The Importance of Door & Lock Security
The front or back door is usually the main entrance into any home for those who reside there but it is also often the access point that is highly targeted by thieves. Securing your door is one of the most important steps you can undertake to ensure your home and your belongings are kept safe and sound. Take a look at our top tips below in how to secure your door to the highest standards and take a look at our home security checklist here to tick of the protocols you already have in place and discover what could be improved on in regards to your home security.
The first thing to consider when evaluating your door security is to look at the actual door itself; check the door over to make sure there are no issues including the handle, mechanism and the lock itself as these could leave your door vulnerable to intruders.
Front Door Security
A common method burglar’s use to break-in is to just simply kick the front door down which will either cause the door frame to split and come apart or cause the lock will fall off all together. If the door looks sturdy and well cared for there is less chance a burglar will even attempt to break down the door.
The four most popular door material types are uPVC, wooden, composite and aluminum, if you’re looking to replace your front door take a read below to find out which door would work best for you!
uPVC stands for Unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride which is a hard and rigid material similar to PVC but no additives have been inserted into the making of. uPVC doors are becoming more and more popular as they are low cost in comparison to other exterior door types and relatively low maintenance but does this mean they compromise on security? No, although they are light they are surprisingly sturdy. These doors come with two components, a cylinder and a multi-point locking mechanism (with a gearbox attached).
Composite doors are arguably the most secure that money can buy. They are made of a mixture of durable, high quality materials that consist of an outer frame, sub frame and a solid core which are then pressed and glued together under intense pressure.
Good quality composite doors are expensive but they are worth it as not only are they high security they are highly durable too and can withstand all weather conditions. Made to look like a wooden door from the outside the inner mechanisms are very similar to a uPVC door.
Wooden doors are aesthetically pleasing and are quite good insulators but they are high maintenance and require lots of work as they are subject to warping and fading in different weather conditions. If you do have a wooden door it is a good idea to clean the door with a damp cloth and dry it thoroughly a couple of times a year and to ensure that you maintain the finish with either a varnish or UV inhibitor paint.
Security wise it is recommended that you have both a ‘Yale’ type lock plus a ‘Mortice’ lock fitted on a wooden door, which we will go into further detail further on.
Aluminum is often used to make doors as it is strong and durable. Like uPVC it is surprisingly light but due to its strength aluminum is able to hold more glass which can make it look more aesthetically pleasing. Aluminum doors are often a popular choice for commercial properties as it is provides great security when combined with reinforced glass and multi-point locking systems.
Home Door Lock Types
Locks are often subject to multiple break-in techniques used by burglars including picking, bumping, drilling and snapping combined with the daily use of a lock also it is vital that your locks meet British Standards to ensure your home is as secure as can be!
Night Latch ‘Yale Type’ Locks
A night latch which is more commonly known as a Yale Lock is mostly found on wooden doors and consist of two parts; the backset which is fitted to the inside of the door and the rim cylinder which is fitted to the outside of the door. Night latches automatically lock when the door is shut and a key is needed to get back into the house upon closing the door. There are a range of night latches on the market which vary from £35-£75+ depending on the security type, brand and model of the lock. Take a look through the variety of night latches below.
Standard Night Latch
Standard Night Latches are operated with a key to gain entry from the outside and on the inside contains a small handle which is pulled down to release the door, sometimes also fitted with a small snib that locks the latch both when closed and open. Standard night latches don’t meet the requirements of insurers as it is deemed not secure enough and therefore requires a secondary lock such as a Mortice that complies with British Standards.
Deadlocking Night Latch
The only difference between a deadlocking night latch and a standard night latch is that you can turn the key in the lock from the outside to lock the interior handle. This is useful if there is no one else in the house as once this has been activated by turning the key one full turn in the opposite direction of opening the interior handle is locked into place and cannot be released until someone has unlocked the door from the outside.
A deadlocking night latch like a standard night latch is not approved by British Standards alone and also requires a secondary lock that does meet these standards. The advantage of a deadlocking night latch over a standard is that if someone were to break-in by smashing a window in the door they will not be able to reach in and turn the handle to release the door.
Auto Deadlocking Night Latch
An auto deadlocking night latch is the same as its sister part the deadlocking night latch but does not require a key to deadlock the door; once the door is shut, the deadlock is activated. These locks are mostly approved by insurance companies as long as they meet British Standards BS3621 so only one lock is required.
Double Locking Night Latch
A double locking night latch contains two keys as you are able to lock the door from the outside like all the other night latch variants but this lock has a keyhole on the inside so you are able to lock and unlock the door both ways. Double locking night latches are British Standard approved and comply with insurance companies.
There are two variants of mortice locks; a deadlock and a sash lock. A mortice deadlock consists of just two parts, a deadbolt and a keyhole for locking. Deadlocks are most commonly used on wooden doors in conjunction with a night latch. A sash lock consists of deadbolt, keyhole and a latch with a door handle.
5 Lever Mortice Lock
A 5 lever mortice lock is fitted into the frame of a wooden door and is lockable from the inside and outside using a key. This lock must be approved by British Standards BS3621 to be used individually or be supplemented by an approved night latch to be considered secure enough.
3 Lever Mortice Lock
The 3 lever mortice lock is the same as the 5 lever except it is less secure as it contains fewer levers therefore it increases the risk of key duplication.
Cylinder locks are often typically used in conjunction with a mechanism and are mostly found on uPVC doors. There are a couple of variants of cylinder locks; a euro cylinder and a thumb turn cylinder.
The most common lock is a euro cylinder fitted to an uPVC or composite door. Euro cylinders are lockable of both sides of the door using a key. Euro cylinders without increased security such as an anti-snap lock are very easily broken by burglars so it is recommended to update these types of locks so that they conform to the British Standards.
