The Importance of Door & Lock Security
As part of the Keytek® Home Security Guide we take a look at Door Security. We run over everything you will need to consider to update your door security from door types, to locks to door furniture!
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. Read our guide on Fixing a Broken uPVC Door Lock Mechanism here.
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.
How can I make my Front Door more Secure?
1. Upgrade your Locks
Simple but effective. Making sure your locks are not broken, old or rusted is an effective way to improve your front door security. If you do find your locks need changing or upgrading then its best to call a professional locksmith, to make sure the jobs done right.
Whether you have a wooden or uPVC door, make sure you use locks that are ‘British Standard’, that way you can be sure the locks you are using have gone through rigorous testing to make sure they are secure. There is also the option to install Anti-Snap or High Security Locks on uPVC doors. These might be more on the expensive side, but if it stops a burglar from gaining entry to your home, then the extra cost might be worth it.
It’s also worth checking with your insurer that all your locks are insurance compliant. If you have a break in and you find you had the wrong locks, you may not be able to claim. Read our guide on What to Do When Your uPVC Door or Window Won’t Open here!
2. Check the Strength of your Door and its Frame
You need to be sure that a burglar can’t kick through your door, especially if it’s wooden. You can have the best lock in the world, but if an intruder can force his foot through your door then it will be useless. You can reinforce your wooden door by inserting a strike plate made from metal which is attached with extra-long screws that are drilled in to the studs an all sides of the doorway. You can get strike plates from most DIY shops or order them online. If you are not confident to install this yourself, then its best to engage the services of a professional locksmith.
The door frame is another aspect of front door security you can improve on. First thing to do is to make sure that is securely screwed or bolted to the walls around it. You can make it more secure by fitting special bars to make the locking points and hinges sturdier. You could also try hinge bolts; they are designed to prevent the door from being forced off its hinges.
3. Consider Windowless Doors
While having a door with windows in lets more light into your home and is aesthetically pleasing, it does pose a security risk. If the window in your door is placed near the lock, it would be easy for a burglar to smash the window and unlock your door from the inside. If you don’t want to get rid of the windows in your door, then you need to add some security measures. Make sure the glass is reinforced and not easily broken. Another is to install decorative bars or metal reinforcement; this will stop the burglar reaching through if they smash the glass, or potentially could deter him from breaking in all together.
4. Install a Deadbolt for a Wooden Door
Any door is only as strong as its lock, so you need to make sure you have the best one available. You need to make sure your lock extends deep enough into the door frame with withstand any kicking or other types of forced entry. At a minimum your bolt should be 2.5 centimetres in length. You don’t need the most expensive deadbolt out there but it’s probably worth not getting the cheapest. Spending a bit more could be the difference between a successful break in and an unsuccessful one.
- Upgrade your locks
- Ensure your door and frame are in good condition
- Add a deadbolt
Types of Front Doors
The four most common front door types are uPVC, wooden, composite and aluminium, if you’re looking to replace your front door take a read below to find out which door would work best for you!
The four most popular door material types are uPVC, wooden, composite and aluminium, 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. Check out our guide on Fixing Common Composite Door Lock Problems here.
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.
Aluminium is often used to make doors as it is strong and durable. Like uPVC it is surprisingly light but due to its strength aluminium is able to hold more glass which can make it look more aesthetically pleasing. Aluminium 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.
- uPVC doors are cheapest and easy to maintain
- Composite doors are the most secure but most expensive
- Wooden doors are aesthetic but hard to maintain
- Aluminium doors are less common for residential properties but hold lots of glass.
Is uPVC safer than wood?
The reliability of uPVC is one of its biggest assets. Rot won’t be found in the frames, it’s solid and impenetrable structure cannot be broken without the use of heavy power tools which is the perfect deterrent against burglars. Compared to wooden doors which need continuous maintenance check for rot and weak points in the frame, which can be a big sign to burglars that your home might be vulnerable.
What is the most Secure Front Door?
Composite doors are the most secure front door you can buy. A composite door consists of multiple materials that all work together to reinforce its strength and durability including but not limited to a solid timber core, insulating foam, glass-reinforced plastic and aluminum. A composite door with high security locks and extra security measures such as a smart doorbell is a great way to secure your door as much as can be. Please remember no home is 100% protected from burglaries or damage. Take a look at our blog about the Most Secure Home in the World here!
