French doors are a charming addition to any space, bestowing it with a layer of sophistication, style, and expansiveness. My next-door neighbor has a beautiful set of white French doors in the dining room that opens onto her hardwood patio and backyard. In this article, I will focus on how to secure French doors that open out.
I can happily claim to have enjoyed many a meal there with her family while being treated to great food, wine, and a beautiful view of their landscaped garden via the open French doors.
It’s especially great whenever we meet for dinner, as we dine alfresco on the patio and look upon their well-lit garden, its natural beauty further illuminated by an array of automated lights.
However, as a security expert with over 30 years of experience, I have seen many burglaries occur due to a pair of unlocked or unsecured French doors.
If you have been wondering about how to secure French doors that open out, then this article is a must-read for you.
The history of French doors goes back to the Italian Renaissance. The French brought this style back with them after winning their war against Italy in the 17th century. Originally made from wood, these doors are highly-prized for their perfect symmetry and geometric proportions.
Did you know that glass panels were introduced later as a way to allow natural light into homes before the invention of electricity? Interesting to see how things were managed before the advent of technology, isn’t it?
That’s why French doors are most commonly installed at the entrances to gardens and balconies; it’s a smart way to let in natural light and brighten up interior spaces. These doors also help build a connection to the outdoors and are a great way to let in some fresh air, too.
Even though there’s no debating that French doors are classically stylish, they can also turn into a serious security concern. Continue reading to find out more about how to secure your doors.
Why Are French Doors so Popular?
French doors are the perfect combination of design and functionality. A pair of stunning French doors help accentuate well-sculptured gardens and open spaces.
They are also a great way to make your existing spaces look bigger and brighter. French doors are often a great design option for your living room, dining room, balcony, or even garden folly as they create a natural flow from one space to another, allowing for a smoother transition and creating a continuity of space.
I have also seen many French doors at the entrances of large offices to promote connectivity. They further act as a great design feature in master bedrooms to create a sense of privacy and spaciousness.
How Do French Doors Work?
French doors primarily consist of a pair of doors that open inward or outward. They come in ready-to-assemble kits or are built and designed from scratch. From a security point of view, French doors that open inwards offer better protection than the ones that open out.
Let’s explore why:
- A pair of French doors come with two sets of doors. However, they differ from double doors in one key element, i.e., their build. While double doors are solid, French doors feature glass panels joined by a light wooden frame.
- French doors can swing either inwards or outwards. It’s harder to figure out how to secure French doors that open outwards as their hinges are on the outside and can be dismantled in a matter of seconds by experienced burglars. All they have to do is remove the pin and take off the hinges to gain access to your home.
- While inward opening French doors are more secure, they can take up a lot of space inside your house, store, or office.
- With a pair of French doors, one door is usually opened more often and is known as the active door. This door is the one that is opened and closed for everyday use.
- The other door stays locked or latched down and is called the passive door.
- Both the doors can also be opened simultaneously to let in furniture or even to enjoy the outdoors fully.
- French patio doors are also a set of two doors.
- The main difference is that French doors open outwards on hinges, while French patio doors are sliding glass doors that slide on a track and open sideways.
In the end, French doors that open out are the best option as they open out onto your beautiful patios or backyards and take up less space inside. The only issue is: why are they so hard to secure?
Why Are French Doors Hard to Secure?
Before we look at how to secure French doors, let’s take a look at why are they so hard to secure:
- In the case of French doors that open outwards, the door hinges are on the outside. This means that anyone can remove the pin and take these doors off their hinges.
- Classic French doors have several small glass panes that are connected by thin wooden strips. This design element makes these doors extremely weak as it’s quite easy to smash through the glass panels and even break the fragile wooden strips.
- For anyone exploring how to unlock French doors, the connecting point between the double doors is another vulnerable point to exploit.
- The center point where the two French doors connect is weak and usually secured with a single cylinder deadbolt. A robber can easily break or cut open a glass panel close to the lock and then break or open the lock from the inside.
- Additionally, if the meeting point between the two doors has overlapping panels, it makes it easier for them to be kicked in. The lock connecting two French doors is weak and is easily broken.
The biggest threat with French doors is that they can be unlocked within a matter of seconds without much noise or fuss. Unless secured properly, they can turn into a major security concern for you.
How to Secure French Doors That Open Out | 5 Proven Tips Will Boost Your Security by 80%
We have discussed the features and vulnerabilities of French doors that open outwards. Now, let’s see what is the best way to secure French doors.
