8 Ways to Secure a Door From Being Kicked In

Building up the strength and sturdiness of your door and its hardware can protect your home and family from those you’d prefer to keep out.

By Meghan Wentland | Updated Mar 24, 2022 6:10 PM

How to Secure a Door From Being Kicked In

Photo: depositphotos.com

Your doors—front, back, side, garage, and patio—are what stand between you and the outside world. Sometimes opening them to let the light stream in feels great, but when you close them behind you, you expect them to stay securely closed. Most criminals who want to get inside your home won’t take the time to carefully pick a deadbolt lock—they’ll break the glass and reach in or just kick the door in. The fact of the matter is that if someone really wants to get in, they will try very hard to do so. Do you know how to secure a door from being kicked in? By adding layers of security to your door you can make it much, much harder for intruders to successfully enter your personal domain.

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Before You Begin…

What will you need to create a truly kick-proof door? Doors have leverage points, so it’s very difficult to make one completely impossible to force open. What you can do, however, is secure doorframes around reinforced doors, add door-lock reinforcement, and include additional security features to avoid coming home to find your door kicked in.

You’ll likely need to purchase some stronger hardware and perhaps even a new door, but the peace of mind that will come from knowing that your home is secure will be well worth it. You may also need some basic tools: screwdrivers and a drill will help install new hardware. Be conscious of your timing as well; if you’re not confident that you’ll be able to finish a reinforcement project by the end of the day, wait to start until the next day, or consider hiring a handyman to help. You don’t want to be caught in a position where you’re not finished, aren’t sure how to finish, and need to leave your door unsecured overnight.

How to Secure a Door From Being Kicked In

Photo: depositphotos.com

STEP 1: Replace your door with a sturdier one.

Before you begin the process of reinforcing the area surrounding your door, examine the door itself. If it’s a strong, solid-core door in excellent condition with no rot or rust, you’re in luck; you’ll be able to secure your door by adding stronger hardware and other security features. If, however, you have a builder-grade hollow core door or a lightweight decorative door, or the areas where the locks, handles, and hinges connect are soft or rusting, it’s time to invest in a new door. Your existing one will be too easy to kick in regardless of how strong the lock is.

The strongest doors are generally solid wood or steel, but there are some very sturdy fiberglass doors, some with wood cores, that offer a little more style. These doors will present a real challenge to anyone trying to kick in the door and will hold firmly to upgraded locks and hardware. You’ll want to measure the existing door carefully and decide whether you want to purchase the door itself or a pre-hung door already mounted in a frame. Pre-hung doors are easier to install, and you’ll also get a fresh doorframe for the installation of a deadbolt.

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STEP 2: Replace the deadbolt strike plate.

When you’re happy with the strength of the door, it’s time to look at the hardware that you’re using to secure it. A strong deadbolt lock is the linchpin of a secure entryway; the deadbolt will secure the door closed in its frame. If you don’t have a strong deadbolt in place already, choose one of the best door locks with an ANSI rating of 2 or 1. The ANSI rating measures how much force a deadbolt can withstand before it bends or breaks. A lock with an ANSI rating of 2 can withstand five strikes of 75 pounds of force before giving way, so an intruder would have to make a tremendous amount of attention-grabbing noise to get in.

Replacing a deadbolt isn’t hard. But the fact is, the deadbolt is only as strong as the plate the bolt is thrown into. The strongest lock won’t hold if the steel bolt slides into a plain hole bored into a wood doorframe; the wood will splinter and break apart long before the lock fails. The key to maximizing the protection of the lock is to upgrade the strike plate. The strike plate is a metal piece that is screwed into the doorframe to receive the bolt when the lock is turned. A basic strike plate can look like a flat piece of metal (usually steel or brass) that fits into the doorframe with an opening in the center to receive the bolt. The plate is secured into the doorframe with screws. This style of strike plate is better than plain wood, but you can easily upgrade the plate to a style with a longer box (sometimes called a box strike) so the bolt can fit more deeply into the doorframe, or a style that completely surrounds the entire bolt with metal, making it very, very difficult to break through the surrounding frame. Changing the strike plate is a manageable DIY deadbolt reinforcement project for handy homeowners, and the most difficult part is making sure the new plate aligns correctly with the bolt.

You can further secure the strike plate by replacing the screws that hold it in place with longer ones. The farther into the frame the screws travel, the harder it is to bend or break them out.

How to Secure a Door From Being Kicked In

Photo: depositphotos.com

STEP 3: Secure the door’s hinges.

Once the deadbolt is secure, the next-weakest spot on the door is the hinge. If the door’s hinges are on the outside of the door, a burglar only needs to pop the pin out of the hinge to gain access to the home. Most outdoor hinges are fitted with a hinge bolt that prevents this; if yours does not, consider replacing the hinge with one that does. Regardless of which side of the door your hinges are on, consider replacing the screws that secure the hinges to the doorframe with longer, larger screws than the basic ones that may have been provided with the hinge. If the hinges feel flimsy, it may be worth it to simply replace the whole hinge. These screws should be at least 2½ inches long to fully secure the hardware.

If you’re keeping your existing hinges and simply replacing the screws, it’s a good idea to remove one screw at a time and replace it before moving on to the next one. Hinges can be tricky to align properly, and removing one screw at a time will keep the hinge locked in place.

