I see a lot of townhouses being built around Seattle with inappropriate strike plates installed on outside doors. A strike plate is the metal thing on your doorframe that the deadbolt slides into when you lock your door. Usually the problem is the installers use short woodscrews, a doorknob strike for the deadbolt, or they don’t align the strike correctly. Sometimes there is no strike installed at all. Often the strike plate is too thin to accomplish much. These are problems because your deadbolt can only be effective if both it and the strike plate are installed correctly. You can have the best deadbolt in the world but if the strike isn’t installed correctly a good solid kick will blow the doorframe out. The bolt will go right through the wood in your door frame. I have responded to calls to see the entire door and door frame kicked in with footprints going right over the door!
You need a properly installed strike plate but don’t take my word for it. See what the SPD has to say about the subject.
If the screws are long enough to reach the stud behind your doorframe then it will be much harder to kick your door down. Unfortunately all too often the guy who installs the lock is in too much of a hurry and screws the strike in with short 1/2″ woodscrews. You are lucky if he installs the proper strike too. I frequently see doorknob strike plates being used instead of proper deadbolt strike plates. That’s odd because it means that somebody had to buy another doorknob strike plate instead of using the strike plate that came in the box with the deadbolt. You are even luckier if the installer put the strike plate in the correct place! A good 50% of the first time customers I visit have misaligned strike plates. It is easy enough to fix this error, but it can mean unsightly holes or bare wood is left where the strike plate used to be. You can also grind the strike plate a little bit to make up for misalignment but this changes a door’s fire rating and also might weaken the strikeplate rendering it pointless.
If you don’t have a security strike and somebody kicks your door it is much more likely that the entire frame will get blown out. DJ Armor makes a nice product that allows a victim of a break-in or attempted break-in to fix a door jamb or door frame. In the picture to the side I’ve actually replaced the wood behind the strike plate because the wood was splintered for four feet. If only six inches were blown out you could use this product without replacing the door jamb. There was so much damage because this door had two deadbolts so it must have been quite a large man to kick this door in. One of the deadbolts was even a Medeco deadbolt with the standard strike that comes with it. Interestingly the burglars in this situation actually hammered the Medeco deadbolt to the side to neutralize it. They couldn’t have done this if the icepick shield was installed.
Schlage’s B60 locks come with a pretty decent strikeplate and two long screws. If this strikeplate is installed properly your door can handle several more kicks than if a doorknob strike and 1/2″ screws are used. Schlage deadbolts also come with a cover plate that goes over the strike plate. The B560 locks come with a cup strike that is even more sturdy with three long screws. They are a lot more work to mortise out and as a consequence people rarely install them.
Aftermarket strike plates come in a variety of shapes and sizes but usually they are made of thicker metal and have four or more long screws. They are far more substantial than a regular strike plate and make it much less likely that somebody will kick your door down.
If you want me to install better strike plates on your property here are the prices:
- $75 Service call to North Seattle
- about $20-30 labor to install a strike plate
- $10-20 in parts depending on what kind of strike you need
- $15 extra on the weekend and after 6 pm.
If you have a solid door and a solid door frame there is no reason your door should be easy to kick down. Get a strike installed correctly before you need one. If you have been the victim of a crime as a result of your door being kicked in, nobody needs to tell you the value of a properly installed deadbolt and strike plate. Don’t be a victim again, get a strike plate like the one to the left installed.
If you want to install your own security strike plate you can buy one from me for just a few dollars, or buy one from somewhere on the internet. DJ Armor is also a good manufacturer of security hardware for which I am a dealer.
You can always make your door more secure by using longer screws in your existing deadbolt strike. Many strike plates are installed with very short 1/2″ wood screws but they can be replaced with 3-4 inch long wood screws. Doing so will dramatically increase the security of your door. Assuming that your deadbolt actually extends all of the way into the strike without running into wood, $1 actually can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your deadbolt, though to truly make your door secure against a 200 Ibs guy kicking it in one must consider installing a jamb jacket or security strike and reinforcing their door too.