Feb112013

17 Comments

Home Protection: Security Basics

Guest post by Thomas Bryant, a licensed Fire Protection and Security professional, who blogs at Cube 2 Farm

Whether you are an urban prepper or are perfecting a homestead, upgrading the locks on your home and making sure they are installed properly is one of the most overlooked, least expensive, and most effective ways to harden your security.

Broken glassI believe the best way to keep the bad guys from getting your stuff is to keep them out in the first place. This is the job of a good commercial quality lock and NOT your average home alarm system. Alarm systems only let you now when someone got in – they will not keep them out.  (Unless you are taking about perimeter defense systems-which I am not.)

Not all locks are created equal.  The lock on your doorknob or leverset is not strong enough to withstand breaking and entering. Neither are the small screws holding the hinges to the door frame.

You need an ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt on every exterior door, the door from your attached garage leading into your home, and on every door leading to your stores. Period.

  • ANSI Grade 1: Highest Rating for Commercial and Residential Locks
  • ANSI Grade 2: Highest Rating for Residential Only Locks
  • ANSI Grade 3: Lowest rating and only meets minimum grading requirements

Unfortunately, most common residential locks are only ANSI Grade 3 and can be quickly and easily defeated by intruders.  The ANSI grade can be found on the package of higher quality locks. I recommend and install Schlage ANSI Grade 1 Deadbolt Locks.

You will also need to install a Door Reinforcer and a Strike Plate. The door Reinforcer is a piece of steel that wraps around your door at the deadbolt location. This prevents breaking and splitting of the door.

The strike plate is critical piece of hardware installed on the doorjamb. Without a properly installed quality strike plate, your door can be kicked in – even with an ANSI 1 deadbolt. The bolt can be kicked through the wooden doorjamb and trim.

Pro Tip: Use a Lock Installation Jig for doors with no existing deadbolt.

Once you have installed your new deadbolts it is now time to install the strike plate. The strike plate should also be ANSI Grade 1. The Schlage deadbolt comes with the strike plate and 3” screws.


The strike plate must be secured into the doorjamb with at least 3” long screws. The screws should go through the doorjamb and into the structural studs in the wall. The screws must be strong enough to withstand kicking and battering. DO NOT USE black drywall type screws – they will snap in half!

Pro Tip: Use a drill to bore a pilot hole in the wood to prevent the jamb and studs from splitting.

It is imperative that you reinforce the hinge side of your doors with long screws just as you did with the strike plate. On the door side of the hinges, remove and replace one screw at a time. Use a pilot bit to prevent the jamb and studs from splitting and install the long screws. Again, the screws must be long enough to go through the jamb and into the structural studs. You will be alarmed to find the screws you just removed are only 1 ½” long. These tiny screws are holding your door in place and will be torn out of the jamb with only one or two good kicks.

Pro Tip: Use the proper sized Philips screw tip when installing the longer screws. A bit that is too small will bounce out of the slots and strip out the screw head before you get the screw seated and will be nearly impossible to remove.

Check out “how to videos” on YouTube like this one on how to secure and reinforce a door.

For around $100 per door you have hardened the security of your home and purchased real piece of mind. No lock is completely burglar proof. But, by hardening your doors, you are making it harder to break and enter, the would-be intruder needs to make more noise and spend more time to break in to your home – two things he doesn’t want to do.

TommyPortraitTommy is a licensed security and fire safety professional with 20 years experience designing, installing, and maintaining life safety and security systems. He is licensed in multiple states and has obtained the highest certification level from NICET.  Tommy is passionate about teaching others about how to be safe and secure at work and at home.  He specializes in perimeter protection, video surveillance, intrusion detection and fire protection technologies.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

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(17) Readers Comments

  1. This is a great post and I agree that door security is often overlooked. I wish I had Tommy’s how-to advice when I replaced my exterior door hardware a few years ago.

  2. Reminds me – these look pretty impressive but was wondering if anyone had any experience with these:

    3M Security Window Films:
    http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Window_Film/Solutions/Markets-Products/Residential/Safety-Security_Window_Films/

    Door Kickin-Prevention:
    http://mysafedoor.com/how-it-works

    • Tim, I’ve researched the 3M film and it seems to be pretty effective based on reviews and feedback from users. I haven’t used it on my own windows yet, however.

    • We put installed a similar product on alll of the windows of our new home. It installs like those screen protectors for tablets/smart phone screen, but on a larger scale and you have to cut it to size for each window. The plastic is very strong. Of course, we haven’t tried to break in our own windows, but are pretty confident it will take a lot to get through them. We are pleased with the way they look also. Do your least visible windows first in case of errors.

