Hinges, locks, and the strike plates where the locks ‘catch’ on the frame are the most vulnerable parts. A basic thing everyone should do is replace the tiny half-inch screws holding those components in place with stronger 3-inch screws.
Beyond that, there are kits that replace the basic factory hardware with materials and designs that are much harder to defeat yet don’t require major or ugly modification to your home. You might buy just one piece, such as a strike plate, or an overall kit that replaces all of the core points at once.
Some people want to take it a step further by adding extra barriers, such as crossbars or the kind of flip-over locks you see in hotel rooms. Although these tools depend on the extra step of you actually engaging them once inside, they can take your door security from ‘pretty good’ to ‘really good’ without making your home look like a fortress from the outside.
Based on personal experience and additional research for this review, we recommend picking from the following options.
Complete door hardening kits:
- Door Armor MAX. Includes a 46-inch security strike plate, door shield, and hinge shields.
- Door Armor Mini. Similar to the Door Armor MAX but does not include the hinge shields.
- Door Devil Door Security Kit. Includes a large security strike plate, door shield, and hinge shield.
Opening and lock reinforcements:
- Armor Concepts Fix-A-Jamb. Large 40-inch security strike plate.
- Defender Security Lock Reinforcer. Reinforces the areas around your lock and latch.
- Defender Security Strike Plate. Consolidates standard latch and deadbolt strike plates so you have a larger piece of metal to work with. Includes 3-inch wood screws.
- Armor Concepts Hinge Shield. Screws over existing door hinges.
Security bars and barriers:
- Buddybar Door Jammer. Security bar that doesn’t require any modifications to the door. Good for travelers, renters, and students.
- Defender Security Reinforcement Lock. Barrier-style lock that attaches to your door frame. When you are home, you turn the lock to keep your door from being forced open.
- Door Bull. Consists of hooks on the door and the frame with a large plate that connects to both. When the plate is in place, the door can’t be opened.
- HavenLock. Attaches to the floor with a wedge to block the door opening. Some models can connect to smartphone apps.
- Nightlock Security Barricade. Attaches to the floor in front of the door, and has a removable shield that prevents your door from being forced open.
Reinforcing the door opening
Where the door knobs/locks actually meet and hold onto the surrounding frame is a great place to start.
Deadbolts are stronger than locks built into the knob you normally use to open/close the door. Most front doors come with deadbolts, but if your other exterior doors don’t have them, it’s worth it to add them. Basic metal deadbolts cost between $10 and $50. Electronic and smart home options retail from $50 to $250.
Strike plates are attached to the door frame in the area where the doorknob and deadbolt “strike” the frame. Your doors probably have a small standard strike plate for each latch. If someone is trying to kick down your door, all of that force is going through the lock and into that small piece of hardware. Even if you’ve upgraded the screws holding the catch so that it doesn’t rip out of the wood as easily, there are still limitations to what that small amount of metal can do.
Reinforced strike plates spread the incoming force over a much larger surface area with more screws. The larger the strike plate and/or the more screw attachments it has, the harder it is to break off the frame.
You may see these labeled as “jamb” protection. Some of those larger jamb shields have pre-cut holes you punch out to fit over where your existing latches would catch. A simple strike plate can cost $10. A strike plate system like the Door Armor Max includes a strike plate, door shields, and hinge guards for around $100.
Door guards / shields are a great compliment to security strike plates. While strike plates live on the door frame, door guards live on the door itself. Door guards add strength to areas around your doorknob and door latch to make sure the door stays firmly closed. Without them, if an intruder gets a lot of force against the door but the jamb/strike plate are immovable, that force might follow the path of least resistance and blow out the locking rod from the door itself.
Amazon sells some generic door guards for around $15, and those should work well for most people. Strike plate kits also often come with door guards.
Reinforcing the hinges
Because you likely already have three hinges with multiple screws each, that area is inherently stronger than a basic strike plate. But once the strike/latch areas are secure, the next vulnerability is where the door’s mounted to the frame.
Hinge guards can hold hinges in place even while someone is kicking or hitting a door. They’re almost invisible when the door is closed. Hinge guards can be purchased as a stand alone item from Armor Concepts or as part of one of their door enhancement packages.
Door barriers and security bars
There’s a wider range of options for creating an extra physical barrier that prevents the door from swinging even if the mounting and latching hardware is defeated. They might attach to the door, frame, floor, or be completely removable.
Swing bar locks are one of the door barrier devices people are most familiar with because they’re commonly found in hotel rooms. With a swing bar installed, you can crack the door and see who’s there without risking a home invasion. Swing bar locks cost about $20.
Some modern takes on that classic mount in the same position but use a flip-out paddle or similar mechanism that doesn’t leave as much ‘slack’ to crack open the door. This video shows how the Defender option works:
Door barricades are typically larger, more obvious options. They attach either to the floor or to the door and frame. There’s a range of how they operate — a wedge on a hinge, a pin, a sliding plate, etc — but the basic concept is the same.
Door bars are like propping a chair under a doorknob. These braces require zero modification to your existing home, so they’re great for renters or those who want to keep it simple. You just place the device between your door and floor, then tighten until it’s secure.