The hunky bruisers on television do it all the time: The good guys burst through in the nick of time, and bad ones, up to no good, kick in a door with aplomb. Think LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell on NCIS Los Angeles. What isn’t apparent is that NCIS department director Hettie Lange, played by 4’9” actress Linda Hunt, could do the same thing. With only a bit of direction and three or four kicks, so could any 6th grader.
According to the FBI, 70 percent of uninvited bad guys gain access by kicking in the door. It’s easy because less than one inch of soft wood in the doorjamb holds the deadbolt. Even with good locks, the force shatters the wood.
I’ve been a handyman for a long time, and of everything I’ve seen, I am most impressed with an unobtrusive steel door-jamb-reinforcing hardware that is guaranteed to prevent door kick-ins. The two best brands are Door Jamb Armor, which comes with door shields, and Strikemaster. These are long (4 to 5 feet), powder-coated white, steel plates that attach to the doorframe with long screws that anchor them solidly into the wall studs. They have holes that receive the deadbolt and knob latch, thus reinforcing both with steel instead of wood. The Door Shield is vital for a fiberglass door.
A handy do-it-yourselfer who also understands alarm sensors and too-tight cracks can purchase the materials at hardware stores, from the manufacturers, or from me. Professional installation ranges from $240 for a single door to $400 for double doors.
Duncan Cottrell, The Entry Enforcer, is a home improvement technician specializing in Home Intrusion Prevention. He offers door and window reinforcing, free home security assessments, and answers questions at Duncan@EntryEnforcer.com or (404) 289-6960.