OAKLAND − One of the most common ways burglars break into homes is by kicking in an exterior door. The reason they’re able to do this so often is simple: the hardware on most doors doesn’t provide any real protection. By taking proactive steps to “harden” your exterior doors, you can better secure your home against this threat. Here are some areas to address:
Deadbolt strike plate
On a normal door, the deadbolt strike plate is only 2 inches long and fastened by 1/2-inch screws—hardly adequate for protecting against kick-ins. To give your door jamb maximum reinforcement, install an 18-inch door strike plate that’s fastened by 3 1/2-inch screws, which will secure the strike plate not only to the door jamb, but also to the double studs in the wall.
Once you have a good deadbolt strike plate installed, the next step is to reinforce the outer edge of the door itself. Since the installation of a deadbolt creates a 1-inch bore through the door’s edge, the actual wood in this area is only 3/8 of an inch thick. To reinforce this area, install a door edge stiffener—fastened with two binder bolts, it sandwiches the door’s edge with two pieces of metal to reinforce the weak spot.
Lastly, you need to protect the hinge side of the door, which involves a couple of steps. First, make sure your door has three hinges with a four-screw hole pattern. Some door hinges only have a three-screw hole pattern, but this doesn’t provide adequate protection. Additionally, both in the center of the door stop and the door itself, replace any 3/4-inch screws with 3 1/2-inch, #9 deck screws. This will ensure your hinges are securely attached to both the door and the wall stud.
In addition to addressing these crucial areas of your door, make sure the door itself is sturdy. If you have a 1 3/8-inch thick door, upgrade to a 1 3/4-inch solid wood door. Also, make sure the quality of your lock is decent. Even though most locks look the same, their quality can vary from Grade 3 to Grade 1. Grade 3 locks should only be used on interior doors—they’re hollow, made of pot metal and easily broken with a hammer. Grade 2 and Grade 1 locks, on the other hand, are tested by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association and rated for their strength, so make sure your exterior door has one of these.