Thumb Turn Cylinder
Thumb turn cylinders use a key on the exterior side of the door and a thumb turn on the interior side. They are a good security solution as residents can lock and unlock their doors without the need for a key. Thumb turn cylinders are also great in an emergency as they are quick release, if there were a fire in the home there is no need to worry and waste time trying to find the key to unlock the door.
Lock snapping is a common method used by burglars as it requires no specialist tools and is a scarily quick method to gain entry. The best way to combat this widespread issue is to install anti-snap locks. On a standard lock a thief applies force which snaps the lock and exposes the mechanism but on an anti-snap lock there is a small indentation on the lock which then acts as the weakest point so if force is applied the lock will snap at that weak point leaving the mechanism intact and out of sight so burglars cannot gain entry.
Multi-Point Locking System
Multi-point locking systems are most commonly fitted into uPVC or composite doors and work in conjunction with a cylinder lock. They are a long bar with 3, 4 or 5 locking points that fits into the body of the door which then locks into the frame. The locking bolts are activated when the handle is lifted and the door fully secured when the cylinder is locked with a key.
Security Door Furniture
Another way to increase the security for your front door is to implement a few extra’s which can be cost-effective and easy to install but will still make a big impact on securing your home should an intruder try to break in.
Most doors now come with a peep hole as standard as these are a great addition in improving the security of your door. It allows residents to see who is knocking on their door without opening it and being exposed to the risk of potential intruders.
These are like a hood for the internal side of the letterbox and are used to prevent burglars from sticking their arm or a tool through the letterbox to reach through and turn the handle or to be able to reach for keys.
Similar to a letterbox guard, cages fit around the internal letterbox and collect the post that comes through the door; great also if you have dogs who like to get to the post before you do! Letterbox cages also prevent arms or tools creeping through to reach keys or the door handle.
Similar again to those above it but a homeguard is a fire-retardant bag that fits around the letterbox and protects the home from things such as fireworks being posted through the letterbox as well as protecting from burglars attempts to reach the door handle and keys.
A door chain is attached to the frame of the door and the door itself and come in a variety of designs. These are considered an extra lock that allows you to open the door part way to interact with the stranger at the door without putting yourself and your home at risk.
A high security door handle is mostly twice as thick as a regular door handle and protects the door against handle and lock snapping which are techniques used by burglars to gain entry into a home. A high security door handle must be paired with a high security lock.
Sash jammers are a good way to improve your door security on a budget; they range from around £10+ depending on size, make and model and prevent the door from being opened if the lock has been broken. They are available as locking and non-locking and are usually used for uPVC doors.
Intruders may attempt to lift a uPVC door off its hinges to gain entry into a property. Hinge bolts which are relatively cheap (£5+ depending on size, make and model) and easy to install prevent a door being lifted from its hinges unless the door is open. Hinge bolts are small round lugs that are drilled into the spine of a door and engage into keeps in the frame when the door is closed.
Strike plates are fitted to the frames for latches and other door components to secure into and keep the door in place so that it doesn’t swing open freely. You can upgrade your strike plates to improve the security of your home by installing a security strike plate which is larger and thicker than a traditional plate. Furthermore, one of the most crucial techniques you can apply to improving the security on a strike plate is to use longer screws and more of them. The advantage of using longer screws is that they won’t slip out easily during an attack and using more means the more a burglar is going to have to work to try and open the door.
London & Birmingham Bar
Manufactured for wooden door frames are weak during an attack as the often splinter and split when force is applied, allowing the intruder to kick the door down. A London bar is highly recommended to strengthen and reinforce the door frame to prevent this as it is a solid steel bar that sits over the existing locks. A Birmingham bar is much like the London bar but the Birmingham bar works on internal faces and inward opening doors.
Lock guards are used to reinforce and strengthen a wooden door around the existing mortice lock. These are fairly easy to install and start from around £20+.
A security bolt is fixed to the door edge and is lockable from the inside and outside of the door with a spline key and adds another layer of security onto your door.
Patio Door Security
Patio doors are often overlooked when it comes to door security and that is knowledge that many burglars take advantage of. Some of the security extra’s above is applicable to patio doors and below are a couple more tips on how to secure your patio door.
Patio Security Bar
Patio security bars are an extra security bar that fit over the door handles not only will these help keep the mechanism locked into position even if the locks have been broken. Patio security bars are also a great visual deterrent which may put the burglar off from the start.
Strengthen the Glass
All patio doors should be fitted with double glazing not only to help protect from the windows being smashed but also to keep the heating bills down too. If the door has full length glass it is recommended that it is upgraded to tempered glass as this if broken only breaks in small circular cracks instead of shattering.
Things to Remember
Don’t leave your keys in obvious places such as under a plant pot or doormat outside your home. If you do want to leave a spare key somewhere we suggest you leave one with a trusted neighbour. Remember to not leave your keys insight of any windows or in reach of the letterbox.
Always remember to lock your door at night and when you leave the property. If you have a cylinder lock with a multi-point locking system just lifting the handle isn’t secure enough to leave your property. Lift the handle to activate the locking points and remember to lock the door with the key to ensure security.
Find a Locksmith
You may be able to upgrade your door security yourself by adding some of extra security measures stated above but to ensure that your home security is the best it can be and fitted correctly so as not to make your door weaker it is best to find a professional Locksmith. Our fully trained and accredited Locksmiths at Keytek® offer homeowners and residents a free home security check on every call out. If you are booking us in just ask our Locksmith for more security advice and we will gladly help.
Even More Protection
As well as the information above, if you are worried about home security and wish to implement even more security measures we recommend you take a read through our other home security guides for more information. We’ve highlighted a few at the top of this page!