How to Improve Your Front Door Security

front door

Building moats was a booming business back when kings and queens needed front door security. Presidents, prime ministers, and other VIPs use armed guards to thwart intruders. The rest of us? We’re left wondering whether our moatless, unguarded front doors are secure enough.

It’s an important question. On the list of homeowner concerns, door security may not have the immediacy of rain pouring in through a hole in the roof or an unexpected invasion of ants or termites, but it should rank up there with those worries.

So let’s evaluate whether your door is secure enough and, if not, what to do about it.  

Age is the Enemy of Strong Doors and Locks

Is your front door showing its age? Is it cracking or showing signs of rusting around the hinges?

Strong entryways have to be intact and cannot show the ravages of time and weather. Many doors on the market are hollow, meant more for interior spaces than to be used as a front door. Some doors manufactured in the 20th Century also were hollow, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, but on older homes, and on many newer ones, the original door is likely to be solid.

As such, the solid door is likely to provide more security.

The Frame is the Backbone of Door Security

The door is not necessarily the most significant factor in providing security.

If your front door is attached to an aged or badly weathered door frame, the frame can be the weak link. The weather and the constant swinging in and out as family and friends enter and exit can degrade the frame, which often is attached to the door by just a few screws.

If you are going to replace the door, be sure to upgrade by replacing the frame as well. Failing that, you could keep the door but rebuild the door frame, replacing well-worn materials that can be half a century old with something more solid. The best thing to do is to use longer screws, 3 inches or so, to make the frame’s attachment to the house as firm as possible.

And the frame, new or old, can be strengthened by installing a door jamb reinforcement kit. That will make the door more difficult to wrench out of place.

Best Doors Materials

Most doors primarily are made of one of three substances, wood, steel, fiberglass, or a combination of one or more. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.


wood door
Photo Credit: CynthiaAnnF / Canva Pro / License

Over time, wooden doors have been the most eye-catching. But wood doesn’t have the ability to stay intact the way steel or fiberglass does.

For one thing, wooden doors tend to look their best when paired with glass panes or decorative and stained glass. And glass breaks, weakening the overall security a wood door provides.

Still, wood is a reasonably good option if the wood is solid and not hollow. When paired with a peephole camera and perhaps smaller plain glass or stained glass and attached with a deadbolt and jamb reinforcement.


  • Wood is attractive and works well with traditional homes.
  • Wood doors hold their beauty over time because they weather well.
  • Solid wood doors are strong.
  • Solid wooden doors reduce sound well.
  • They can be cut, and sanded to fit the available space.


  • They require significant maintenance.
  • They are not as energy efficient as some other doors.
  • Wood doors tend to require more maintenance, although the maintenance on wood is easier than on steel or fiberglass.


steel door
Photo Credit: Pixnio

If security is your primary consideration, steel is a great option. Steel doors respond well to blunt force, such as being kicked or bashed. They often dent rather than splintering or giving way, which is wood’s response to being attacked.

And steel doors aren’t necessarily as austere and plain Jane as they sound. You can get them with an embossed textured surface that mimics the look of wooden doors. They also won’t warp in cold, wet conditions like other doors.


  • Steel doors can generally be breached only with special tools.
  • Most steel doors are drill- and saw-proof.
  • Manufacturers are coming out with ever-better designs to suit your aesthetic.
  • They are very energy efficient.


  • They can dent and rust.
  • Steel doors can’t be trimmed, which is a problem when trying to upgrade an odd-sized existing door.


fiberglass door
Photo Credit: ntm1909 / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Generally, the third option for the creation of doors, fiberglass has some real, and literal, strengths. The better fiberglass doors come with a reinforced lock area, making the area that would most likely be attacked that much stronger.

When kicked or rammed, they don’t dent or ding. When it rains or snows, there isn’t any rust like you’d get with steel, or rot, which can come with wood. When heavy force is applied, there can be some cracking or splitting, but fiberglass won’t splinter like wooden doors might.

At the same time, while fiberglass doors generally are more expensive than either wood or steel, they can be painted or tricked out with a wood or wood-stained look to appeal to the designer in you.

And a fiberglass door without windows can be three times more energy efficient than similar wooden doors. Over the long term, they can cost less because of that energy savings.


  • Fiberglass doors are low maintenance
  • They can mimic the look of wood without any of the drawbacks.
  • Fiberglass doors won’t expand or contract in temperature extremes.


  • If cheaply made, fiberglass doors can crack in cold weather.
  • They are expensive relative to steel and wood doors. 
  • While generally strong, fiberglass doors can be broken a bit more easily than steel or solid wood doors.

The Importance of Having a View

The downside of having a solid front door is that you don’t have the ability to see who’s come calling. The best way around this without going to glass panes is a peephole. Most new doors come with one or can easily have one added.

Potential miscreants don’t much like peepholes. They can’t see in, and they know you can use it to see them. There’s a great reduction in their ability to surprise for that reason.

If your house’s front door has just the standard peephole, you might want to replace it with a wide-angle peephole, which will deny anyone knocking the ability to easily move out of your line of sight.

How to Use Glass in the Door Without Hurting Security

Many front doors have regular glass or stained glass as part of the package, and that’s mostly for aesthetic appeal. But glass panes aren’t just decorative. They allow light in to brighten the interior of the home.

