French doors are a classic entryway that maximizes natural light and dress up an otherwise simple entryway. This classic style has been beloved for years, especially for patio or deck entrances. French doors have glass panels that run the full length of the door. They are hinged and can swing either inside or outside. Usually, they are double doors. In some cases, French doors can even add value to your home.
Unfortunately, French doors are among the most vulnerable to break-ins due to the glass panels. However, there are several ways to secure your French doors and protect your home.
What makes French doors more susceptible to break-ins?
French doors’ most beloved and defining feature, glass panes along the length of the door, pose a security risk. First of all, potential burglars can peer inside to determine whether anyone is home. Secondly, the glass in most French doors is very fragile, so a burglar can simply kick the glass in to gain entry. Finally, most French doors are installed in pairs. The divide between the two doors is another potential weakness – because they latch against each other and not a door jamb, the latches and even bolts holding the fixed door can be pried apart more easily.
How to secure French doors from burglars
- Permanently lock one door
Most French double doors allow for one door to be fixed closed and one or both doors to swing. Locking the barrel bolts that hold one door fixed in place will ensure that burglars have a much more difficult time prying the doors open. The downside of this method is that you’ll need to screw the bolts in place, meaning that you’ll have to remove screws in order to open the door. While safer, this method isn’t convenient for homeowners who want to enjoy opening both doors.
- Reinforce the doors with a metal bar
Wedging a security bar against the fixed door will keep it from moving under pressure. However, this is clunky and obvious, detracting from the classic beauty of the French doors. Plus, it will only work if you remember to set the bar.
- Add security bars over the window panes
Security bars will protect the glass from being kicked in or removed. However, these can be even more unsightly than the metal security bar, and do nothing to reinforce the glass itself. All the solutions so far including security bars may offer more protection from burglars but will do nothing to help with natural elements or wind damage.
- Look into reinforced materials and hardware
Traditional glass doors, especially in older homes, are typically made from wood or hollow-core materials. The hinges are often screwed in with screws less than 1 ½ inches in length, making the hinges easier to pry off. Heavier doors will be more tamper-proof, and longer screws (at least 2 ½ inches) will make it more difficult to pry off the hinges. Additionally, the deadbolt on the door should be replaced with one that sinks at least an inch into the fixed door.
- Install thicker glass
Again, the thicker the glass, the more secure. Hurricane-rated impact glass is shatterproof and designed to withstand extreme hurricane-force winds and projectiles.
- Replace traditional French doors with impact French doors
Instead of making several tweaks to your existing doors, consider installing impact French doors . Impact doors are much heavier than traditional exterior doors and have several benefits. In addition to near-total protection from hurricanes and other storms, they are energy efficient, noise resistant, and provide great protection against home invaders. Residential impact doors are made from fiberglass and wood and reinforced with composite materials. They are held in place with heavy-duty frames, hinges, gaskets, and thresholds. Impact doors come with weatherstrips to keep the ran and noise out. The glass windows in our French doors are missile-tested and can protect against winds of up to 175 mph.