French Door Security Tips
The main reason many homeowners wants to install French doors, is the light they bring into the house. However, the warmer, more welcoming nature of French doors leads many to believe they are not as secure as conventional doors. This is simply not true.
Double glazed glass can be just as, if not more, secure than a cheap wooden door. In terms of locking mechanisms, there are just as many options available. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make sure your French doors are safe and secure and with that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to help.
Are French Doors Secure?
Whilst French doors can be a perfectly secure option, and is certainly more secure than sliding doors in most cases. A poorly installed French door will be a lot easier to break than a well installed French door. So, your first line of defence is making sure the installation goes well.
Whether you install the french doors yourself or you've hired a professional to do the job, there are a few key things to think about. Before you start looking to more elaborate and invasive measures, the first thing you should do is open and close your doors a few times. Make sure they are tight, stable and that there is minimal space between the bottom of your doors and the threshold.
Risks – The panels of glass that are the main reason many people choose French doors over sliding patio doors or traditional wooden doors could also be their greatest weakness. If your glass is reinforced and/or double glazed then this is less of an issue of course. Many opportunists could also exploit the divide between your doors.
Locks – Any exterior French doors should be installed with a decent, three-point locking mechanism. Otherwise they could quite easily be kicked or pried open with enough force. The hinges on your doors could also be unscrewed if they are not properly secured to the door frame. You’ll want to make sure you use screws that are at least 3 inches long to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Materials – We’ve already discussed how single pane glass can be easily broken to allow access. But most French door frames are made of wood and wood can also be broken. As such, the thicker the wood, the better. Of course, thicker wood will be more expensive, but it will also look more desirable and will better protect your home from the elements and intruders. So as far as we’re concerned, good quality wood is a crucial investment!
Increasing French Door Security
Protecting from potential burglary is no doubt the primary concern for most French door owners across the world. Especially those living in densely populated urban areas. Before you splash out on a bells and whistles security rig though, you’ll want to go through the “Are French Doors Secure?” section above. If nothing there makes you feel secure enough, you might want to consider a more thorough locking system.
Contact a local locksmith or even try giving your local police station a call and asking for advice! If even the best lock isn’t enough for you, you could also add window bars or a security bar. You can prop this between the floor and your doors at night to stop intruders. Some security bars also come with built-in alarms. The primary weak point of any French door will be the glass.
If double glazed glass isn’t enough for you, you can also opt for hurricane-rated laminated glass. We understand hurricanes are not exactly common in the UK, but this type of glass comes installed with an extra layer of plastic. Which is designed to withstand the impact of a hurricane. If it can withstand a force of that nature, it should be able to withstand a criminal’s fist! You could also opt for a steel frame, but this might look a little out of place in a quiet, residential area.
Finally, there are also unique security devices designed for French doors that you might want to investigate. These tend to closely resemble bike locks and can look a little imposing, but they are a good, affordable alternative to a full alarm system.
French Door Locks & Latches
There are two main types of lock that you’ll find installed in a typical pair of French doors. The most common is the classic top and bottom key operated 5 lever mortise lock, which will work in the same manner as the locks on your front door. These are rarely secure enough for many homeowners.
However, as the back of your home is less exposed than the front, an attempted break-in by intruders is more likely, especially during the day. This type of lock should be supplemented by mortise rack bolts or surface mounted locking bolts. They should always be fitted at a 90-degree angle to the grain of the wood, reducing the likelihood of the wood splitting under pressure.
As most French Doors are outward opening, the addition of hinge bolts is also recommended. If a standard mortise lock isn’t enough for your French doors, you might want to consider replacing it with a multi-point locking system. The second most common French door lock. This works in a similar manner to a mortise lock, but locks your door in multiple places. Of which all operate simultaneously with the turn of a single key.
Generally, many homeowners find that these common locks are simply not enough for full protection, so choose to fit extra locks. These security locks will either be push-to-lock devices or locks that when engaged, will activate a bolt to secure the French doors to the door frame.
French Door Alarms
The most obvious way to prevent burglary is to invest in an alarmed security system. Either for the rear of your home or a security system that covers your entire house. This can be expensive and inconvenient, but it all depends on your own personal circumstances.
If you think it’s necessary, then it probably is. Full security systems are very costly, so we’re going to provide a few less invasive options. A great option would be a vibration sensitive alarm, which will stop any potential forced entry before it even begins. These alarm sensors can be easily installed on the glass panes of your French doors and will alert you with a chime if anyone tries to force entry.
There are also door wedge alarms to consider. These can simply be wedged under your French doors and they will be set off if the doors move from the pressurised trigger. Think of it like the trap at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark! Many modern security alarms can even be managed from your smartphone for extra convenience.
Security Screens for French Doors
Whilst domestic shutters, screens and grills can look ugly, they can always be removed. They are a great last line of defence against intruders. French door security grills can generally be pulled back when not in use.
They are unobtrusive and easy to install and if you install them smartly, security screens can be hidden when not in use with curtains or blinds. Screens are easily the most cost-effective option. Though they are also the least effective, compared to the more effective but more expensive security grill.
I know there have been a few scary moments here, but hopefully, we haven’t put you off installing French doors in your home. We hope you have instead been calmed by the fact that there are so many options available to you when it comes to securing your home. Whilst always keeping it beautiful, light and inviting.