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STEP 4: Reinforce the doorframe.

Replacing the strike plate and hinge screws goes a long way toward securing your door into the frame. But what about the frame? A standard wood doorframe—especially one that has been exposed to the elements for years—may not hold up long to repeated kicking or shoulder blows. Once an experienced burglar realizes that the lock and hinge are secure, the next target will be the frame itself, which may splinter or break away from the doorjamb more easily than you’d expect. You can replace the frame with a harder wood species that is less prone to splitting, or choose a product specifically intended to strengthen doorframes. Several companies produce a metal product designed for doorframe reinforcement that integrates into the look of the doorframe and provides protection from twisting, warping, or splitting when under pressure.

STEP 5: Reinforce any glass in the door.

Many beautiful doors include decorative or functional glass panes to let in light. Security doors typically do not, or feature small glass panes. If, however, your door has a significant amount of glass or glass panes within reach of the lock, you’ll need to add security features to the glass. There are a few options, one of which is to add steel security bars to the glass panes. These can be decorative in appearance and affix firmly to the door to prevent an arm from snaking through broken glass to flip the lock open. Another option is to add security film to the glass. Similar to the coating applied to car windows to render them shatterproof, clear vinyl security film will bond with the glass. If a burglar smashes the glass, the vinyl film will hold it together in its shattered state and make it difficult (or painful) for the intruder to get through.

If neither of these options will work on your door, you may consider choosing a double-cylinder deadbolt. While a standard single-cylinder lock opens with a key from the outside and uses a flip lever to unlock from the inside, a double-cylinder requires a key to unlock from either side, so even if a burglar smashes the glass and reaches in to the lock, they won’t be able to actually open the door. If you’re less concerned with how to create an anti-kick door and more worried about how to keep someone from unlocking a door, this is a great option. Many people with younger children find that this style of lock adds peace of mind, as the door can’t be accidentally (or intentionally) opened by a curious child. However, it’s important to make sure that all of the responsible residents and guests of the home know where to locate the key; otherwise, a double-cylinder lock can be dangerous in a fire or other emergency.

How to Secure a Door From Being Kicked In

Photo: istockphoto.com

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STEP 6: Get a door barricade or security bar.

Perhaps you’re a renter and your landlord won’t let you replace the deadbolt (or worse, you don’t have a deadbolt at all). You may have a flimsy hollow-core door. Or maybe you own your home and have a solid entry door, but crime in your neighborhood has risen and you want an additional layer of security. A door barricade or security bar adds that extra layer. Door barricades screw into the floor near the door. When not enabled, they are flush with the floor and unobtrusively out of the way. When engaged, they protrude from the floor near the door and prevent the door from opening past the barricade. They are low-profile and exceptionally strong. Other versions of door barricades include door jammers, which fit snugly underneath the handle of the door and brace against the floor with a rubber foot, providing pressure against the door and the floor if the door is forced open. Door jammers have the benefit of being easily installed and removed, and they can also be helpful when traveling. A security bar is a metal piece that is installed across the full width of a doorframe. When it is secured at both ends, it makes a door virtually impossible to open.

These options have the benefit of being quick and easy to install and extremely secure. They are also removable, and therefore ideal for renters who don’t have a lot of other options if the landlord isn’t willing to install a reinforced front door.

STEP 7: Get a smart lock.

One of the most critical steps in securing a door is locking it. This seems obvious, of course, but how often have you driven back home after leaving to check that you remembered to lock the door, or called a neighbor or family member from vacation to ask them to check that your home was secure? A smart lock offers several benefits to door security. First, it will allow you to check the status of your door lock from upstairs or your relaxing vacation spot via an app on your smartphone, so you can check to make sure you locked the door—and correct your error from afar if you didn’t. In addition, many smart locks feature an integrated doorbell camera, which will allow you to see and possibly interact with anyone standing on your doorstep. A smart lock with a camera will give you the opportunity to call authorities for help or warn the potential burglar off, even if you aren’t at home.

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STEP 8: Invest in a home security system.

You’ve followed all the steps and secured your door-—why do you need one of the best home security systems? The visible signage and cameras that accompany a home security system can make the steps you’ve taken to secure the door itself redundant; many criminals will be deterred by the cameras and other indications that monitoring is in place and won’t bother to try to break your door down in the first place. The motion sensor lighting that is part of many systems will alert and draw attention to anyone looking to break in, letting you and your neighbors know there’s someone closer to the house than they should be. Bright lights and a piercing siren that can be triggered by a door sensor are great motivation for anyone with ill intent to move away quickly. If you’re a renter, the best apartment security systems are options that can move from apartment to apartment with you and can be installed and removed without damaging your home. A security system, whether monitored by you with your cell phone or by a professional who can call for help when the alarm is triggered, adds the strongest possible deterrence and protection of your home. The cost of many systems can be lower than you think, and you may get a discount on your homeowners or renters insurance if you have a security system in place, offsetting the initial cost of installation and equipment.

Securing your door against intruders doesn’t have to be a long or expensive project; you may have to wait a few days or weeks if you need to order a new door or wait for security system installation, but the rest of the steps can be easily completed in just a few hours by most homeowners. Knowing how to reinforce a door—and knowing that it’s not an onerous task that requires in-depth knowledge or lots of expensive labor—means you can feel safer in your home in just a few easy steps.