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how to secure a sliding glass door

7 Ways To Secure A Sliding Glass Door

Sliding doors are appealing for homeowners to enjoy a view, let light into a home, or improve the appeal of an outdoor entertainment area. The unobstructed view provided by sliding glass doors can be breathtaking, but these doors also pose some challenges in securing your home against intruders.

The best way to secure a sliding glass door is to use a combination of methods, including the following options.

  1. Sliding Glass Door Dowel Locks
  2. Sliding Door Security Bars
  3. Double-Bolt Locking Mechanism
  4. Shatter-Proof Film
  5. Retractable Security Gate
  6. Retractable Shutters
  7. A Monitored Alarm System

There are many ways to secure a glass sliding door, but not all methods are suitable for all situations. The security measure should ideally have minimal impact on the aesthetics of the sliding door and the view it provides.

In this guide, we will cover some top methods for providing security without detracting from the benefits of a glass sliding door.

Top Methods To Secure Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding doors are attractive and appealing, but we need to take a practical approach to secure these doors against intruders.

There are several choices available for enhancing the security of your sliding glass doors, each offering different levels of security to prevent unauthorized access to your home.

We will detail some of the best ways to secure the sliding glass doors, but a single security measure is insufficient to secure the door in most cases. A combination of security measures is generally necessary—the best security is layered.

1. Sliding Glass Door Dowel Locks

Sliding door locks are a great choice for securing your sliding glass doors. This method is probably the first security measure that comes to mind for most homeowners.

These locks provide two levels of security for the glass sliding door. The lock secures the door from moving laterally and prevents the door's vertical movement.

Limiting the wiggle on the sliding door eliminates the potential for the door to be manipulated and jostled to get it to come off the tracks and lift it out.

These locks are installed on the sliding part of the door and have a vertically sliding steel pin or dowel secured into a corresponding hole in the door's frame.

The locks are made from heavy-duty steel, preventing the failure of the lock if the door is violently pulled or struck. Many of these lock types have a locking mechanism controlled with a key, making it impossible to disengage the lock without using the key.

Many locks of this type have a push button to engage the lock without a key. This allows for fast activation of the lock to secure the door in place in an emergency without the need to look for a key. The key would be needed to open the lock to release the door.

This type of lock is suitable for single or double sliding glass doors. For a single sliding glass door, you only need a single lock to secure the sliding part of the door. The lock is usually installed where the door closes against the frame, with the locking mechanism securing into the upper part of the doorframe.

Double sliding glass doors will need a lock for each sliding door. The locks are normally installed at the section where the two doors meet in the closed position. This securing method has the added advantage of being able to secure the two doors individually.

The disadvantage of this lock type is that there is no access from the outside. You cannot access the lock mechanism from outside the door, preventing these locks from being unlocked from the outside.

While this is not a problem with most sliding doors, it is a limitation if a sliding door is the main entrance to your home.

2. Glass Sliding Door Security Bars

Security bars for sliding doors are a fairly versatile option that is easy to install and use, making it a measure that you will not fail to engage due to inconvenience.

There are essentially 2 main types of security bars for glass sliding doors. The first is a free-standing unit, while the second is fixed to the door frame on one side.

The free-standing type is an extendable bar placed on the track behind the closed sliding door. One end of the security bar rests against the frame or the non-sliding part of the door, and the other end butts up against the rear of the sliding door.

A pressure lever will extend the bar the final distance to lock up against both sides and wedge itself between the door and the frame. This method locks the sliding door in place and will not allow it to move.

The fixed version of the security bar has one end secured to the frame or the wall with bolts or screws, and the bar can swing down and out of the way when not in use.

When you want to engage the bar, you lift it and position it behind the rear of the sliding door and secure it in place with a pressure lever. The fixed version of the security bar is normally installed halfway up the door compared to the non-fixed option used at the bottom.

The disadvantage of security bars is that they only work for glass sliding doors where the sliding part of the doors is on the inside of the fixed, non-sliding section.

3. Double-Bolt Locking Mechanism For Sliding Glass Doors

The standard locking mechanism of most sliding doors is a simple lever-operated latch. This lock type is not very secure, to begin with, and over time the latch wears, and the door frame may warp, making these locks ineffective.

Double-bolt locks are available to act as a more secure replacement for the original level locks on sliding glass doors.

There are versions available for single sliding glass doors where the lock is fitted to the sliding part of the door, and the securing mechanism is fitted to the door frame where the door closes.

There are also versions of this lock type available for double sliding glass doors where the lock is on one sliding door and the securing mechanism on the other sliding door. The lock will engage in the middle, where the two doors meet.

The disadvantage of this lock type with double sliding doors is that the doors cannot be secured individually.

If you have other security measures fitted to your sliding doors, you could wait until the original latch wears out and replace it with a double-bolt lock.

Another option is to install a double-bolt lock immediately after installing the door and have this as one of the main security options on your door. It is certainly a better option than the lever-based latch that comes with the door!

4. Shatter-Proof Film For Sliding Glass Doors

The shatter-proof film option may not be a security measure that immediately comes to mind for sliding glass doors, but it should be considered in combination with other methods.

Shatter-proof film benefits by not allowing the glass to be broken easily by would-be burglars or by accidents in the home.

Many of the shatter-proof films available offer additional security features. One such feature is an unobstructed view through the glass, looking from the inside towards the outside but limiting vision from outside into the house.

This film benefits security since would-be intruders cannot monitor your movements inside the house by watching you through the sliding glass doors. They will not be able to tell if a person inside the house can see them approach the door.

