You can do a lot to secure your exterior doors. But, if you don’t reinforce your door frame, it could all be for naught.
One switch kick could cause the door frame to give way, making the locks effectively a non-issue. Luckily, the majority of homeowners can reinforce a door frame with just a few basic tools and a little bit of time.
Making sure your gloves and safety glasses are on, you can begin by removing the door trim on the latch side of the door. You may be able to do this by hand or by using the claw end of the hammer.
Make sure to remove the trim carefully if you intend to reuse it. Otherwise, it may break, and you’ll need to place it.
Align The Metal Building Plate
Most reinforcement kits come with a metal building plate that features pre-cut holes that allow your deadbolt and door latch to pass through, so you want to align these openings to the holes in your door frame.
One aligned, take a pencil and trace along the outside of the plate. This will function as a guide when you create a recess for the plate.
In some cases, the metal building plate doesn’t have to be recessed. If this is the case, you can proceed to step four.
Chisel Out To Create A Recess
To ensure your metal building plate sits flush, you need to chisel out the area it will set in. Take your tape measure and measure the depth of the plate. This gives you a general idea of how much material you need to chisel out.
Take your hammer and chisel and carefully remove material until you reach the necessary depth. You can set the plate into the recess as you go along to test whether it will sit flush.
Prepare For The Screws
After you fit the plate into the recess, use a pencil to mark the location of the pilot holes for the screws. Then, remove the plate and use a drill to start the holes.
Choose a drill bit that is slimmer than the screws themselves to ensure there is enough material available for the screws to catch. Aim for a depth that is approximately equal to the screws that will be used.
Attach The Plate
Once the pilot holes have been drilled, you can attach the plate. If your reinforcement kit came with screws, then review the instructions and use the ones provided. Otherwise, you can use 3-inch wood screws as a substitute.
Test The Door
Now that the plate is in place, you want to test the door to make sure it opens and closes properly, and that the locks latch correctly.
If the plate impedes the operation of the door, then you may need to remove it, chisel away more material, and then reattach the plate.
Repeat the process as necessary until the door operates smoothly. You can also replace your door trim if needed.
Reinforce The Rest Of The Door Frame
You can reinforce the remainder of the door frame pretty easily by adding additional screws.
Often, builders use shorter screws when attaching the door frame, so they don’t always penetrate into the underlying framing.
Typically, you have two choices. First, you can remove the existing screws and replace them with 3-inch wood screws, drilling pilot holes to gain the additional depth, or supplement the existing screws by adding 3-inch wood screws along the frame about halfway in between each set of existing screws.
If you’re adding new screws instead of replacing existing ones, use the drill to create pilot holes, then add the new screws.
Once everything is in place, test the door to make sure it operates properly, adjusting any screws that may impede its movement.
Add Hinge Shields
Your reinforcement kit should also come with hinge shields, giving you the ability to make the hinged side of your door more robust.
Open your door to expose the hinges, focusing on the side of the hinge that attaches to the door frame. Each hinge shield should come with holes that are designed to line up with the location of your hinge screws, so take a look at the hinge shield and determine which screws on the hinge align properly.
Starting with the middle hinge, hold the hinge shield against those screws and, using a pencil, mark the location of the holes at the top and bottom of the hinge shield. These will be locations of new screws that hold the plate in place.
Remove the identified screws from the middle and use your drill to create pilot holes for the longer hinge screws and the new hinge shield screws.
Place the hinge shield over the hinge and screw it in place using the screws from your reinforcement kit or 3-inch wood screws. Then, add the screws to the top and bottom of the plate.
Repeat the process on your remaining hinge shields, then test the door to make sure it operates smoothly, making adjustments as necessary.
Once the above steps are complete, you have successfully reinforced your door frame, making it harder for potential intruders to gain entry to your home using brute force.
You can repeat the process for any exterior door, so don’t forget your back or side doors, if you have them.