We tend to think of B&E guys as being furtive types who linger in the shadows and look for an open basement or garage window. But that’s not the case. Most go straight for the front door.
Why is that? Well, there are a couple reasons. First off, a surprising number of people simply forget to lock the front door behind them when they go out. Or they leave via the garage and forget that they left the front door unlocked.
In other cases the burglar will see an old door and determine that it’s no match for a good crow bar or a straightforward blunt force assault. And all too often, they’re right.
The best way to significantly upgrade the security profile of your home then, is to reinforce the front door. Below we take a look at the best door reinforcement devices and kits currently on the market.
1. Master Lock 265D Door Security Bar
What we love about the Master Lock 265D Door Security Bar is its simplicity and effectiveness. Toss in the fact that it’s very well made and you hit the trifecta when it comes to entryway security. The bar could not be easier to install, and perhaps best of all, it doesn’t have to be a permanent part of the entryway, so your home won’t take on the air of a prison.
The 265D is fashioned from 20 gauge steel that won’t back down even in the face of a determined assault. The top of the bar wedges decisively under the door handle while the rubber foot takes firm hold of the floor without scratching it. Another plus is that you don’t need any tools to install it, and you can even take it with you on the road to help secure motel doors and the like.
2. Door Armor Double Door Kit
The Door Armor Double Door Kit is a more involved door reinforcement solution than the Master Lock 265D. If you live in an area that has an issue with break ins you might want something more comprehensive like this. It can be used alone, or in concert with something like the 265D to really lock down the entryway.
The kit includes a 46 inch long door jamb seal, Door Armor hinge shields that protect hinges from manipulation, mini-door shields that help prevent double doors from being kicked open with an aggressive strike in the middle, and a night lock that provides one more level of protection where the two doors meet. If your home has been hit before, something like this is a great idea.
3. Buddybar Door Jammer
The Buddybar Door Jammer works on the same basic principle as the Master Lock 265D. It wedges up under the door handle and extends down to the floor where the rubber footing holds it in place. Where the two differ is in engineering. Where the 265D uses a push button adjustment system, the Buddybar uses a lever system that locks the bar into position quickly and tightly.
The bar itself contains no plastic parts and can withstand more than a ton of force being applied to it. The locking mechanism is very fast and effective and the foot is large and provides outstanding grip on vinyl, concrete, wood and even carpeting. The downside? It’s 5x the price of the Master Lock, while the level of security it provides is about the same. What you’re paying for is that oh-so-nifty locking mechanism.
4. Door Armor MAX
The Door Armor Max door reinforcement system is the little brother of our #2 selection. This one is made for single doors and so does not include those items intended to hold 2 doors fast against an assault. Like the Double Door Kit this one is a very straightforward installation that doesn’t require any special tools or advanced DIY skills.
The Door Armor Max kit reinforces the hinges, latch plate and the door jamb and secures them from forced entry by way of kicking or prying. It comes with a $500 lifetime satisfaction guarantee. What does that mean? That means that if you install this kit as instructed and someone breaks into your house through the door anyway, Door Max will refund your money plus an extra 500 bucks.
5. Defender Security U9590
The Defender Security U9590 is an ultra-simple response to the threat of break ins. It’s a single U-shaped plate that reinforces the latch plate and handle mechanism, and the area between the two, which often comes under fire when thieves lose patience. The plate itself is fashioned from a single piece of stainless steel and will hold its own against aggressive intruders.
You can use the U9590 on wood or metal doors and it’s designed to accommodate key-in lock sets as well as dead bolts. Like the other items on our list you don’t need to be an engineer to install this reinforcement device, nor do you need to be wealthy to afford it. A good choice to use in concert with one of the security bars profiled above.
6. Defender Security U10827 Hinge Reinforcement
This is another simple but effective door reinforcement device from Defender Security. This one is designed for use while you are home, (or while you’re out if you enter and exit the house through the garage). It installs in just a few minutes on the jam above the door handle and snaps closed quickly and easily to prevent your door from being kicked in or otherwise forced open.
The U10827 can withstand up to 800 pounds of force, much more than your average B&E weasel can bring to bear. It features a variety of handsome finishes so it won’t interfere with the welcoming atmosphere in your entryway, and it’s child safe and tamper resistant. If there’s a downside it’s that you may need to do a little work on the door jam so that the U10827 fits flush.