How do I Reinforce my Front Door?
Beside ensuring your door, the frame and the locks are in good condition it is worth taking a look at these other things you can do:
Screws: Usually, front doors are fitted with ½ inch screws that are secured into the strike and hinges with longer screws. Using 3 ½ inch screws will reinforce the strength of your door by securing your door to the wall studs.
Strike Plate: If you have a small standard strike plate fitted to your door frame, upgrade that to an elongated strike plate. This allows you to implement more screws which will help prevent the door from being kicked in as the force is distributed over a greater surface area.
Door Reinforcement Kit: These handy door reinforcement kits come packed with everything you need to reinforce the door frame and the door edge including an extra long strike plate and extra long screws as we mentioned above. This is the most expensive option but it is also the most inclusive to securing your door.
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! Here are 5 signs that you many need to change your lock.
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.
Best Standard Night Latch Lock: Choose a Yale 89 when buying a standard Night Latch. Prices range from £25-£30 for a Yale 80 Night Latch.
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.
Best Deadlocking Night Latch: One of the best deadlocking night latches on the market is the ERA 1830. Prices for the ERA 1830 Deadlocking Night Latch are around £75.
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.
Best Auto Deadlocking Night Latch: The best auto deadlocking night latch is the Yale no.1. These prices for this night latch range from £60-£80. Please note that these locks are less common to come by.
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.
Best Double Locking Night Latch: Yale 89 is one of the best double locking night latches. The price for these locks range from £25-£30.
- Standard and dead lock night latches require an additional mortice lock to comply with insurance companies and British Standards.
- Auto deadlocks meet requirements, only one keyhole.
- Double deadlock night latch is best as it requires a key to lock and unlock it from the inside and out.
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.
Best 5 Lever Mortice Lock: The best 5 lever mortice deadlock is the ERA Fortress. Prices range from £15-£25.
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.
Best 3 Lever Mortice Lock: The Union Strongbolt is the best option for this lock type. Prices range from £10-£20.
- 5 lever mortice lock is more secure than its 3 lever counterpart as there is less risk of keys being duplicated.
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. Read our guide on How to Change a uPVC Door Lock Cylinder here.
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.
Best Euro Cylinder: The Versa Euro is the best Euro Cylinder. You will pay around £10 for one of these.
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.
Best Thumb Turn Cylinder: Vera Thumb Turn is one of the best on the market for this lock type. Prices are around £10.
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.
Best Anti-Snap Lock: Choose either the Yale 1* or the ABS 3* for your new anti-snap lock. They range from around £30-£40.
- Upgrade your standard euro locks to anti-snap locks.
- Thumb turn cylinders are great for quick exits in an emergency but do not fit near a window where burglars can easily gain access.
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.
Best Multi-Point Locking System: There are many great brands to choose from for your multi-point locking system including Lockmaster, ERA, Maco, Millenco the list goes on. Prices for a multi-point locking system vary wildly but as a basis you’re looking to pay £150+.
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.
Door Security Tips
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.
Lock your Doors
Always remember to lock your door at night and when you leave the property. Lock your doors even whilst you’re at home during the day as some insurance companies still won’t pay out if you’re burgled whilst at home with unlocked doors. 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.
Choose a Door without Windows
Doors with windows may pose a security risk if the windows are in easy reach of the lock. Choosing a door without windows completely eradicates the risk of a burglar smashing the window and reaching for your locks. If you like the aesthetics and light that a window in the door brings ensure it is reinforced glass and as far away from the lock as possible.
Sliding doors are becoming more popular but all that glass poses a threat to your security. Ensure the glass is reinforced and consider putting up blinds or curtains to prevent burglars peeping in.
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!
To put it simply, you crank the thumb turn clockwise to lock and anti-clockwise to unlock the device. The mechanical reason is that when the thumb turn is turned, it activates a deadbolt that locks and unlocks the bathroom door from the inside.
The Anti Snap Locks are designed with stronger and harder sections that can resist with snapping off when any force is applied into it.
The double glazing is the best way to increase security to your patio door. Single glass doors provide easier access for intruders who can break in by smashing in; however, double glazed doors are tough and cannot be broken easily.
A mortice lock is usually used in external doors; however, some people like to use it for internal doors.