Armor Concepts’ Door Armor: A Review – Seattle's Maple Leaf Locksmith LLC – (206)335-4559

Armor Concepts’ Door Armor: A Review

I don’t want to sound like a shill but let’s get this out of the way first: I think the “Jamb Protector” these folks make is probably the best security improvement most people can make if they already have a decent deadbolt and they install it properly. I have been installing these for years, before they were sold in the big box stores. They have kind of a shoddy marketing department but I’m a believer because I’ve seen their products stop breakins and I’ve fixed lots of frame damage after breakins with them. Now, on to the review.

I think most people will buy the “Door Armor Max” set. It comes with the venerable “jamb protector” pictured below which is essentially a 48″ long strike plate. It comes with screws that are longer than 3″. This will spread the force of an attempted breakin across a much wider area than even the best deadbolt strike and I would say that this is the most important piece of the set. This part alone is very good for fixing frame damage after a break-in, especially if the frame was split or even worse if parts of the frame are missing (see bottom of page).

The “Hinge Shield” after install. Force is distributed over a very large amount of wood. To get the door to shut snugly, lip cut off lip strike.
Here is a cup strike that was destroyed by somebody prying open a door with a crowbar. They got in.

The set also comes with some “Door Shields” that slide over the edge of the door. If you mortise these in they will be flush with the edge of the door. If your house is of new construction it may be better not to mortise them in. Many new houses have a quarter inch gap between the door and frame, you want to keep that gap as small as possible. Surface mount everything and all of a sudden the gap will be much smaller.

On that note, there is an important thing to remember with these long screws: if you overtighten them they will actually drag the doorframe over and if you aren’t careful it will pull your door out of alignment and maybe pull your doorframe away from the door edge far enough that it no longer latches! It could also cause your hinges to squeak annoyingly which is a symptom of their coming premature failure. This isn’t discussed in their documentation. I would advise you to get a 5/32″ drill at least 4″ long to drill pilot holes and also a self-centering drill bit. It will make it easier to get the screws flush (as they can be, more on this later) without throwing the doorframe out of alignment.

Moving on to maybe the most interesting part because it is also the least well designed: the “hinge shield”. The idea is good and Armor Concepts is correct that the hinges are a weak point for a lot of doors with only 1/2″ screws. Additionally I cannot say that I could make a better product. What I will point out are the flaws that I see in this product: if installed, they prevent the door from shutting easily because they block the hinge from closing and when the door is forced close bends the hinge and may cause premature failure of that hinge. This is exacerbated by the fact that the screwheads for this product are of a larger diameter than the taper of the holes in the “hinge shield” and so they don’t actually go flush no matter how much you tighten the screw.

It is therefore my recommendation to not use the hinge shield and instead replace the screws in your hinges with 3.5″ deck screws. It may be that Armor Concepts has done some comparisons between doorframes that have inexpensive hinges with long screws and their product with there being some benefit to doors with their product but as somebody who fights doors with bad hinges or improperly hung doors once a week, I cannot bring myself to condone a product that purposefully spreads a hinge.

Speaking of spreading a hinge I didn’t see this in their documentation when I installed one of these sets earlier this week but here’s a tip: if your door is springing open after installing the hinge shield and it is hard to shut the solution is either to mortise your hinges in at an angle so there is space for the hinge shield when the door is shut (hard) or you have to bend your hinge (easy). The easiest way to do that is to take your trusty 5/32″ drill bit from earlier and stick it between the two parts of the hinge right next to the swivel point and shut the door CAREFULLY so you don’t pinch your fingers and also so you don’t overly bend your hinge. It should be done incrementally until there is an acceptable amount of force to shut your door. If you overdo it, the door might sag and drag on the threshold and then you will have to replace your hinge or hire a handyman to fix it. You have to do this on all hinges on the door too if you want the door to remain level. I hope that I communicated how to do this properly but it is probably confusing.

More tips on installing these sets: if you want to properly set up the strike for the latch you will need to cut off the lip of your latch because you can’t install the jamb shield over a lip strike properly. My solution is to cut the lip off the strike and reinstall. That way it will properly position the door against the weatherstripping and set your deadbolt up to work correctly. If you can see daylight through the edge of your door or feel a breeze consider doing this. There is no good way to use the jamb shield on its own to position doors properly for the deadbolt to work smoothly unless you add a ton of weatherstripping in my experience. One elegant way to do it is to have a strike underneath the jamb shield.

If I were to recommend improvements to the manufacturer I would say that the number one improvement would be to make sure that the screw heads are the same size as the countersink in the hinge shield. Second I would say they should include a lipless adjustable strike that will work underneath the jamb shield, especially important in this age of electronic deadbolts. Other than that there isn’t much to be improved! Hats off to Armor Concepts not only for a well-designed product but also for making bank selling it through Lowe’s. I remember maybe five years ago before Lowe’s carried it calling their business number and some guy in his car answered. They probably have a secretary now.

Fix-A-Jamb installed after a break-in where a cup strike failed. The owner told me that the cup strike had prevented numerous attmpted break-ins over the last few years. This may look trashy but it is secure and a lot cheaper than a new door and frame. For back of house where customers won’t see it the owner thought it was acceptable. He also thought saving a couple thousand dollars was acceptable!

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Bjørn Madsen

I am the Seattle locksmith you've been looking for. High Quality work at a reasonable price delivered in a timely fashion.