- Fit Your Doors With Unbreakable Glass or Anti-Theft Film
As mentioned above, glass panels are the most vulnerable components of French doors. An efficient way to secure your French doors is to install unbreakable or high-impact glass.
If you do not wish to replace your current glass panes, a quick and easy fix is to apply an anti-theft film. The film is a few millimeters thick and transparent, so it won’t spoil the look of your doors. The glass panels are damaged, but the film stops the glass from shattering and keeps the shards together. This prevents any burglars from opening the door from the inside.
- Opt for a High-Quality Mortise Lock
A mortise lock is a special type of deadbolt lock. A regular lock is inserted into a hole drilled into the door. In the case of a mortise lock, a complete metal housing is installed. For this, one creates a special pocket in the door to fit the lock. Once installed, a mortise lock is far harder to break than a regular deadbolt lock.
I would say that using a high-quality mortise lock is a great way to secure French patio doors. The mortise lock secures the active sliding door to the wall frame. You can easily buy one online or get one at your local hardware store. Here is also an article that I have done on different types of sliding glass door locks.
- Install a Double-Cylinder Deadbolt
A regular deadbolt only requires a key on one side and is easily unlocked. If your French doors do not have unbreakable glass, using a double-cylinder deadbolt that requires keys on both sides for unlocking can help prevent a break-in. It is far stronger and better at holding the two doors together.
Any intruder would have to apply a considerable amount of force to break down a double-cylinder deadbolt.
- Add Indoor Hinges
In most French doors that open outwards, the hinges are accessible from the outside and removed/unscrewed by burglars.
- Secure the Passive Door
Most locking systems connect the active door to the passive door. If anyone is looking at how to unlock French doors, they will try to unhinge or unlock your passive door that secures the active door.
You can also make it harder for anyone to break into your home by securing the passive door. You can use flush bolts or latches to screw in and fasten the passive door to the floor and the ceiling.
Additional Measures To Help You Stay Safe
- Install a CCTV Camera
This is a general security measure but can be incredibly useful. Especially if you have French patio doors at your shop/store entrance. This allows you to keep an eye on any visitors near your doors. It even alerts you to any attempts to tamper or damage the doors.
Pro-Tip: Devices like Ring or Nest allow you to check the CCTV footage on your mobile devices in real life, no matter where you are. I strongly recommend installing security cameras that surveil your French doors. Adding live feed and professional monitoring help keep your homes secure.
- Add Curtains on the Inside
While French doors offer you an uninterrupted view of the outside, they also allow others to look inside your house. That’s why it’s a smart idea to have curtains on the inner side of your French doors.
Having curtains allows you a sense of privacy while stopping strangers from getting a glimpse inside your house. After all, tempt them by showing them the valuables inside?
Pro-Tip: Make sure to lock your French doors when not in use. As a security expert, I can tell you that in 5 cases out of 10, a burglar gets inside a house via an unlocked window or door.
- Install a Patlock
Installing a Patlock is a great way to secure your French doors, as the device locks the door handles on the inside of French doors. Once you set the Patlock, the handles stay fixed.
With prices starting at just $73.99, you can secure your house for under $100, including shipping costs.
- Secure Your Doors with Flush Bolts
Flush bolts may be the best way to secure French doors. These bolts are best for two-door sets and help secure the passive or inactive door. The best way is to use two flush bolts, one at the bottom that firmly fastens the door to the floor and the other at the top of the door frame.
Once you have inserted the flush bolt, you can screw it into the floor and doorframe for good measure.
Available on Amazon for just $12.99, these locks are a cost-friendly way to secure your French doors.
In this article, we have explored how to secure French doors that open out. These doors can be custom-made for your space or even come in ready-to-install kits.
Apart from the steps and measures discussed above, factors like the thickness of the French doors, wooden panels, and the quality of materials used to install them also matter.
My advice is to go for sturdy wooden or metal doors that easily install bolts and locks. These doors are also easier to secure from being kicked in.
Taking all these steps highlighted above can reduce the chance of a break-in via your French doors by over 80%.
The principle is simple, the more measures you take, the safer you will be.
So, which of the above methods do you think offers the best security for French doors? Let us know in the comments below.
I have been a security guy throughout my life. For the last 30 years, I have been making homes safer and hence, putting people at ease. Even on the other side of age, I get fascinated by how technology and simple hacks can make a whole lot of difference to the overall security of the house.