  3. Excellent post! Unfortunately too many people don’t use common sense. Lately there have been numerous home breakins in our area. In more than a few instances I feel a great deal of blame rested with the home owners.
    The doors were not locked. Doesn’t that seem like a simple thing to do? The woman in the home wasn’t worried about locking her door as she was home and would have heard someone open the door.
    Another case was when the family left their garage door open. The door from the garage to the house was unlocked, and in the thieves walked.
    I’m an old Army wife. When stationed in Germany the Military Police used to come around in government quarters shortly before dusk. I had any number of MPs thank me for locking our doors & windows. Seemed like common sense to me then and still does.
    My husband will to out in the yard to cut the grass. You guessed it. I’ve got the storm doors locked (dead bolts), house doors locked (dead bolts installed as mentioned in the post), and door from garage to house locked (again dead bolt).
    Same routine in the evening. I go around and double check all doors and windows before I fix dinner.
    Before we go to bed we’ll check again just in case I missed something.
    Overkill? Maybe, but I prefer to be just that little bit more cautious.

  4. Pingback: Harden Your Home Security | Hillbilly News

  5. Do you recommend the strike plate for steel doors? We recently replaced our old wooden door with a steel door.

    I need to check the screws on the hinges didn’t realize they may have used smaller screws.

  6. Hi Lisa, what can you say about the steel doors using the strike plate? I also have this type of setup of security in my home. Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!

  7. Very good article. If you live in a concrete block home, install Tapcons in your strike plates and hinges.

    If you used a commercial steel door, I would say no to the reinfocer. This would end up being another area for rust to occur. I perform the building maintenance tasks for a city in Florida.

  8. Pingback: Oath Keepers Blog Archive Home Protection: Security Basics - Broadland Security

  9. This sounds great, but what if you have sliding glass doors on the back side of your house? If they are smashed, it doesn’t make sense to bother reinforcing your front door.

    • The window security film will go a long way toward protecting your glass doors from being smashed . The manufacturers have video on their website of a would-be crook trying to smash in a business window and eventually walking away.

  10. Hi Andrew.

    Thanks for your comment. The best security for sliding glass doors is to replace them with solid wood or steel doors. I understand this is cost prohibitive. The next best DIY solution to harden the security of sliding glass doors is to install 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick Lexan sheets over the glass and place a cut to length 2″X4″ in the bottom slider track to prevent the door from being forced open. Lexan is Plexiglas’s stronger impact resistant cousin. Lexan sheets can be purchased from local hardware stores, home centers, and glass suppliers. The shop will cut to the correct size for you. Make sure the Lexan sheets are cut to overlap the panel frames. Pre-drill screw holes at all 4 corners and every 12″-18″ evenly around the perimeter of the Lexan sheets. Drill matching pilot holes in the panel frames. Make sure to install the Lexan sheets to allow for door operation: The Lexan sheet for the movable panel should be installed on the inside of the house and the Lexan sheet for the fixed panel should be installed outside. For the ouside panel use clear silicone caulk to seal the screw holes. GE makes a caulk specifically for Lexan. I also recommend using nylon or neoprene washers with all mounting screws as “cushion” to prevent cracking the Lexan sheets when screwing them to the frames. For extra security, use tamper-proof or one-way screws on the outside panel. You can also use Lexan to harden the security of windows.

    -Tommy

  11. Pingback: Home Protection: Security Basics | Secure the Nest

  12. Regarding securing windows – I’m not convinced about the plastic film. If you dig into it, you’ll find that there are many different grades of film and specific installation requirements for them. The stuff for the homeowner is typically sold as a UV shielding film and will provide “some” resistance to entry, without the company defining “some”. The videos that show commercial buildings with windows intact after a bomb explosion in the street, etc. have windows covered in a very thick film that has to be specially installed and anchored on metal window frames. It doesn’t work for the typical wood or plastic window sash found on homes.

    The only thing I’ve found for windows is either bars, which don’t look good and which some codes won’t allow because the window is blocked in a fire, or metal screens – these are either stainless steel mesh or a sheet of metal that is perforated. For example:
    http://www.midwestsecurityscreens.com/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n30PfJVAfzY&

    The problem with steel doors (typical residential) is that they will literally fold up if you batter them with a ram (like a landscaping timber). Commercial steel doors are tough, but usually not tight (leak air) and don’t look attractive. The Europeans have got the problem licked with various companies that make very secure steel doors intended for the residential market. Take a look at this Lithuanian company’s product: http://www.door.lt/en/ I know of only one distributor in the USA who sells something like that – it’s in Florida and aims at the hurricane market. They import an Italian door.

    It’s kind of disappointing that no one in the USA makes something like this (at least that I know of).

  13. All of it useless in a wood frame house to open thieves will use a car jack and “stretch” door past dead bolt… use a sliding bolt with a lock for top and bottom make them work. the window plastic is good but how many of you took the windows out of the frame and then put it on or you did lazy person way and just in the frames? if you did that all you did was help thieves not get cut.

    you want to see entry security look at old cops video of crack houses and grow rooms ones where door basher doesn’t work … that is a set up to have. even a drop across piece of wood will help with supports screwed into 2×4 wood frame across the door will buy you seconds.. the rest is a dream land safety will keep honest people honest but when SHTF it is not nearly enough.

  14. This is great advise…and we are in process of upgrading our doors and locks. However, I have had 2 home burglaries in a previous home,and both were window break-out. Without bars, how do you protect again that issue. Day time entries.
    BTW, neither window was covered or obscured by shrubbery. Open view. I simply came to the conclusion that locks are for honest people and if the bad guy wants in… he’s going in!! What say you?

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