Upgrading your home’s security doesn’t have to involve major renovations — to start with, it can be as simple as evaluating your front door and making some small — but key — changes. There are several things you can do to make your home’s main entry point more secure.
Before you do anything else, assess your starting point. If your door is solid-core (more on that below), with windows that are far from your latches, you have a good start. Assess your lock and latches to make sure they’re working the way they should and not sticking or catching. If you already have a deadbolt, make sure that it slides closed securely. If your door is in good shape and functioning correctly, you’re most of the way there. If not, you may want to start by replacing locks or other basic parts.
Install a solid-core door
If you don’t have a solid-core door — meaning, a door that is filled with high-density engineered or composite wood, as opposed to being hollow — it’s worth investing in one. These are resistant to being bent or kicked in, making them more secure. To replace your door, you’ll need to measure its dimensions and make note of which direction it opens. Doors generally come in standard sizes, so once you have your measurements and the direction the door opens, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a replacement at a hardware store.
To make the swap, just unscrew the hinges from the door casing (bottom first, then top). Your new door likely came with hinges, but if not, you can use the ones from your old door if they’re in good shape. Screw the hinges into the door first; then, beginning with the top hinge, screw the other side of the hinge into the door casing. While you do this, you can use a shim or a piece of cardboard to keep the door at the right height to line up with the sill.
Add a good-quality deadbolt
To add a deadbolt, or replace one, the best choice is a grade 1 or 2 deadbolt. These ratings, made by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), are made by putting the deadbolts through various tests and giving them ratings based on the number of strikes they can withstand. ANSI grade 1 locks are the best you can buy, while grade 2 is generally considered acceptable for residential purposes.
Most doors come with cutouts that will accommodate a deadbolt, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need a hole saw bit, a paddle bit large enough to accommodate your deadbolt, a drill, a tape measure, a square, and a knife or awl to mark the centre of your holes. Your deadbolt kit will come with a template, so you’ll also need some masking tape for this part. Follow the directions on your deadbolt to install it, measuring to line it up with your template. It helps to drill the hole for the lock cylinder first, then drill your hole in the side of the door. That way, it’s easy to see how deep to make the deadbolt hole because it will intersect with the one you already drilled for the lock cylinder.
To make it simpler to get all the right sizes, you can opt for an install kit that comes with everything you’ll need to install a lock, as well as some instructions about placement and measuring.
More improvements you can make
If you want to go even further and more secure, you can add a chain to make it possible to open the door part way without allowing it to open fully, or you can use a doorbell camera to add a layer of security when answering the door. You can also consider upgrading to a keypad deadbolt that allows you to change the code periodically for added security.
Other things to make your front door safer are things like adding motion-sensor lighting; keeping hedges trimmed; or adding a smart lock, which will connect to your wireless devices, remote lock and unlock, and auto-lock behind you.