If your door security isn’t up to scratch, your home’s safety can be compromised. Two-thirds of burglars gain entry through a door, so you should take every opportunity to enhance their security.
External wooden doors should be solid, at least 44mm (1 3/4 inches) thick, and – like its frame – strong and in good condition. Strength can be improved by fitting a steel strip and plates to the door frame and around the lock.
When replacing a door, make sure you install one that is constructed and certified to British Standard PAS 24-1 Doors of Enhanced Security.
Ask for your new door to be fitted with a chain or bar and, if it doesn’t have a window or other way of checking who’s outside, a door viewer. Use these devices every time somebody calls but don’t leave the chain or bar in place all the time as anybody with a genuine reason for having a key won’t be able to get in.
Glass panels on or around doors are especially vulnerable so should be replaced with laminated glass, which is much stronger. Alternatively, stick shatterproof window laminate film to the inside of the glass, which will have the same effect.
For all outside doors, including French doors, fit – and use – five-lever mortice deadlock bolts, ideally Kitemarked to British Standard BS3621 Thief Resistant Lock Assembly – some insurance companies may insist on this. A deadlock can only be opened with a key, meaning a burglar will not be able to get in by smashing a glass door panel and opening the door from the inside, nor could they escape through the door with your possessions.
It’s advisable to keep doors locked, even when you’re at home. Use the mortice deadlock or, on PVC-U or other enhanced security doors, the fully or double-locked mode, which should always be the case at night.
Remember to fit all security devices with strong screws or bolts. But before adding anything to PVC-U or metal doors, check with the original manufacturer or installer to make sure your warranty will not be affected.
Unless they already have a multi-locking system, sliding patio doors should have anti-lift devices and locks fitted to the top and bottom to stop them being removed from outside.
If in any doubt, get advice from a specialist door contractor and/or security expert.
Enhancing door security
Other parts of a door can be enhanced to help safeguard your home, family and belongings.
Make sure your hinges are sturdy and secured with strong, long screws.
For extra protection – and particularly important if the door opens outwards – fit hinge bolts; these help to reinforce the hinge side of a door against force and have the added bonus of being cheap.
Letterboxes should be at least 400mm (16 inches) from any locks. You may wish to consider fitting a letterbox cage or other restrictor to prevent anybody from putting their hands through the letterbox and trying the latches from inside.
Never hang a spare key inside the letterbox: this is an obvious place that any would-be thief will check.
- Rim latch
Most front doors are fitted with a rim latch, which locks automatically when the door is closed. These can be opened from the inside without a key. For strength and quality, look for products that are Kitemarked BS3621 Thief Resistant Lock Assembly.
For added protection, you should consider installing:
- An automatic deadlock, which locks automatically when the door is closed; it needs a key to open it from both the inside and outside
- A mortice deadlock, as described above
- A chain or bar and door viewer, as described above.