Security Doors For The Home

Peace of mind when at home or away is a high priority for most people.

With concern over home invasion robberies in residential neighborhoods of more and more communities, home security measures are becoming more and more commonplace. There are, of course, different ways of improving the security against intrusion but reviewing just how secure one’s home really is often leads to consideration for installing a security door.
There are two primary options are that may be contenders for your home. First, replacement of existing doors, installing higher quality, more robust doors with locks that are more difficult to force open, and even the installation of security devices, and the second option is the addition of a security door to complement the existing exterior door.
The first consideration for replacement of an existing door is the physical size of the door. Additional to measuring the height and width of the door is the thickness. The height and width are important because you may have a standard size door, or you may have a custom (meaning non-standard) size door. The thickness is important because you may be dealing with a straightforward, easy replacement, or maybe not. Measuring the depth of the door frame is also important. The other key consideration is making sure you purchase a door that opens the same way, meaning the hinges are on the same side, as the existing door. Most security doors are not reversible.
Typical standard exterior door sizes are 36” x 80” x 1.75” thick, 32” x 80”, and 30” x 80”. 80” is, of course 6 feet 8 inches, but older properties may have doors that are not so tall, and so finding a replacement door may not be easy. If you have a non-standard door size – height or width – consideration of the addition of a ‘secondary’ security door to complement the existing exterior door might be the best option.

‘Secondary’ Security Door

A security door which is external to which complements the existing exterior door – a ‘secondary’ security door – offers a big advantage over a replacement door when faced with a non-standard size. The ‘secondary’ door – which is actually the primary security door – does not have to fit inside the door frame but rather is secured onto the outside face of the door frame. This offers the option of having a security door with a width that is slightly wider than the existing door. The externally mounted ‘secondary security door’ will come with its own metal frame, the exterior width of which could be as much as from outside edge to outside edge of the existing door frame. However, it is best if the inside width of the frame is close to the same as the existing door frame because, as one can see in the inset picture of the openings for the door handle and lock, if the exterior door frame on the door opening side is not aligned with the inside edge of the existing door frame, opening and closing the security door can be made difficult. This is particularly true with a standard doorknob, one that you wrap your hand around, grip and turn. Choosing a lever-style door handle is often better than a doorknob.
Another important consideration (and measurement) is the measurement of the height from the floor of the door hardware on the outside of the existing external door. Having this measurement is key to making sure the security door you are purchasing has door hardware openings that are either higher (above) or lower (below) than the existing door’s hardware.If you opt for a ‘secondary’ security door to complement the existing exterior door, you have a choice of either a solid door or a door that provides for ventilation, meaning its construction is essentially a frame with wrought iron bars – which can be constructed in attractive, ornate designs – and a perforated screen which is attached on the inside of the door. The two types of perforated screen are a drilled or punched screen and an expanded metal screen. Drilled and punched screens offer the option of patterns whereas as expanded metal screens are typically a matrix of diamond-shaped holes.

Screen Doors Versus Security Doors

From a first glance, Screen Doors and Security Doors may appear to be the same thing, and essentially, they are. The key difference, however, is the level of security that is provided. A screen door, which is primarily intended to provide ventilation and keep flying insects from entering an open door, will most likely be made from aluminum or plastic, and for the intended purpose of being a bug screen, they are fine, but even when fitted with a lock, only a low level of security against a home invasion and robbery is provided.

Installation

While an experienced craftsman or handyman should have no difficulty installing a security door, there are a couple of things the DIY person needs to plan for. The first is the type of screws or bolts that are used to install the security door. Any screw or bolt that is used to secure the door needs to be secure and of the type that cannot be undone from the outside. This means that screw heads and bolt heads need to be concealed or they need to be of a type that cannot be undone and removed using simple screwdrivers or wrenches. Coach bolts are one type of such a solution. Coach bolts do not have a slot or a head that can be gripped; they have a round, mushroom-shaped head and the upper part of the shank is square. They are intended to be installed in a square hole, which can be a round hole that has been made square using a file, and the securing nut is on the inside rather than being on the outside of the door.

The second type of security bolt is also known as a ‘one-way screw’. As shown in the picture, the screw head has a modified slot that allows the screw to be screwed in, but not easily unscrewed. However, a hacksaw or a metal cutting blade attachment to a power drill can often be used to cut a slot in the head allowing a standard screwdriver to be used to remove them. Also, even simple tools like a pair of pliers, locking grips, an electric drill, a center punch and even a modified dinner fork, these screws can be often be removed.

Double Doors

An additional consideration regarding installation is appearance, especially when installing a security door on front doors. It may be that the front door of your home is in fact plural; front doors, meaning you have a double door. Your options for double security door designs are probably no less varied than those for standard, single security doors, but the aesthetics of replacing the existing double doors might be more persuasive than installing ‘secondary’ security doors, and given the level of investment involved including consideration of the impact of such doors on the market value of the home, professional installation might well be a wise choice for most people. Even if replacement of the door frame and molds are involved, professional installation will generally be the smarter decision because, while comparing the costs of different options is important, equally important, if not more important, is the appearance of the new doors.

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