At the same time, glass – even the strong glass such doors usually have – is breakable. When that occurs, someone can reach in to undo the lock. And even before a blow is struck against the glass, someone considering a break-in can look through the glass to see if there are items they might want to steal.  

If you don’t want to give up the look that glass panes provide, using a clear or translucent security film is a way to improve security. If applied properly, the film will bond with the glass, and should an attempt be made to shatter it, the glass will crack but will stick firmly to the film and not give way easily.

Someone trying to reach through the area where the pane resided would risk multiple cuts and bruises and may well find that too discouraging to continue. 

The Importance of Good Lighting

Darkness may be Paul Simon’s old friend, but it’s no friend to anyone concerned about front door security. If the home’s exterior is well-lit, anyone trying to do damage will be visible to passers-by, and that discourages intruders.

To discourage intruders, you might want to improve your lighting by adding fixtures throwing light on the front door, if you don’t already have them. You should clean the glass surrounding the lights to improve the brightness. Another consideration would be to increase the wattage of the bulb you are using.

Sensor-motions lights are a good addition to the yard. They can be installed so that anyone approaching the front door at night will be greeted by a burst of light. Visitors will be pleased; intruders, not so much. 

Security Systems

Home security systems are great. Criminals would just as soon not deal with them, preferring to avoid the lights, camera and sirens that are part of standard security system packages.

Many security systems can be tied in with the homeowner’s use of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant. That link can integrate smart lighting, appliances and other systems.

Those systems also often include the option of a video doorbell. That can protect you, your family and your house by allowing you to see who is at the front door from wherever you and your smart phone are, inside the house or miles away. And the visitor won’t know where you are.

You can amplify your security by adding professional monitoring. It is an added expense, but unlike self-monitored systems, a professional monitoring system has the ability to contact law enforcement if necessary.

Professional monitoring can also be packaged with medical monitoring and carbon monoxide and smoke detection. It can be an expense, but it will likely earn you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance, so the sticker shock may be less than you might think.

Keeping Keys to a Minimum

Having too many keys is not a solution, it’s a problem. You might have one planted outside, just in case you lock yourself out. You will want keys for everyone who lives in the house, and you might have family members you want to have a key. If you’re doing work on the house, your contractor may have a key, too. They multiply.

If you are just moving in, you might want to have the house re-keyed for security. The sellers will have given you their keys, but they might not have remembered friends and neighbors who had copies of those same keys.

Rather than just re-keying the lock, consider replacing the locks entirely, particularly if the house is old. The tumblers and lock mechanisms can wear down over time.

You might be ready to take a step into the digital age and replace the standard metal key with a keyless lock. You can check to make sure the door is locked by using an app on your smartphone, and you can use the phone app to lock or unlock the door, as needed. And it doesn’t take much to change the code when you feel the need to freshen things up. 

The Importance of Upgrading Locks

If you have a lock that can be disengaged while you open the door from the inside, you are asking for trouble. At the very least, you need a separate deadbolt lock, and a door change would be useful, too.

While ANSI Grade 1 and Grade 2 deadbolts are great places to start, there are ways to make deadbolts more effective. Grade 2 locks can withstand five strikes of 75 pounds of force before bending or warping and are considered the best lock for most homes. By way of comparison, the basic Grade 3 lock is designed to withstand two strikes of 75 pounds or force.

The ANSI Grade 1 and Grade 2 deadbolts are designed to be drill- and saw resistant, pick-proof, bump-proof and kick-in resistant. Grade 3 locks are not.

Should you decide to go with a smartphone-enabled lock, it’s important to make sure that the unit includes 128-bit encryption for best security. 

Other Considerations

Does the Look of the Door Fit the House?

Curb appeal is always part of the overall picture.

It’s only natural to look at a front door and see it in terms of fitting in. Does the look go with the house? Does it go with the neighborhood? Will it mesh?

And door providers play into this. Head to a home improvement store or a window and door shop and the products out for display frequently will be more about looking good and fitting in and less about security.

Front Door Add-Ons

It’s not all about just the door itself. Does your front door have a single lock or a double lock? A deadbolt, or perhaps a door chain?

If they do, they’re providing extra protection. If they don’t, you need to consider adding them as you move to upgrade your security.

FAQ About Front Door Security

Do I need a new front door?

The older the door, the better the chance you’ll need to replace it. If it was initially supposed to be an interior door or if it is a hollow door, you should definitely need to replace it.

With a front door, do I have to choose between attractive and utilitarian?

Not necessarily. Even steel doors now are being manufactured in styles that will provide security and good looks. Wooden and fiberglass doors may be look better to you, but that’s a personal whim. You should be able to find a door that you’ll like the looks of and that you’ll feel secure behind.

How easy is it to replace a front door yourself?

Not very easy. It takes a fair amount of DIY skill, as well as planning and time. In most cases, we’d recommend leaving this work to a professional.

Get a Door, and Peace of Mind

Choosing a door often comes down to personal taste, but security should not be optional. A secure door is truly your first line of defense against an intruder.

If you are looking for a quality door and would like it installed properly, call a door installation pro today. 

Photo Credit: Pexels

John Hickey

John Hickey

John Hickey, contributing writer at LawnStarter, has been around sports as a writer and blogger since the earth was young. He's worked at the Oakland Tribune and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, for AOL/FanHouse and Sports Illustrated. As he writes this, he looks out his window and sees a lawn badly in need of mowing.