practical solution than drilling holes and installing a more permanent lock.
So overall, a tough security bar is a simple and effective solution for door and window security. You can check out the price and thousands of reviews for Master Lock security bar on Amazon.
Sliding Door Barricade
A door barricade is very similar to a security bar. It secures the door in the same way, by preventing it from sliding in order to open. The difference is that the barricade is a permanent installation. It’s screwed to the floor next to the door.
It’s a bit better than a security bar because it takes less space. However, the main downside is that you have to install it next to the door. This also means that you can’t move it around and use it in other places, which is something you can easily do with a security bar. It also means having to drill a few holes in the floor in order to secure it properly.
A great and affordable barricade is the Nightlock barricade, shown on the picture. It’s made of extruded aluminum with anodized finish. Keep in mind that this is a security solution only for a sliding door that is mounted on the inside track of the door unit, not the outside track.
All of these 4 locking mechanisms and top class. But if someone asked me to narrow the choice down even further I would recommend getting the double bolt lock (the first item on this list) and the security bar for extra safety.
2. Get a quick alert system
A quick alert system is the one that will quickly notify you in case of a break-in attempt. You can then act quickly by calling the police and/or carefully checking the door and the surrounding area yourself.
There are two types of quick alert systems:
First type is a classic alarm that will produce an annoying and loud sound if anyone puts pressure on the door. The second type is a WiFi security camera that sends you an alert on your electronic device of choice when the camera’s motion sensor is triggered.
Obviously both have their advantages and disadvantages:
The advantage of having a classic alarm will probably alert you immediately if you’re at home. It will also alert your neighbors. But if no one is at home during the break-in, the alert will go unnoticed.
The advantage of having a camera that can send you alerts remotely is exactly for those situations when you’re not at home and you can’t rely on your neighbors to notice the alarm and call the cops. You could be at work or on vacation and still get the alert that there is a potential break-in happening in your home.
So you’ll have to consider which of these advantages you prefer. If you or another family member is home all the time, you probably only need a classic alarm. But if your home is often unoccupied, installing a home security camera to observe the area in front of your sliding door might be the better idea.
But why settle for one or the other? You can install both a great alarm and a home security camera to get all the quick alert benefits. There are many affordable AND reliable alarms and cameras nowadays.
Best Door Alarm:
I recommend getting the Doberman Security Alarm which is the one that I’ve been using for a couple of months now to secure my front door. It’s very simple to use and costs less than $10.
No installation is required for Doberman, you just stick it to the door or window, turn it on and you’re done. It will go off if any stronger vibrations occur and produce 100 dB of noise. It runs on small button-cell batteries, which come with the alarm.
Get the right home security camera:
When it comes to cameras, things are slightly more complicated. A good modern security camera must have night-vision, the ability to record and also a motion sensor + WiFi connectivity.
The night vision as well as motion sensor and WiFi are the most important features in my opinion. Most break-ins happen during night time, so being able to see what’s going on in the dark is a big plus. But how will you see what’s going on if you don’t have WiFi connectivity? Especially when you’re away from home? So you really need both in order to have the chance of catching the bad guys in time.
But then we stumble upon another problem; are you really going to watch through the camera all day and night in the hopes of catching a burglar? Of course not! So you need a camera with a motion sensor in order to get alerts on your devices. THEN you have a reason to check the camera and see what’s happening.
With newer cameras you don’t have to worry about the motion sensor getting triggered by rain or wind, since they are designed to distinguish between real movement of humans and large animals, and weather. And if your sliding glass door is in the back where people are not constantly moving in front of it, you will have a big chance of receiving the alerts only when it matters.
Best home security camera:
I know of a great and affordable camera that has all of these features. It’s the Zmodo Wifi Camera with Night Vision. This is also the most popular home security camera on the market. If you go through the link to see it on Amazon, you’ll notice that it has over 6000 customer reviews and a 4/5 star rating. So you really can’t go wrong with this one.
How to install the Zmodo camera: The installation is pretty straightforward. First decide where to install it. My recommendation is to place the camera in a spot higher than the door, where it’s out of reach. Then you’ll need to make a small hole in the wall to pull through the cable and plug the camera into a power socket. Next, secure the camera into the desires position using the screws that are part of the package. After that, adjust the position and the lens to get the best view of the door and its surrounding area.
Installing the application is same as installing any other software. Use the instruction manual that comes with the camera to install the app on your mobile phone, laptop and/or other device you want to receive alerts on. You’ll also be able to change camera settings, and be able to see through the camera by using the device that has the application.
Update: this Zmodo cam has become Alexa compatible since the latest software update. And believe it or not, you can get TWO of these cameras for less than $70, as well as 1-month of free cloud recording.
3. Improve your privacy
You can cover the sliding glass door with different fabrics. This way the potential thief won’t be able to see the interior of your home. If a thief doesn’t know what’s inside and whether someone is inside or not, there’s less chance that they’ll invade your home.
But if everything can be clearly seen, including your big TV and new microwave, the temptation might be too heavy to resist. There are 2 great ways to hide your interior; drapes and glass privacy film.
See-through drapes will not conceal the interior. Instead, get blackout drapes (or curtains), or those that can’t be seen through. Either way, they’ll usually be thicker and heavier than regular drapes.
