If your house has exterior French doors, you must be wondering how to secure them from burglars. This is a great question, because thousands of intruders break through these partially-glass doors every year.
The reason burglars often use French doors as an entrance point is quite logical – these doors are partially made from glass, and if it’s regular glass it can be easily broken. The burglar can then open the door from the inside by reaching the handle.
On top of that, French doors often have a euro cylinder lock which can be easily snapped. In that case, even if you reinforce the glass, the burglar can exploit this weakness instead.
So to secure a French door, you need to reinforce the glass. Then upgrade the locks, by replacing a poor cylinder lock with a better one, or adding a multi-lock system to the door. Installing a door barricade can also come in handy. In case of vacant properties, installing an alarm system or security camera is recommended on top of these options.
In this article I’ll show you how to secure French doors effectively and affordably. These are the 7 best things you can do.
1. Use a door barricade
My absolutely favorite method is the Nightlock security door barricade from Amazon. This device has two parts. It’s easily installed on the floor with a drill, bit and screws.
While one part is attached directly to the floor, the second part is raised against the door and serves as a small barricade that protects against forced entry when you want it to.
It can be used for any doors, regular or French doors, one panel or double. Made from solid aluminum with anodized finish, it’s durable and can take a real beating.
This is a simpler option than installing multi point locks, cameras or changing glass panels. However, if your property is in the middle of nowhere and its vacant for a long time, you’ll still need a camera or an alarm system to completely secure any entry point, including the french doors.
For lively neighborhoods however, a barricade can be a great deterrent against intruders simply because they would have to make way too much noise to break in.
2. Install a concealed lock for french doors
The purpose of multi-point locks is to secure the door at multiple points around the frame. This will prevent a burglar from opening the door by applying force. Because even if one lock point fails, other lock points will keep the door in place.
I found a great flush bolt that can be installed on one of the French door leafs to provide better resistance against forced entry. It’s best to install two of these, one on the top and one on the bottom part of an inactive leaf of a double door opening.
This is an affordable lock (check the price on Amazon) with a pretty simple setup. The required tools such as screws and surface strikes come with the package.
As the name says, it’s concealed and can’t be seen from the inside or the outside. If anyone tries to break through by manipulating a lock or slamming through with sheer force, they’ll be in for a rude awakening because the door will stay in place.
I don’t consider this as a go-to method for completely securing French doors. As I mentioned when discussing the door barricade, if the house is vacant and in the middle of nowhere, you’ll still need to take extra steps like install an alarm or a camera to completely secure the door.
But it’s definitely a good addition that will derail amateur burglars, and it can be used as an alternative to a door barricade.
3. Install tougher glass panels
Most regular windows, sliding glass doors and French doors are made from easily breakable glass panels. A burglar can break in without making much noise.
However, with tough glass in place, they will have a lot of trouble breaking through, and cause extra noise in the process. This will involve more risk for them of being heard by yourself or the neighbors, and will in many cases prevent them from even attempting to break in.
The best tough glass materials are:
- LAMINATED GLASS – It has the same strength as ordinary glass but there are two pieces of glass and a plastic layer in-between them. So even if the first layer is broken, the plastic interlayer will keep the whole, large pieces in place as you can see in the photo above. This will prevent the intruder from reaching inside or risk seriously hurting themselves on large shards of glass.
- TOUGHENED GLASS – This glass can be up to five times stronger than ordinary glass, so it needs to be hit much harder to break. It’s the type of glass used for phone boxes and bus stops. When it does break however, it will break into many smaller pieces, which are less dangerous from the intruder’s perspective. But considering the large amount of force that is needed to break it, it’s a great choice for most French doors.
- ANNEALED GLASS – This glass has underwent a special cooling treatment which improves its durability and strength. It’s also pretty hard to break, so it’s also good for security purposes.
How to identify what glass your panels are made from?
Tempered safety glass will have some label attached in a corner. It can be very small so look closely. If your eyesight is poor, use a magnifier.
Laminated glass doesn’t need to have a label. So you can identify it in a different way – it produces multiple reflections when you put an object next to it because it has many surfaces. So that can be a way to identify it. In comparison, glass that is not laminated will show only two reflections from the two surfaces of the glass.
