According to crime statistics from years past, front doors are burglars' preferred point of entry into homes. Therefore, when considering enhancing security around the house perimeter, front doors should be one of your top priorities.
Looks Are Important When it Comes to Security Doors
It is well known, that when burglars 'work' a neighborhood, one of their main concerns is doing the job quickly and quietly. Stalling on a well-secured door and causing a racket trying to penetrate is probably the last thing on their agenda.
Burglars collect information about the neighborhood prior to the break-in, as part of their attempt to spot the most convenient target. A front door looking well secured will have two effects: it will prevent a burglar from easily entering your home and it will likely discourage him from even trying.
So, if you're running on a low budget, consider investing your money in thickening your front doors. The image of a heavily secured door will have a psychological impact on the burglar as he wanders around the neighborhood, looking for easy scores. A well secured door acts as a message to the burglar. It tells him to go and find a different home to break into.
This leads us to another conclusion. A low budget will be better invested in security devises that have double benefits: an effective physical barrier as well as a psychological one. Security devices like alarms and door contacts are important, but they do not broadcast their qualities as they are barely discernible.
If your budget will not allow a total security package for your home and you have to choose between different devices, choose the ones that possess a psychological effect. Remember, looks can be deceiving. The following list contains security items that possess a psychological impact on burglars:
- Security yard signs
- Surveillance cameras
- Dummy surveillance cameras
- Window bars
- Motion sensitive outdoor lights
- Video door phones
Design Standards for Door Security
For a door to be considered well secured, it must be constructed from either metal or solid hardwood. Plywood, USB or MDF wood composites, usually have a weaker material structure. They do not possess the elastic qualities of solid hardwood or metal and tend to fail more easily once under pressure or strain.
The door's total width should be no less then 2 inches thick, and its central construction should be at least 1-½ inches thick. The door's frame must be made of metal or solid wood -the same material as the door itself. The section width of the door's frame should fit the door in size and proportion.
Frames should have the same strength as that of the door they hold. Most doors are built from panels consisting of two vertical inner poles and top and bottom frame rails. A front door usually has additional vertical and horizontal construction units.
Make sure the door you purchase adheres to all of these standards, and is constructed for security purposes and not just yard decoration. Keep in mind that having a secure door does not necessarily mean compromising on aesthetics. Most door manufacturers are aware of this need and manufacture security doors with various ornaments and styles.
Door chains and door viewers
Chains and viewers (also known as peepholes) are important security features common with perimeter doors. A chain is a simple looking but crucial device that helps you control communication with visitors on the outside. A door chain is only a couple of inches long.It is permanently attached to one side of the door frame at about head height.
The second connection point of the chain is to the door itself using a sliding rail hub. The hub, with the chain attached, limits the opening of the door to a crack only a few inches wide. This mechanism allows you to physically interact with the visitors without having to open the door to its maximum limit. By detaching the chain from the hub the door functions regularly.
A door chain is worth installing for several reasons:
- The chain functions as a second barrier, when an intruder attempts to physically barge through your door the chain will stop him.
- It gives you just enough space to receive small packages or talk to strangers without actually opening the door.
- Any attempt to open a chained door from the outside will be impossible. When the door is opened to a crack the chain is at its maximum span. In order to detach the chain from its sliding rail the door must first be closed shut.
Door viewers, (i.e. peepholes) are another excellent device for enhancing door security. They are cheap to buy and simple to install. A viewer enables you to look out and recognize callers without actually having to open the door. Most viewers have a 180 degree horizontal field of view, similar in effect to a fish-eye camera lens. Most viewers are constructed from metals, and are positioned at about head height.
You may also consider installing an additional door viewer, a bit lower in height, for the use of children.
Security Door Locks
Perimeter doors are the most common entrance portal for burglars and for this reason they need extra protection. All perimeter doors, including yard doors, should be equally protected. Do not compromise on low class doors or low class locking mechanisms for the rear entrances.
Make sure that all exterior doors are evenly secured. Remember, doors with a soft doorjamb, which are commonly used as interior doors must not be used on the perimeter doors of your house. They can easily be broken into; one can smash them with a good hard kick.
ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) categorizes locks according to their quality from grades 1 to 3 (1 being the best). We recommend that all locks used on perimeter doors should be of grade 1. Deadbolt locks are the most recommended kind for perimeter doors. Deadbolt locks usually come in one of two different types: single cylinder and double cylinder.
A single cylinder has only one keyhole, on its exterior end. The opposite end (inside the house) has a simple rotating handle for locking and unlocking the door. Single cylinder mechanisms may become a hazard if installed in a door with wide breakable glass panels.
If the glass panel frame is located within hand reach from the lock, the glass can be shattered enabling the burglar to insert his hand and easily turn the lock handle. If you have a single cylinder lock installed inside a door with breakable glass panels, you had better replace the glass with a break resistant transparent type of material. Your other option is to replace the single cylinder lock with a double cylinder one.