The reason why I like blackout drapes is because they are excellent for noise-reduction and thermal insulation. So if you’re suffering from traffic noise or you want more privacy in your home, and you want to keep the cold air outside of your home in winter, and hot air in summer, I recommend getting blackout curtains. They will also protect your home from unwanted sunlight and UV rays.
When purchasing curtains for a door or window, always make sure that it’s long and wide enough to cover the entire surface. There are two panel and one panel curtains. I prefer the two panel curtains for windows and one panel for doors, but that’s just a personal preference.
I recommend this affordable Nicetown curtain (the one from the photo). It has excellent customer reviews and I happen to be one of them! I have a two panel Nicetown curtain of this exact type on my bedroom window. It does a great job at blocking traffic noise and it’s made from soft but durable polyester fabric.
There is also a wide range of choices: 16 colors and 9 different dimensions available on the product page. So it’s easy to find the combination that fits your style and requirements. Also, don’t forget to install a curtain rod above the door if you don’t have one already.
Glass Privacy Film
Privacy film can be placed on the glass to protect the inside of your home from prying eyes. Unlike blackout curtains, privacy film allows light to come inside. But unlike curtains, you can’t simply pull it away from the glass in order to have a look outside.
It also won’t completely hide the inside, but rather make it impossible to figure out which objects are actually inside and whether there’s any movement. On the other hand, it allows light to come inside and for some people that’s a big plus when compared to thick drapes.
If you’re interested in this method, I recommend the Bloss privacy film shown on the photo. It doesn’t require any glue and can easily be removed from the glass anytime you want. It also looks really aesthetic, and there are 5 more great design patterns.
If you’re serious about concealing the interior of your home, make sure to add curtains or privacy film to other glass surfaces that are easily accessible from the outside, especially ground-floor windows.
4. Reinforce the glass so it doesn’t break
Your glass door can probably be smashed pretty easily with a crowbar or a similar tool. But that’s not always the case. Many modern sliding glass doors are made from double pane glass. This glass is extra thick and produces a lot of noise when its broken. So you may want to check what type of glass your door is made of. Do this before replacing your door with a stronger glass door, replacing the glass or anything of that sort, because you might have what you’re looking for already.
However regardless of whether you have a standard single glass or double glass panel door, it can still get smashed easily. And if the burglar is willing to take the risk of extra noise, the double pane glass won’t do much to stop the burglary.
So it’s definitely a good idea to reinforce the glass with a thick window film. This type of window film is different from the privacy window film. It’s purpose is to prevent the glass from shattering when it gets broken. Instead of pieces of glass detaching from the door and falling on the ground, they will stay in place. This means that the burglar will need way more time to break through the glass then he’d usually need, which means more noise and more chances of getting caught.
My top recommendation for window film is the transparent ShatterGARD film. Yes, it’s fairly expensive, but it’s the most high quality glass film you can get. It can withstand severe repeated blows and it’s almost completely shatter-proof. It’s used by FBI, US military, Bank of America and a host of large corporations to protect their buildings as well as regular homeowners who don’t want to take any chances.
This window film together with a double bolt lock is really all that’s required to fully secure a sliding glass door. The only exception is if your home is vacant and pretty isolated with no neighbors around. In that case getting a home security camera with alerts is also advised. Because in case of a vacant and isolated house, thieves could take their time to break the glass without worrying about getting caught.
So while ShatterGARD is the best option, there are definitely more affordable films that can be used to reinforce the glass. The BDF S8MC is an 8 mil thick transparent security window film that is used by many home and store owners. It’s not shatterproof, but it uses a strong adhesive that will keep the glass in place if someone tries to break it. There are many different sizes to choose from on the product page so definitely measure your glass panel before making a purchase.
Both of these window films are cheaper than replacing your current door or replacing the entire glass panel. And it’s way easier to stick a window film across a glass panel than to perform any replacements, not to mention the dangers of mishandling the door and smashing it during replacement. So I recommend the window film as the most convenient option.
5. Deter or catch burglars with floodlights
Burglars love to work in the dark. If you can shine bright light on their work, they might consider it too risky. Outdoor floodlight that illuminates the area in front of the door can do wonders in this regard.
The floodlight needs to have a motion sensor which detects when a person or a large animal is moving within the sensible distance. It will then flash the bright light which will stay on for a period of time, usually a minute or so. This happening could also alert you to the fact that someone is moving close to the door if you’re in the position from which you can see it. So it’s definitely a nice addition to any external door or window that could be a security threat.
Floodlights are some of the most affordable security devices. You can get one for less than $20. In fact, the one that I often recommend for home security is the GLW Motion Sensor LED Floodlight which costs less than $20. It can run on batteries or be plugged into a power socket. You can also adjust many settings, such as sensor radius and lighting time.
Final Word on Securing a Glass Sliding Door
You probably thought that a glass sliding door has only positive features. But then you realized that it’s a significant security liability. It can get smashed like an ordinary window and opened even more easily, while also providing a huge gap for thieves to take out anything they want from your home easily.
But there’s really no reason to panic. In this case you really can have your cake and eat it too. Simply reinforce the glass and get a superior lock for your door. You can additionally purchase a quick alert system like an alarm or a security camera for extra safety.
If you’re worried about strangers walking buy and checking out the interior of your home, cover the door with a good curtain or privacy window film. By using one or more of these options you can definitely improve your home security.