3 Smart Ways to Upgrade Your Entry Door in a Weekend

Now's the perfect time to give your entryway a new look, greater functionality, and enhanced security. What are you waiting for?

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Upgrading Your Door in One Weekend
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Inspired by the budding greenery and aided by the warmer temperatures, homeowners inevitably get the urge to spruce things up outdoors at the first signs of spring. Well, you don’t need to spend much time at all give your home’s curb appeal a boost! In fact, you can get going on it in one short weekend by focusing on the front entry. Especially if you haven’t given yours any thought since you moved in, now’s the time to make this project a priority. A revamped front entrance does double duty, enhancing both the appearance and the security of your house.

Think about it: With your busy schedule and all the comings and goings that warmer weather will bring, your entry door is bound to see lots of action as friends, family, and, of course, delivery people beat a path to your door. And as the weather gets warmer, you are also, unfortunately, more likely to encounter unsavory characters on your doorstep; according to FBI stats, property crime peaks in the summer. Making your front entry more secure now will give you a little peace of mind when spring break or summer vacation rolls around. If you’re still not sold on the idea, note that a well-insulated, solid front door can also optimize energy efficiency, so it’s a wise move to replace a door before temperatures really rise.

While I’ve always been a proponent of entryway upgrades in early spring, I’m even more eager to recommend them this year, thanks to new and innovative smart systems that offer enhanced convenience, improved security, and easy installation. Keep reading to learn how homeowners can improve their front door in just one weekend.

Upgrading Your Entry Door in One Weekend
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Start with a strong, attractive door. 

The door itself will be your first decision, so shop for one that checks all the boxes: strength, security, style, and energy efficiency (a well-insulated Energy Star model can potentially reduce energy bills). Although wood entry doors are traditional, fiberglass has been gaining popularity. It’s less expensive, low maintenance, and incredibly durable, resistant to rot, dents, and cracks. Plus, fiberglass is available in a huge array of styles and finishes, so you’re sure to find a door that perfectly suits your home. Of course, if security is your prime objective, you can’t beat a steel door, which will not only deter intruders but also withstand fire and moisture.

Invest in hard-working, high-tech hardware. 

Once you’ve selected a sturdy door, the key to home security is “picking” the right lock—one that has a reinforced strike plate and deadbolt (so called because the locking bolt has to be turned manually, either via a key or a knob). There are several types of deadbolts to choose from, ranging from single cylinder to jimmy-proof vertical locks.

A decade ago, a quality lock would have been the best you could do, but today you can increase security and convenience in high-tech ways. For example, a smart lock with Key by Amazon will enhance deadbolt performance by using your home’s Wi-Fi network to communicate with your smartphone, tablet, or PC. In short, it gives you total control over your home’s security, 24/7, wherever you may be. Benefits include:

  • Keyless entry. Never worry about forgetting your keys again! You can get into your home with digital entry—a blessing if you go for a jog without your keys, or if your hands are too full to get to the key to unlock the door.
  • Temporary and recurring access codes. These digital keys grant entrance to expected visitors when you’re not home, with none of the risks associated with having “extra” keys floating around. Access codes let maintenance workers, pet sitters, and other service folks come and go as needed. You may even be able to have Amazon deliveries placed inside your home instead of left outside unattended (a perk available in certain areas).
  • Real-time notifications. Even when you’re not home, you’ll know who is coming and going, and you can even see into the house if you set up a coordinating camera inside your entryway.
  • Voice-control activation. Key by Amazon Smart Locks integrate seamlessly with other Amazon assistant products, including the Echo Dot and Echo Show, so you can use your assistant to answer the door if you have your hands full at the very moment when guests arrive.

In my opinion, Key by Amazon Smart Lock Kits offer a potent combination of security and smarts. In one package, you get a superior smart lock (developed in conjunction with one of the most trusted brands in the business) as well as a 1080p HD Amazon Cloud Cam—a winning combination. The free-to-download Key by Amazon mobile app manages it all. Whenever the door opens, the app links motion-activated camera clips from inside your home’s entryway with the log of lock and unlock events so you can replay any particular event in the app.

Upgrading Your Entry Door in One Weekend
Photo: amazon.com

Don’t forget the doorbell.

If you’re still operating with a standard wired doorbell, you may have no idea how the options have changed since I got into home remodeling decades ago! These days, the right doorbell has the potential to revolutionize your home security.

As part of your entryway makeover, harness these technological improvements by updating to the rechargeable battery-operated Ring Doorbell 2. This versatile video doorbell does more than simply notify you that someone is at the door. It lets you see, hear, and converse with guests from wherever you happen to be, using your smartphone, tablet, or PC. The system is motion-activated, so you’ll know that visitors have arrived before they even ring the bell. This feature transforms what has historically been merely an amplified knocker into a 1080p HD outdoor security camera. You can check your property at any time, day or night, with live on-demand video as well as recorded footage.

Upgrading Your Entry Door in One Weekend
Photo: amazon.com

Install in a weekend. 

If all this sounds great, it gets even better when you realize that the average DIYer should be able to install a new front door and sync up the electronics in just a day. (After all, you don’t want a hole in the front of your home for much longer than that!)

Most standard doors are compatible with Key by Amazon, as long as they are between 1⅜ and 2 inches thick,  have a separate handle and lock (in other words, not an attached unit), and a standard rectangular deadbolt. Start by selecting an appropriate prehung door in your material and style of choice. (With a prehung door,  you won’t be stuck cutting hinge mortises to fit the door into an existing jamb.) While the new door will come with detailed instructions to guide you, installation basically involves removing the old door, threshold, and door jambs and then fitting the new prehung door into the framing between the studs, with the header above it. The door is then leveled, plumbed, and shimmed, and finally fastened into place. Just be sure to measure precisely! Shim too much on one side, for instance, and you could put the jamb out of square. If the installation process sounds a little too intense for you, go ahead and hire a professional for the afternoon.

Upgrading Your Entry Door in One Weekend
Photo: amazon.com

Once your door is good to go, installing the Key by Amazon Smart Lock Kit (which includes the smart lock, the Cloud Cam, and the mobile app) is a snap. Start by downloading the Key by Amazon mobile app, which will provide step-by-step instructions for installing the compatible smart lock and bringing it online. Then, set up the Cloud Cam inside your home, facing the door and within 25 feet of the smart lock. If you have an Echo Spot or Echo Show device, you’ll no doubt want to add voice control to the lock. To do this, simply enable the Key by Amazon skill in the Amazon Alexa mobile app, which you will have downloaded for these other devices, and you’ll be able to call out commands when you’re too busy to come to the door. (“Alexa, unlock my front door.”)

Finally, connect the Key by Amazon with a Ring doorbell. Just charge and insert the battery, attach the unit to the outside wall beside the front door, snap on the faceplate that best complements the exterior of your house, and tighten the security screws. The Key by Amazon and the Ring doorbell are newly integrated, which means you can access the Ring camera view and let guests in via the Key by Amazon app.

All Key by Amazon and Ring products are available for purchase on Amazon. Get them with free two-day shipping, and you can complete your upgrade this very weekend. You’ll feel proud of your spiffed-up entrance—and safer!—for years to come.

This article has been brought to you by Amazon. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.