What makes a secure front door?
Right, hello, you're looking lovely there. Hope you had a splendid Easter and all that - it'll be summer before you know it. Now the pleasantries are out of the way, I thought I'd go back to basics on this month's blog. Not in a 1993 John Major campaign type of way because, well, I'm not John Major, and I've not been up to unspeakable stuff with Edwina Currie - apologies if you thought that was me. Rather, instead of getting deep into the ins and outs of alarm systems, safes, window locks, grilles, and the like, I thought I'd concentrate on one thing and one thing only - the trusty front door. Or at least it should be trusty, but as we'll see, this isn't always the case.
The simple fact is that if your house has the most secure front door in the neighbourhood, your chances of being targeted by burglars drop significantly. As I've said time and time again, burglars are lazy and want an easy life - 20 years of being in the locksmith business has shown me that they will take the path of least resistance every single time. The front door is still the main point of access for most burglaries, and having the right one in place can be intimidating enough for the burglar to take a glance and then move on looking for an easier target.
So what makes a secure door? There are a number of factors, 4 of which I'll briefly touch on below;
1. The quality of your door
We will soon get on to the subject of locks but let's be honest - no matter how good the locks are, they will count for nothing if you have a flimsy front door. Going for a cheap, flimsy model may seem like a wise budgetary decision at the point of purchase, but after the door has been kicked in with a single kick of a boot, that decision begins to seem a lot more foolish. Brute force is still a tactic used by some burglars and a weak door that gives in on the first kick is a gift to them. Either the door itself will totally shatter, the door frame will break, or the door will split, causing the lock to fall off. Any of these outcomes will give the burglar quick access through and into your house.
2. Choose the right door locks
You've got yourself a sturdy front door - now it's time for the most effective way to deter burglars - the locks themselves. It's well worth here relying on the services of your local locksmith - making sure, as ever that they are qualified and experienced (hint, hint). Get them to carry out an inspection on your existing locks and you can quickly be assured that the locks are suitable for the door, meet British standards (as well as adhering to home insurance policy requirements), and that they are the best possible security for yourself. Remember that not all properties and doors are the same so buying off the shelf is not always the best way forward. Your local experienced locksmith will have come across pretty much every type of door and lock on their travels and so are ideally placed to offer advice on the best way forward.
Doors are made out of different materials, and this material will have an impact on the type of lock needed. For wooden doors, there should be a minimum of two locks - these may consist of a combination of a British Standard deadlock and a British Standard mortice lock. A deadlock is an important investment, and a night latch may also be required - your locksmith will be able to advise you on this. For uPVC doors, anti-snap cylinder locks are the way forward, with the emphasis on the "anti-snap" aspect, a topic I've covered on these pages before. Spending a little extra money now on the best quality anti-snap locks you can afford will save a lot of heartache in the long run. Beware of locksmiths offering to fit locks at a suspiciously low price - it's likely these may be easily snappable and will cost you a lot more money in the long run. Ensure any work carried out is fully guaranteed, and that the locksmith is properly registered.
3. USING the locks
Okay, you've got the sturdy door, you've had the locksmith out to fit spanking new locks and are feeling pretty pleased with yourself, confident that your house is the most secure in its postcode. But then you leave the house and forget to lock the door! All that good work is undone. A lock will be a deterrent but not actually using it means that any attempt to access your property is an immediate success. Added to the trauma of having a burglar in your house and your possessions stolen is the fact that in all likelihood you won't now be covered by your home insurance. This makes the situation all the worse, and yet sadly I see this mistake happening time and time again. The lesson is often learned all too late so yes, I'm banging on about it again - REMEMBER TO LOCK YOUR DOORS. Make it a matter of course of using all the locks available to you every time you leave the house.
4. Door furniture
No, I don't mean tables and chairs made out of your old doors, but rather anything on your door that could either help or hinder the neighbourhood burglar. For instance, the positioning of letter boxes should ensure that there can be no access to your lock through them and that they are out of easy reach of any keys left near the front door. Letterboxes should be over 40cm away from the locks and not run along the bottom of the door.
Door furniture that will be of benefit to the householder would include a spy hole whereby you can see who's at the door before opening up to a potential intruder, and also a door chain which performs the same function should you be unsure who's at the door.
Locksmiths advice for peace of mind
So in summary, those are the 4 major factors to consider in order to maintain the security of your front door. The quality of the door itself, the all-important locks, actually using the locks, and finally any door "furniture" that's in place. Following all these tips should leave you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your house is unlikely to be the one chosen by any prospective burglar roaming the area.
For advice on anything lock-related, to enquire about repairs or replacements, or to get me to look over your existing security arrangements, call 01226 399067 and ask for Stephen, your friendly Barnsley Locksmith.