French doors are an excellent door system for homeowners that want to make their homes feel a little bigger and let some extra natural light in. They are elegant and stylish.
But does that come at a price? Unfortunately, it does seem so, especially when it comes to security.
So are French doors secure? French doors are not as secure as other door systems because of their design. Both single and double-sided French doors are not very sturdy and will not withstand violent impact because they do not lock into a secure and solid frame. This makes them less secure and more prone to break-ins.
Continue reading below. You will find more information on all your questions about French doors and why they may be a security concern, plus helpful tips and ideas on how to make them more secure.
What Makes French Doors Insecure?
There are several reasons why French doors are not as secure as other door systems. Below I explore each of the different aspects of French doors that make them insecure.
Poor Installation Practices
One of the main reasons a French door may turn into a security hazard comes from improper installation practices.
French doors should open and close easily and fit tightly; there should not be any unnecessary movement or space between the doors and the frame.
However, poor installation practices can turn French doors into a bigger liability than normal.
The Flush Bolts
Double-sided French doors usually have two door leaves, one active and one inactive. The inactive door leaf is usually locked in place, hence why it is considered inactive. This is achieved by two flush bolts that go into the frame.
The problem with these flush bolts is that they may be accessible from the outside while the French door is completely closed and locked. This can be done with a screwdriver, a knife, and other tools. Once the flush bolts have been opened, both doors will simply open at the push of a hand.
The best way to secure the flush bolts of double-sided French doors is to put a screw on each flush bolt to prevent it from being completely opened. When you need to open both doors, which is usually not very often for many homeowners, all you need to do is remove the screws.
For a great demonstration of how easy it is to open locked double-sided French doors in just a few seconds, check out this video.
The more open nature of French doors is one of their weaknesses.
Thieves will usually aim for areas of your home, which are not particularly secure. This is why thieves will always go for areas where there’s glass.
French doors come in a variety of different designs and styles. Many may have a single full-view glass panel while others have multiple glass panels or even be surrounded by glass panels.
It doesn’t take much to break a glass window or a glass door and gain entry. Even the most sophisticated security lock will do no good if the intruder can simply walk past it.
And the amount of glass does affect how secure your French door is—the more the glass, the less secure your French door is.
You know how normal doors are designed to work. The door leaf opens and closes, and it is surrounded by static and solid frames that are attached to the wall.
Everything around a standard door is solid, which allows the door when locked to connect and use that sturdiness and solidity of the wall to its advantage.
Well now consider for a moment how French doors are (Especially the double-sided French doors.) Oftentimes they will be surrounded by glass panels or will lock to the other door leaf, which is not exactly as strong as a concrete or brick wall.
Lock your French doors and give them a little push, the chances are, you will feel the doors giving in ever so slightly. (Something that does not happen with a regular door.)
Here’s why I am telling you all this.
A burglar can walk to your French door and kick it in. Both doors, including the frame and any composite materials, will simply shatter and break at the locking system.
By far, this is the easiest way for a burglar to gain entry, just take a look:
In this section, I would also add that not all doors are created equal. The type of wood used is not always the same, and certain woods may be more easily broken than others. A thick, quality wooden door is well worth your while as it is more secure and hard to break.
How to Make French Doors More Secure?
Strengthen and Secure the Glass
For a French door to be fully secured, any glass windows or panels on or around it must be strengthened and secured.
This can be done in different ways, like:
- Installing a window security film.
- Installing motion sensors, cameras, glass break sensors, or contact sensors. (Links to Amazon)
Security films are usually the least expensive way to secure French door windows. They will provide a decent, though, basic, level of security. No security films will keep the intruder out forever, but they will definitely slow them down.
On the other hand, properly installed sensors can be a very effective deterrent as this type of security system can often catch a thief off guard and maybe impossible to avoid, essentially giving them no other choice but to leave the place.
Use Impact-Resistant Glass
You will probably already have a good idea of how useful impact-resistant glass can be if you live in a hurricane-prone area. I am talking about tempered glass (Which can also be called laminated or double glazed glass.)
This extra-tough type of glass will be effective not only against hurricanes but also thieves.
Of course, even tempered glass can be broken eventually, but it will be a good deterrent against any opportunistic thieves. Furthermore, it can be combined with other window security methods like a security film for extra protection.
Use a Multi-Point Locking System
A multi-point locking system will make the joint between the two doors more secure and able to withstand an impact from somebody who tries to gain entry.
Such a locking system will secure the doors at multiple points around the frame.
Add Hinge Bolts or Security Hinges
Hinge bolts and security hinges work the same way but are very different. Both will add a little more security against anyone using brute force to open the door.
Secure the Bottom and the Top
A great little gadget like a night latch or a door barricade lock can add tons of security to an otherwise insecure French door.
A door barricade like this one on Amazon is simple and easy to install and will prevent both doors from opening. It can withstand up to 3000 pounds of force.
Check out this short video below, as you can see, the chances are the door itself will break before this little gadget will give in.
The next thing is also to make sure the top of the door has been locked and stabilized properly.
This can be done by installing a metal plate that reinforces the area where the pin gets into the frame or by using a lock like the Door Guardian, on Amazon. This is a simple and easy to install device that will protect against forced entries and is suitable for inward swinging French doors.
Secure the Jamb
The areas around the jamb and the deadbolt are among the most vulnerable spots on any French door.
Secure the Hinge
Use case hardened extra long screws for the hinge. Oftentimes the standard screws that come with the hinges will not provide the best security and may need to be replaced.
Use French Door Security Lock
With a French door security lock like this one (link to Amazon), you can lock both handles of the doors together. These types of locks are designed to keep the doors closed even if they have not been locked
Add an Internal Security Grill
Indeed, this is not the prettiest solution, but it is a very effective one nonetheless.
An internal grill will be very effective at deterring any burglars as they will know they will have to get past more than one door. And an internal security grill is not exactly easy to break using brute force alone.
Are Outwards Swinging French Doors Secure?
French doors usually swing inwards; however, it is not unheard of French doors that swing outwards. It is hard to say which type of French door will be easier to break into, but both inwards and outward swinging French doors fall victim to the same vulnerabilities.
Some security measures will not work – like the foot barricade lock, for example, unless you use a foot lock that, when locked, is attached securely to both the floor and the door. The top of the doors, in this case, may need to be locked using a latch.
The latch should be able to attach to both doors in order to keep them tightly secured.
In any case, outward swinging French doors are as secure or insecure as inward swinging French doors.