7. Winonly Home Security Door Lock
The Winonly Home Security Door Lock is very similar in design, appearance and function to the U10827 we just profiled. It too installs on the door jam and snaps into place when you want it or need it to prevent the door from being forced open. If you live alone and feel a bit vulnerable the Winonly Door Lock should help put your mind at rest a bit.
The Winonly Home Security Door Lock is 12 times as strong as the average deadbolt and if you install 2 (one up on the door, one down low), nobody is kicking in your door any time soon. You may need some DIY skills to install it properly, but nothing extraordinary. Just follow the easy to read directions and you’ll be fine.
8. Door Devil Door Security Kit, 13″
Most burglars enter a home by either turning the knob and walking in, or by prying the door open at the latch. To prevent the former all you need to do is make sure the door is locked at all times. To prevent the latter install the Door Devil Door Security Kit. This kit provides the components you need to reinforce common targets on the door and secure them from weasels.
There are 3 plates involved: one fortifies the striker plate, another fortifies the latch plate and the last fortifies the hinge plate. Altogether they protect the 3 most vulnerable parts of your door. The plates are fashioned from premium grade alloy steel, typically install in about 10 minutes and fit all standard doors. Robust security for under 100 bucks. Not bad.
9. The Door Bull – Door Barricade Lock
We love how simple and low tech the Door Bull Door Barricade lock is. There are no moving parts, and it installs in just a couple of minutes. Essentially you attach the hanging plate onto the door frame at the vertical center point of door frame above the latch. When you want to secure the door just take the U-shaped lock portion and slide it onto the hanging plate.
It’s simple and effective and you don’t have to worry about batteries dying or any mechanical components failing on you. Requires no special skills to install and even comes with the drill bit required to drill the guide holes for the screws. If you’ve been broken into before you might consider putting one on your bedroom door too.
10. Doorricade Door Bar
The Doorricade Door Bar is the most serious of our door reinforcement products. It is literally a steel bar on a hinge that rotates down to slip into a bracket on the opposite side of the door. With this puppy in place no one is kicking down your front door. It’s that simple.
Not everyone will be down with the prospect of having a steel bar across the inside of their door. But if break ins are a reality where you live you’ll be glad to have this. And at less than 100 bucks it’s not going to break anyone’s bank.
Do Most Burglars Really Come Through the Front Door?
They do. Contrary to popular belief they don’t disable alarm systems or sneak into your garage clinging to the bottom of your car. They walk up to the front door and turn the knob. If it’s unlocked (as it often is) they walk in. If it’s not, they’ll break out a crow bar and try to pry it open, or if it’s old enough they’ll just kick it in.
Statistics support the notion that the front door is the burglar’s preferred point of entry (1). But what’s maybe even more surprising is that more burglaries occur during the day than at night (2). So you may think of burglars as stealthy ghouls stalking the night-time shadows. But most of the time they stride right up to your front door in the middle of the day and walk right in. This is why you need to make sure your front door is as secure as it can be. By denying front door access to B&E guys, you automatically make your home a safer, more secure place.
What Can I Use to Reinforce My Door?
The most common way to reinforce a door is to use a door reinforcement kit. As you can see from the above list there are numerous different kinds of reinforcement kits that include various items designed to bolster the resistance of the vulnerable parts of the door mechanism.
For instance: many kits will include a reinforced latch plate. The latch plate (3) surrounds the latch and is a common door component for burglars to exploit. If it’s old or loose or exposed it’s easy to slip a crowbar in and pry the door open.
Latch plate reinforcements often include a cover for the latch plate. This prevents the intruder from being able to pry the door open at that point. But even if you don’t cover the latch mechanism simply replacing the latch plate with a larger, stronger plate can go a long way toward preventing forced entry.
Why Are Front Doors So Weak?
It’s complicated. First of all, the front door has a job to do creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to your home. If it looks like the front door of a prison, guests will be turned off. So part of the vulnerability of the door has to do with aesthetics. You don’t want your home to look like a fortress.
Also, doors get old like everything else. Even if your door was robust and sturdy and bold as brass when you first installed it, it’s going to get weak and vulnerable over time. That’s just the nature of things. At the same time the door frame will get old and become vulnerable itself, increasing the likelihood of a break in. So if you want your front entryway to be tough and resilient replace the door (4) before it gets too old.
