8 Ways to Secure a Door From Being Kicked In

Building up the strength and sturdiness of a door and its hardware can protect a home and its residents from those they'd prefer to keep out.
Meghan Wentland Avatar
How to Secure a Door From Being Kicked In

Photo: depositphotos.com

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A home’s doors—front, back, side, garage, and patio—are what stand between its residents and the outside world. And when a resident closes a door behind them, they expect that door to stay securely closed. Most criminals who want to get inside a 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. How many people know how to secure a door from being kicked in? By adding layers of security to the door, a home’s residents can make it much, much harder for intruders to successfully enter their personal domain.

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Before You Begin…

What supplies are needed 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 a resident can do, however, is secure doorframes around reinforced doors, add door-lock reinforcement, and include additional security features to avoid coming home to find their door kicked in.

It will likely be necessary to purchase some stronger hardware and perhaps even a new door, but the peace of mind that will come from knowing that the home is secure will be well worth it for a homeowner. They may also need some basic tools: screwdrivers and a drill will help install new hardware. Homeowners will want to be conscious of their timing as well; if they’re not confident that they’ll be able to finish a reinforcement project by the end of the day, they’ll want to wait to start until the next day or consider hiring a handyman to help. No homeowner wants to be caught in a position where they’re not finished, aren’t sure how to finish, and need to leave their 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 a homeowner begins the process of reinforcing the area surrounding the door, they’ll want to examine the door itself. If it’s a strong, solid-core door in excellent condition with no rot or rust, they’ll be able to secure the door by adding stronger hardware and other security features. If, however, the door is 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, the homeowner will want to invest in a new, sturdier door. The 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. A homeowner will want to measure the existing door carefully and decide whether they want to purchase the door itself or a pre-hung door already mounted in a frame. Pre-hung doors are easier to install, and the homeowner will also get a fresh doorframe for the installation of a deadbolt.

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STEP 2: Replace the deadbolt strike plate.

When the homeowner is happy with the strength of the door, it’s time for them to look at the hardware that secures it. A strong deadbolt lock is the linchpin of a secure entryway; the deadbolt will secure the door closed in its frame. If there isn’t a strong deadbolt in place already, homeowners will want to 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’s 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 homeowners 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.

Homeowners 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 not, homeowners will want to consider replacing the hinge with one that does. Regardless of which side of the door the hinges are on, homeowners will want to 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 a homeowner is keeping the existing hinges and simply replacing the screws, it’s a good idea for them 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 a door into the frame. But what about the frame itself? 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 expected. A homeowner 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, the door has a significant amount of glass or glass panes within reach of the lock, the homeowner will 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 the door, a homeowner 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 the homeowner is 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 for homeowners 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.

Renters who are concerned about apartment door security may have fewer options to secure their door; especially if the landlord won’t let them replace the deadbolt (or worse, they don’t have a deadbolt at all). An apartment may also have a flimsy hollow-core door that’s easier to break down than a stronger, solid entry door. Even homeowners who have a solid entry door may want more security if crime in their neighborhood has risen lately. One of the best door security bars or door barricades can add 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 has a homeowner driven back home after leaving to check that they remembered to lock the door, or called a neighbor or family member from vacation to ask them to check that the home was secure?

A smart lock offers several benefits to door security. First, it will allow the homeowner to check the status of their door lock from upstairs or their relaxing vacation spot via an app on their smartphone, so they can check to make sure they locked the door—and correct their error from afar if they didn’t. In addition, many smart locks feature an integrated doorbell camera, which will allow the user to see and possibly interact with anyone standing on the doorstep. A smart lock with a camera will give homeowners the opportunity to call authorities for help or warn the potential burglar off, even if they aren’t at home.

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STEP 8: Invest in a home security system.

Even if a homeowner or renter has followed all the steps and secured their door, it is still wise to invest in one of the best home security systems (such as one from Vivint or ADT). The visible signage and cameras that accompany a home security system can make the steps a resident has taken to secure the door itself redundant; many criminals will be deterred by security signs,  cameras, and other indications that monitoring is in place and won’t bother to try to break the 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 residents and their 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. For renters, the best apartment security systems (such as SimpliSafe) are options that can move from apartment to apartment with the renter and can be installed and removed without damaging the apartment walls.

A security system, whether monitored by the customer with their cell phone or by a professional who can call for help when the alarm is triggered, adds the strongest possible deterrence and protection of a home. Home security costs can be lower than a shopper thinks, and they may get a home insurance discount for having a security system in place, offsetting the initial cost of installation and equipment.

Securing a door against intruders doesn’t have to be a long or expensive project; residents may have to wait a few days or weeks if they 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 residents can feel safer in their home in just a few easy steps.