5. Retractable Security Gate For Glass Sliding Doors

A popular, strong security enhancement for sliding doors is installing a retractable security gate that spans the entire length of the door opening.

This option is the most secure of all the options, and it is not necessary to use it in combination with any of the other security measures other than possibly the shatter-proof film.

The security gate is a metal lattice that runs on its own track, usually installed on the inside of the sliding door.

The design of the security gate allows it to concertina up to a folded position to the side of the sliding door. When in the retracted position, the gate will not obstruct the view through the glass door.

An added feature with the retractable security gate is that you can leave the sliding door open in the cool of night and secure the security gate in place. This will allow the cool air to enter your home while keeping you safe and secure from potential intruders.

The disadvantage of the retractable security gates is that they require an advanced level of DIY knowledge to fit them or a professional installation. They also take up some space on the side of the sliding door when retracted, but in most cases, this is not too detracting from the aesthetics of the view.

6. Retractable Shutters To Secure Sliding Glass Doors

Retractable shutters work on a similar principle to the retractable security gate. The shutters are mounted on a track on the inside of the sliding door. When the shutters are opened, they concertina and stack up against one edge of the doorframe.

The benefit of the retractable shutter is that it acts as a visual barrier and a physical one. In some shutter designs, you can have some limited vision of the outside, while people outside cannot see inside the house.

The shutters can be robust and offer an additional barrier to an intruder but will not stop a determined criminal. It would be advisable to use the shutters in conjunction with another security measure on the sliding door.

7. Secure A Sliding Glass Door With An Alarm System

An alarm su=system is another secondary method of securing a sliding glass door. While the alarm system itself will not keep an intruder out, posting notifications of a monitored alarm system on your home or property boundary may deter criminals.

The alarm system should be a monitored system linked to a security company that will respond to any alarm triggers.

Sensors on the vulnerable sliding glass door will detect any intrusion via this access point and trigger a response from the security company.

A monitored alarm system is generally installed in combination with other measures to secure the sliding door from illegal entry.

Many insurance companies covering your home will insist on a monitored alarm system on a sliding door and other securing mechanisms to minimize their risk when insuring your home.

While an alarm system will not prevent an intruder from entering your home, it will alert you of the presence of an intruder and initiate the dispatch of security personnel to your assistance.

How To Choose Security For Your Sliding Glass Door

There are some features to be mindful of when selecting security measures for these doors, which will have relevance to your selection of the level of security needed.

Before choosing your optimal security strategy for your sliding doors, you should consider the following.

  • Minimal interference with the view. The security measure should have as little impact as possible on the unobstructed view provided by the glass sliding doors and the light it provides for the home.
  • Easy to install. The less complicated the solution, the better. While some solutions benefit from a professional installation, most are easily achieved as a DIY project by a homeowner with some basic handyman skills.
  • Easy to operate. This is a key feature of the security solution. If the security measure is complicated or cumbersome, the temptation will be to not apply the security measure for the sake of convenience. A security measure is ineffective if not engaged because it is difficult or troublesome to apply.
  • Effective against intruders. The sliding glass door security measure should be effective at keeping intruders out. A solution that simply delays the forced entry by a minute or two is not a sufficient deterrent for a determined intruder.

Many of the security measures available for sliding glass doors only address one aspect of the vulnerability of these doors. For this reason, many of these security measures cannot be implemented as a standalone solution but as part of an overall security plan for the doors.

The number of steps you include to secure your glass sliding doors will be determined by the several features of your property, home, and environment.

  • Your perimeter security. If your perimeter security is substantial, such as difficult to access, and provides limited visibility of the sliding door, then the security measures taken for the sliding door may not need to be as drastic.
  • Level of neighborhood crime. Living in a secure area, such as a gated community, may require less strict security measures for sliding doors than living in other neighborhoods with higher crime levels.
  • Accessibility of the sliding door. If your sliding door is not easily accessible from the outside, such as on an upper level or the second story of your home or overlooking a steep drop-off or cliff, there will be limited accessibility from the outside, requiring less stringent security measures.
  • Visibility of the sliding glass door. If your sliding glass door is easily visible from neighboring properties or the street, it gives would-be criminals time to observe the sliding doors and formulate a plan to attempt a break-in. A visible sliding door would need additional measures to dissuade intruders from attempting to use the sliding door to gain access to your home.

How Do You Keep A Sliding Glass Door From Being Lifted?

One of the most common tactics that criminals use to gain access to a home through a sliding glass door is to lift the door off its tracks and maneuver it out of position.

The best method to keep a sliding door from being lifted is to install a sliding door lock that uses the vertical locking pin or dowel. The pin engages into the door frame and prevents the door from being lifted off the tracks.

How Easy Is It To Break Into A Sliding Glass Door?

A sliding glass door unprotected by any additional security measure is a vulnerable access point into your home.

It is easy to break into a sliding glass door in its standard form without any aftermarket security hardware. The standard latch securing a sliding glass door is weak and easily bypassed, and you should not rely on the latch alone to secure the door.

The other primary vulnerability is removing the door from the tracks. Consequently, addressing these two main weak points of sliding glass doors will improve the security of your home tremendously!

Conclusion

Sliding glass doors can be attractive and convenient and improve the usability of outside spaces in your home. The main issue with these doors is the security vulnerability they pose to your home, requiring special attention to adequately secure the doors.

Fortunately, many of the methods to provide good levels of security for sliding glass doors are relatively inexpensive, and the homeowner can install many as a DIY project.

Installing methods to secure sliding glass doors should be considered part of the initial installation since these doors should never be left with only their original securing mechanisms.

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