Door Systems & Locking Devices

Elements of a Door System

When evaluating a point of entry—particularly from the perspective of security (as opposed to privacy)—one should consider all tings on and in the immediate vicinity of the door as having an impact on the entrance’s ability to control access. We often think of the locking device as the sole provide of security; but as a history of reports of unlawful or unauthorized entries tell us, the locks are not the only point of failure. Usually, thefts or other incidents occur simply because a door is left unlocked.

Secure Entry Elements

The ability of an entry way to be secure is dependent on a number of elements, each of which contribute to the integrity of the door and its ability to return to the closed and locked position each and every time an opening occurs. The more notable of these elements include:

  • Door frame
  • Door or door panel itself
  • Hinges
  • Locking system
  • Miscellaneous hardware such as mullions and astagals, closing devices, holders, door viewers, and weather stripping.
  • Surrounding conditions including walls and ceilings, window lites.

Objectives of a Door System

  • A door system should be constructed using such materials as to render the entryway less susceptible to vandal attacks or adverse wear.
  • A door system should be designed to minimize the need for maintenance
  • It should be as intrinsically secure from forced entry. Doors that are easily entered i.e., with a coat hanger, however, should be avoided in ANY risk situation.
  • It should be constructed to be resistant to door propping either by intentional acts or because of hardware problems.
  • The methods to provide authorized access through the door should be difficult to duplicate.

Types of Doors

Hinged Doors

Entry doors should be solid core wood (at least 1 3/4 inches thick) or metal. Most hollow core doors can be easily broken through. They offer little protection, no matter what locks you use. Your door should fit its frame tightly - with no more than 1/8-inch clearance between the door and frame. If the gap is too large, replace the door. If that is too expensive, bolt a sturdy metal strip to the door edge. You boost your protection and save energy. Any hardware dealer can show you the kind of strip to use. Doors with decorative glass panels or windows are an easy mark. It takes only seconds to break the glass and unlock the door. If you do not want to replace the door, install a break-resistant plastic panel or decorative grill over the glass. Attach the grills with non-removable screws. Most door hinges are on the inside, safe from a burglar’s tools. If hinges are on the outside, the hinge pins can be easily removed and the door taken out of the frame. To protect such doors, replace hinges with new ones with non-removable pins.

Sliding Glass Doors

Burglars look for sliding glass doors because they are easy to open. Several types of locks are made especially for these glass doors. The existing lock can be bolstered by placing a solid strip of wood in the track of the closed door. That helps block the door even if the lock is broken. Determined thieves may lift the door off its tracks. Use these preventative tips:

  • Adjust rollers so the door cannot be pushed up enough to lift it off the track.
  • Insert screws along the upper track of the door. Leave enough room for the door to slide, but not enough space to lift the door out.
  • Drill a hole and insert a nail through the inside frame and part way through the metal door frame. You can remove the nail, but a burglar cannot.
  • Watch our video on "How Not to Secure a Sliding Glass Door"

Mechanical Locking Devices

Deadbolt Locks

A deadbolt lock can provide good protection. When you turn the key, the lock mechanism slides a strong metal bolt from the door into the frame. When you buy a deadbolt lock, make sure:

  • The bolt extends at least 1 inch from the edge of the door (has a 1-inch thro).
  • The connecting screws that hold the lock together are on the inside of the door.
  • The strike plate is attached to the door frame with screws that measure at least 3 inches.
  • The cylinder has a steel guard - a ring around the key section. The cylinder guard should be tapered or rotated around the key to prevent wrenching if twisted.

Double-Cylinder Deadbolt Locks

The Taylor Police and Fire departments do not recommend Double-Cylinder Deadbolt locks for safety reasons. In case of an emergency, we want the resident to get out of the house quickly.


Padlocks are typically used for garages, sheds, and workshops. Look for a sturdy padlock that does not release the key until the padlock is locked. Be sure the padlock is case-hardened with a 3/8-inch shackle so it can resist bolt cutters. A double-locking design can prevent the shackle being pried away from its case. Remember that a padlock is only as good as the hasp on which it is mounted. The hasp should be secured with bolts that are concealed when the padlock is locked. All the hardware in the world will not protect you if you open your door without checking who is on the other side. Buy an inexpensive viewer. Tell your children and their babysitters not to open the door to strangers


Victims report that as many as half of all burglaries take place without forced entry. In many cases, the burglar used a key. Be sure your keys do not fall into the wrong hands.

  • Never carry identification tags on your key ring or holder.
  • When you move into a new home have the locks re-keyed or changed. A locksmith can do this or, if you are handy with tools, you can change the lock yourself.
  • Know who has every key to your home. Do not give keys to maintenance or delivery people.
  • Do not hide your key outside. Burglars know all the hiding places