The type of door you choose is also important. If break ins are a fact of life in your community the best thing you can do is make sure you have a metal front door. Today’s metal doors can be made to resemble wood, but are many times stronger. Pairing a metal door with door reinforcement mechanisms will provide you the best chance of warding off a break in.
Is it Hard to Install a Door Reinforcement Kit?
In most cases all you need is a manual or electric screwdriver and perhaps a drill to create pilot holes for the screws you’ll be using. If you are having a hard time getting elements of the kit to sit properly, or if they are interfering with the door’s ability to open and close properly, you may need to finesse them a bit. At that point things get a bit more complicated.
In such a case you might need to use a dremel tool (5) or a reciprocating saw, or a simple sanding block to remove small amounts of wood to facilitate a good fit. In most cases, though, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to an hour to install the components of a door reinforcement kit.
Does Everyone Need to Reinforce Their Front Door?
Probably not. But the unfortunate reality of urban life is that there have always been and will always be weasels out there who would rather steal from others than get a job. Even if you’ve never been broken into before a door reinforcement kit simply says that you’re living in the real world and want to keep your streak of no break ins intact.
Typically the further you get from the city, the less your chance of being broken into. But really, no community can claim to be 100% free of burglaries. Door reinforcement solutions like the ones on our list are just a common sense response to unfortunate realities. Like auto alarms and smoke detectors you hope you never need it, but it’s good to know it’s there if you do.
Why Not Just Use a Security System?
Security systems are always a good idea, and if you can find one that suits your needs you should install it, whether you reinforce your front door or not. That said, you need to keep something in mind when it comes to security systems: most of them are “after the fact”.
That means they won’t prevent someone from breaking into your house, they’ll simply react to someone who has broken in by sounding an alarm, or alerting a call center, or capturing the weasel on video, or all three. By the time someone responds, the burglar may be halfway across town with your laptop, jewelry and cash.
A better idea is to prevent them from getting into your home to begin with. And that’s what door reinforcement is all about. If it were up to us we’d advise that you have both reinforced entry doors and a security system.
Should I Replace My Front Door Too?
That is something only you can decide, but if your door is getting long in the tooth it might be a good idea. Even if you install robust reinforcement mechanisms a thief might still be able to gain entry by simply attacking the body of the door itself. The ideal situation is that your door and the reinforcement mechanisms are equally sturdy and dependable.
If you are going to replace your door you should make sure your money is well spent on a door that will stand up to the efforts of the local B&E man. Below we list the most common types of entry doors and whether or not they’re any good at keeping bad guys at bay.
The hollow core door – A definite no-no for a front door. If you have one of these you should replace it before you install any reinforcement mechanisms. If you are buying a door to replace an old door, avoid the hollow core door like the plague. As far as entry doors go, it’s a total waste of money.
The solid core door – This represents a step up in strength and durability over a hollow core door, but not by much. Inside this type of door is a core made of particle board (6). Not exactly robust. In addition, if any moisture penetrates to the interior of the door the particle board will swell, undermining the structural integrity of the entire door. So, as you may have already figured out, this type of door is not recommended for exterior entryways.
The solid wood door – Now we are getting into the realm of acceptable front doors. However, just because a door is made of solid wood doesn’t automatically qualify it for your entryway. It depends on the type of wood used. White pine and cherry are good choices for interior doors but not for exterior. On the other hand cedar is an excellent choice for an exterior solid wood door. It’s a moisture resistant hardwood that is tough, is not prone to warping or shrinking, and insects don’t like the smell. You also have the option to stain or paint cedar to get exactly the look you want.
The metal door – The metal door is the gold standard when it comes to secure entry doors. In fact replacing your current entry door with a metal door produces one of the best ROIs of any home improvement project (7). In addition, you’re likely to get a break on your homeowner’s insurance if you install a metal door on the front of your home. As far as security goes you just can’t get any better, and if you reinforce the door in any way you’re only going to ramp up the security to an insane degree.
What About Door Windows?
Having a window or windows in your entry door can certainly increase the aesthetic value, but it will also increase the vulnerability. A window is like a built in workaround for a burglar, providing them with an easy way to bypass some or all of your door reinforcement efforts by just breaking the window and reaching inside. If you must have a window in your entry door try having the regular glass replaced with shatterproof glass (8). It will cost a bit more but you’ll have your door window, and won’t have to worry too much about it undermining your door reinforcement.