The Secure Dad 101 is a series of articles designed to educate readers on basic ways to make your home and family more secure. You can find more Secure Dad 101 articles here.
The Secure Dad 101: The Front Door
The front door of your home should look inviting to guests, not burglars. The advice given here will provide you some tasteful ways to make sure your front entry is secure while retaining your curb appeal.
Secure Door Tip 1: Light it Up
The easiest way to make your front entryway more secure has nothing to do with the actual door. As simple as flipping a switch, your porch light can take away a criminal's best friend: darkness. Criminals go for easy targets and that means the one with the most cover, in this case, darkness. Not wanting to be lit up like Christmas, a burglar will pass onto another home that looks darker simply so they won’t be seen. Keeping your porch light on all night can keep a potential threat off your porch. The more light you add to the exterior of your home, the harder of a target it becomes.
Notice how bright the entry way is when the porch light is on.
Secure Door Tip 2: Door Viewer
Never underestimate the value of a $10 door viewer, or peephole as I called them growing up. These give you a secure view of your entryway while you stay behind the protection of your locked door. When shopping for a door viewer, make sure you get a wide angle one that will allow you to see all of your entryway. Don’t let someone press themselves against the wall without you seeing them.
If you are concerned about someone from the outside noticing you, don’t worry there is a tip for that too. A door viewer cover will block the light coming from inside your home so the person on the outside will not notice a change in light when you slide it out of the way to look outside. Both a door viewer and door viewer cover are easy to install.
A door viewer cover can conceal your presence behind the door.
You can go the electronic route if you want. There are a variety of camera door viewers/door bells that will allow you to see outside via a wi-fi connection. These are fine to use. However there is a perfectly good analog tool you can use that will never need a new battery and will continue to work in the event of a power failure. It’s your choice.
Secure Door Tip 3: A Storm Door
Having a sturdy storm door is a great way to help secure your front entryway. One with a glass door is much better than one that has a mesh screen. Make sure you install a glass storm door with a lock, this can keep the main door knob from being accessed by someone on the porch. This will make it harder for a potential thief reach the front door to pick the lock or kick it in. A storm door is a great deterrent that adds a look of class to the front of your home.
This storm door keeps the main lock and door knob protected.
Additionally, if you have to open the front door to speak to someone, you can open your main door while keeping the glass storm door closed and locked. This gives you a barrier of safety while still being able to talk to the person. Also if you have a dog (or child) that like to bolt out the front door, the storm door can help you keep Scruffy (or Timmy) inside when the plumber comes to fix your sink.
Also to note, companies make storm doors with shatter proof glass. This is an additional way to deter a very determined thief. But know there is a potential safety problem. You do not want to make your front entry way impregnable. Fire, EMS and police might have to access your home to save you from a variety of situations. So having shatter proof glass on a locked storm door can keep them from getting to you quickly. For that reason alone, I don’t recommend you install shatter proof glass storm doors.
Secure Door Tip 4: Deadbolt Strike Plate and Long Screws
The deadbolt strike plate is the "forgotten" part of your deadbolt door lock. It’s the part of the lock system that attaches to the door frame. You usually install that last, or just use the existing one when you put on a new lock. You can buy the best deadbolt lock on the market, but if deadbolt goes into a flimsy strike plate, it’s not as effective. When a door is kicked in it is the strike plate that fails, not the deadbolt lock.
This strike plate is enclosed, strengthening the plate.
Many companies now make a strike plate with a “strike box”, or an enclosed chamber for the deadbolt to anchor inside. This enclosed area makes the strike plate much stronger and more resistant to being kicked in. Also in the strike box are usually two more holes for screws. So now you have four points to screw the strike plate to the door instead of the traditional two. See for yourself.
Not to be overlooked are the wood screws used to mount the strike plate. Most come with screws 1 inch or smaller. If the door is kicked in, the only thing holding the lock and the strike plate in place are the 1 inch screws that can be torn out of the door frame. Instead you have the option to replace the smaller screws with longer ones that will mount further inside the door frame, reinforcing to entire lock system. This is not an easy process, make sure your drill and bits are up to the challenge.
If you want to know more, Gater’s Locksmith Inc. has a great blog post about the subject.
These are some basic security upgrades that you can make to your front door this weekend.