If you are not sure what type of glass you currently have in place, contact a professional service to identify the glass, and possibly replace it with a tougher one if it doesn’t fit the security standard you want.
4. Upgrade the locks
Upgrading the glass should be followed by inspecting your locks.
Euro cylinder locks can be easily broken using a technique known as “lock snapping”. First the cylinder is broken and then the inner mechanism of the lock can be manipulated to open the door easily.
So I recommend replacing this regular cylinder with an anti-snap lock cylinder to prevent this from happening.
5. Insert longer hinges
There are two types of hinges, regular and security hinges. The first ones can be easily removed which poses a security threat.
If you can remove your hinges, they’re not the security type. In that case, you can fit your hinges with screws that are 3 inches or longer in order to make it more difficult for intruders to remove them.
6. Install an alarm security system
Vibration sensitive alarms can be easily fitted on a French door. If someone tries to enter by using force, it will trigger the alarm and it will produce loud noise that will wake up your household and the neighbors.
If you’re looking for something simple and affordable, I recommend the Doberman Security alarm (link to Amazon) for a number of reasons:
- easy installation – just peel the protective layer from the back and stick it on a door or window
- produces 100 dB sound if anyone tries to enter
- a pack of 4 costs less than $20 – you could secure most if not all potential entrance points with them
- 4.5/5 star rating with 300+ user reviews
7. Install a home security camera above the French door
Security cameras can be part of a larger security system, or they can be used independently. My recommendation is to place a camera with night vision where it’s visible.
It’s better to prevent a burglary from happening by letting the potential intruder know that your place is secure. Rather than capture the event with a hidden camera when it’s already happened.
But some intruders will try to break the camera before entering by throwing rocks or hitting it with a stick. So it’s also a good idea to install the camera out of reach, high above the door, and possibly behind a tough glass or a meshed wire.
Another way to protect the camera is to install a dummy camera on a visible spot, and hide the real camera close-by.
Either way, the security camera should be designed for outdoor use, meaning that it’s weatherproof. It should also have night vision. Good additions are WiFi connectivity and motion detection. If the camera has WiFi and is able to detect movement, it can send you an alert on your mobile phone or laptop if anything strange is happening.
A great outdoor security camera that has all of these features is Zmodo Wireless Security Camera. It’s the most popular security camera for home owners with over 6000 user reviews. Night vision, can withstand extreme temperatures, HD resolution, simple 1 plug installation… it’s really hard to go wrong with this one.
8. Set up an exterior roller shutter
This option is mainly for those who want to be extra careful. An exterior roller shutter, as shown in the photo on the right will make it impossible for a burglar to even approach the door. They’ll have to first open the shutter or cut through it, which will a) take time and b) produce noise.
For the shutter to be considered a security advantage, it should be an automatic shutter that can’t be opened from the outside easily. It should also be made from a relatively thick and durable material. Thin wooden or polyester materials just won’t do.
This can be a bit pricey, depending on where you buy it and whether you need it custom sized or not. Installing an exterior roller shutter can also be demanding as you need to make sure that everything fits perfectly.
I’m not a huge fan of this option, unless you’re really worried about intruders. Even then, I still recommend using it in addition to one or two other methods on this list instead of relying on it completely.
9. Install floodlights above the door
The purpose of floodlights is to literally flood an area with lights when they detect movement. One thing that burglars hate is being seen so it’s a great deterrent. Furthermore, it makes it easier for the neighbors or anyone on the street passing by to see if anything strange is happening.
Floodlights can also be a nice addition to your home. These LED 3-head security floodlights are the best for regular home settings. They can be installed in any outdoor spot, they provide a huge adjustable sight radius and 70 ft motion detection range. Talk about scaring a burglar!
Final Word: How to secure French doors?
Securing french doors involves doing two things:
- scarring intruders away with security alarms, cameras and floodlights
- making it harder for intruders to break-in by getting tougher locks, glass panels and possibly external shutters as well
It’s best to combine these two approaches. The first approach will keep the amateurs away from your home, and the second approach will make it very difficult for professionals to break in without alerting you and other law abiding citizens.