Types of Locks for Securing Sliding Glass Doors
While sliding glass doors can make a beautiful and functional design statement, they can also pose unique security risks. Sliders have weaknesses that are different from those associated with traditional wood or steel doors. Many homeowners are aware of the risks associated with sliding doors and may shy away from installing them on their property. Yet, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to ensure that your slider unit is secure.
The first step is determining the weak points of a sliding glass door system. Then we’ll look at the options for reinforcing a slider. We also provide information installing new or replacing the existing lock hardware and which types of locks are best for securing these doors.
Why Sliding Glass Doors are Less Secure
- They are often unlocked
- They advertise what’s in your home
- They are made of tempered glass
- Their locks are easily pick-able
- They are often in your backyard, out of common view
How Burglars Break in Through Your Sliding Glass Door
Before we get into how to secure your sliding glass door, we need to address how burglars may get in in the first place.
Bypassing the Lock
As we briefly mentioned above, the locks on most sliding glass doors are really just latches. Is that all that you want standing between a burglar and your possessions? This video of a homeowner unlocking his own sliding door is a great demonstration of the weakness of standard sliding door locks.
Lifting the Door Out of Its Frame
Using a crowbar, it’s possible for a burglar to literally lift up a sliding door, move it off of the tracks and out of the way. How is that possible? How do you think the door was put into the frame when it was made? The burglar is simply reverse engineering the installation process.
Breaking the Glass
Finally, if someone is desperate enough, they may just simply break through the glass. But don’t worry, your door is made of tempered glass, so the burglar won’t get hurt! (Can you sense our sarcasm?)
Are you discouraged from buying that sliding glass door you’ve been dreaming of, now? We hope not. The best way to mitigate risk is to acknowledge it, accept the potential for it, and prepare yourself for it with the help of a trusted partner, such as Great Valley Lockshop. If you really want that sliding door, then get it! We’ll help you address the security concerns that come along with the purchase.
Can Sliding Doors Be Locked Securely?
The standard factory locks installed on sliding glass doors aren’t usually of the highest quality. On some door models with vinyl frames, the fastener and the bolt mechanism don’t even pass through the sturdier wood or metal frame to provide adequate security. A locksmith can help determine if it provides a sufficient level of security. The lock may need additional reinforcement or to be replaced.
Reinforcing & Securing Your Sliding Glass Door
Some hardware can be added to a sliding door to make it more difficult to force open.
- Sliding Door Frame Security Hardware – A jimmy plate can be found at most hardware stores. It’s a flat, metal plate that is installed over the sliding door frame. The plate serves to block the door and keeping a burglar from prying and removing the door from its position on the frame.
- Security Bars – You can buy strong metal bars that fold into place and brace against the door to lock it into place. You can also cut a dowel or piece of wood to place in the door track when it’s closed.
- Adding a Second Lock – When replacement isn’t possible or isn’t desired, you can still add additional security by having a secondary lock installed. Most auxiliary sliding glass door locks are installed on the back edge of the slider or along the top rail along the frame or track. Check with your local building code before having an extra lock installed. Some require sliding glass doors to be operable from the inside without keys.
- Replacing the Original Lock – Many homeowners ultimately decide to replace the door’s original lock for better protection. Because of the unique way that sliding doors function, it’s best to ensure the lock works as it was intended by having it professionally installed. It’s also a good idea to consult with an experienced locksmith about the best type of residential locks for your specific style of sliding glass door.
- Security Door Sensors – This is not a substitute for a secure door, but sensors attached to an alarm may help scare off a burglar.
- Switch to Impact-Resistant Sliding Door – “Hurricane-proof” sliding doors are going to significantly increase your investment, but they can’t easily be broken.
- Add-On Window Film – Security window film is a thin sheet used as a protective layer that makes glass more difficult to break through. It won’t make your door unbreakable, but it can make it a bit more difficult.
- Glass-Break Detectors – Very similar to a door sensor, glass-break detectors will sound when glass is broken. Again, just the alarm sounding afterward may be enough to ward of a burglar.
Types of Locks for Sliding Doors
If you are looking to protect your home, a good place to start is the sliding glass door. These entry points are considered a weak spot when it comes to residential break-ins. Consider replacing the standard lock on the door with a mechanism that provides a higher level of security. Here are a few options:
Two-Bolt Sliding Door Locks
One simple type designed to secure sliding doors is called a two-bolt locking system. You can find these locks online or in a reputable hardware store. They are simple to install and can be installed at any height on the door. A two-bolt lock works by sliding a strong steel bolt into the frame when switched into the locked position. This system adds an extra level of protection to the latch.
Smart Locks for Sliding Glass Doors
This new technology is revolutionizing how we secure our homes. Though few models are currently available, there are a few types of smart locks for sliding doors. For example, Padiolock is a keyless option that allows homeowners to lock and unlock a sliding glass door. It can be activated from inside or outside the house. Using this type of electronic lock usually boosts security as they are stronger and more tamper-resistant than standard slider door locks. Plus, homeowners report keeping the door locked more often because it’s so easy to unlock when needed. They are also easier to unlock than a traditional keyed lock mechanism in case of a fire or other type of emergency.
Like other residential smart electronic locks and smart garage locks, they are convenient, secure, and intuitive for users. Using a keypad, you and your family can simply enter a code to gain entry to the home. Then, you can provide temporary guest code access to friends, house sitters, dog walkers, cleaners or other authorized service providers. Smart locks for sliding doors offer the same convenient programming options to allow or cancel access for certain user codes or to change codes at any time.
Address Your Home Security Concerns
Sliding glass doors are beautiful and functional features of a home. But they don’t have to compromise your peace of mind. With a few simple preventative measures, your sliding glass door can be enjoyable and secure.