French door security

valleymagpieAugust 27, 2008

Hi All,

We are building a house and will have Sierra Pacific inswing French doors opening to the deck. Although these doors have multipoint locking systems, it seems to me that all one has to do is break the glass, flip up the handle or turnbolt or whatever, and the door is unlocked--quickly and quietly. Am I wrong?

I've searched the Internet and cannot find what I consider reliable French door security. I'm thinking I might just make a bar and bracket to go across the door. It's all I can think of!

Thanks for your help.

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calbay03

For a competent thief, chances are he/she can disable our door locks and enter without ever touching the glass. For those who go after the glass, it is not as simple.

I am assuming building code is all the same across the country and if so, all newer (as in after code took effect) large glass doors, be it sliders or French, must use tempered glass.

Tempered glass is stronger than normal glass when in place and can in theory withstand more pounding than normal glass before breaking. When tempered glass does break, it breaks completely into little glass beads. Unlike normal glass, tempered glass will not tolerate a small hole or a small crack. You can read up on why but any damage to its structural integrity in one tiny spot will result in the glass breaking completely. So there is no way to quietly cut a nice clean little hole in a piece of French door tempered glass.

For security, it will depend on your area and the level of protection you desire. There are several options depending on architectural concerns and practical needs. There are many glass breakage alarms in the market that can easily detect break-in. Some are activated by attaching to and sensing the glass breaking; some rely on noise from the specific direction of the glass.

Another effective way is to install perimeter alarm with lights. Anyone of a specific height approaching the door will cause lights and alarm to sound. This is common in French that opens to a deck with a railing and gate. There is normally a gate alarm and then the perimeter alarm.

A more aggressive approach is to consider installing an European aluminum shutter. These units roll up into a box over the door on the outside hidden from view when not in use. When needed, they can be lowered manually or electrically to cover the entire door. It will take a circular saw a good long while to cut through that thing.
An even more novel but more expensive approach is to ask about Florida Dade County (or similar) approved storm-resistant glass. These are supposed to have been tested by shooting a 2x4 at it at hurricane speed. One can go as far as bullet-resistant glass of the right class. THese are expensive too. The hope here is they can withstand some pounding without breaking.

Again, except in the case of the aluminum shutter, someone hell-bent on entering your home via those glass doors will find a way either by brute force or other means. So as long as we only have glass, we have to also know what to do if an entry does occur. Chances are that nothing will ever happen but it does pay to be a bit security conscious.

My family happens to live off the beaten path so these are real issues we have discussed and acted upon.

I will suggest a combination of the above approaches depending on your sense of your neighborhood and the level of comfort (in feeling secure and still enjoy the French) you want. I will further recommend NOT ignoring what you can do if an entry does happen; especially if it happens at the worst time possible (Murphy's Law). Do consider what you can do to protect yourself and your family inside your home.

GOod luck!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 12:57AM
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dgmarie

We have many french doors. We also have motion detectors. It won't do a thief any good to enter our home if he cannot take two steps inside without the alarm going off. Additionally, a glass breaking alarm is a bad idea. We've known people to have these go off during a thunderstorm and they aren't that reliable.

I'd suggest you alarm all the doors and use tempered glass. Get yourself a motion detector (several) and have them put in. While you're at it, be sure your fire system is hooked to service as well (won't do you anygood to have the smoke detector going off when no one is home to call the fire department).

And I'd avoid Brinks or any ANY of the "home protection" services which make their money off the monitoring and provide minimal actual installation. If you're doing new construction now is the time to alarm all windows and doors.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 12:22PM
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mcsbldr

As mentioned above, the simplest approach might be to use a specialty glass product. Something as simple as incorporating a layer of clear plastic within the tempered glass would provide a greater amount of protection. As is done in vehicle windshields that are also tempered, the laminate (plastic) keeps the glass together when it breaks into the typical small pieces. This would greatly reduce the ability to gain easy access through the glass area of a full-light door. This is similar to the approach used for "hurricane glass".

Also, contrary to information that some door product representatives may provide, the multi-point locking systems found on many modern doors are not specifically designed for added security. Rather, this modern device is utilized in energy efficient door products to keep the door panels straight and flat against the frame weather-stripping at the top, middle and bottom, just as the hinges do on the opposite jamb.

Lastly, if you are located in an area where theft or break-ins are common, I'd assume that a burglar would look to a window as an easier point of entry than that of a glass door. Breaking a piece of standard tempered glass would create quite a loud disturbance.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 12:23PM
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valleymagpie

Thank you all! I've had a little trouble with my Internet and that's why I'm late posting. Everything everyone says is making me feel better. Our doors are tempered. DH thinks I am paranoid, but that's just how it is. Our neighborhood is pretty safe and we have neighborhood watch but I still want to feel safe in my cocoon!

I think I will look into alarm systems. Our other doors will be pretty well protected and I will have some kind of grates on our workshop and garage windows that are dug in a little so they're low to the ground.

Does anyone know a good/simple alarm system that doesn't cost a lot?

Thanks everyone so much!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 11:35PM
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afsa

A German Sheppard or Rottweiler are relatively affordable

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:25AM
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natej

I have been looking for some kind of security for my french doors for awhile now, and i just stumbled on this new security door lock called the doorchucky. I was watching the video they had on the site and it made me realize that this would work really good on my french doors. it might help you out take a look. the website was http://www.doorchucky.com

Here is a link that might be useful: french door security

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:56PM
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cnherrick

afsa is right. Get the police to come to your 'hood association and give you a seminar on security and in a moment of candor they will tell you that your best protection is a dog.

We have 5 dogs. We don't lock our doors.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 6:57PM
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bickybee

In our neighborhood there have been recent break-ins where the intruder maced the dog.

We have a dog too, but now I feel a little less able to rely on her for deterrent or protection

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 4:48PM
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andreagold

Over time due to non-usage, the window and their latches can get clogged. As you have mentioned you have never locked in last five years, they have probably become paralytic and have forgotten their real job. This is a point where you’ll need to regenerate their ability, for which I suggest you seek professional assistance. A professional should be in a good position to decide if there is a way out or the windows need replacement.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2014 at 4:09PM
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millworkman

andreagold, you do realize the last post is almost 5 years old and no where do they state what your speaking of. Me thinks you may be attempting to spam this site!!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2014 at 10:35AM
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    Bookmark   December 22, 2014 at 12:01PM
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