The Crime Prevention Website


Improving the security of doors made from other materials

The previous pages have concentrated mainly on doors made from timber, because there are still millions of them out there and some of the work can be easily done by you.  It is fair to say though that during the past 25 years or more many timber doors have been replaced by doors made from a wide variety of materials, which require quite different locking mechanisms and hardware.  Most of the replacement doors you buy today will be complete doorsets; that is the door, the frame and the hardware.  If you are replacing your doors my advice is  always  to buy enhanced security doorsets, because once you have bought them there is nothing extra you will need to do; it’s a sort of ‘job done’.  The standard to look out for is: PAS 24:2012 Enhanced security performance requirements for doorsets and windows in the UK. External doorsets and windows intended to offer a level of security suitable for dwellings and other buildings exposed to comparable risk. (Previously PAS 24: 2007 +A2: 2011  Enhanced  security performance requirements for door assembliesDoors to this standard can be made from U-PVC, aluminium, steel, timber and composite with UPVC, fibreglass, aluminium or steel facings. (See  Enhanced security doorsets )

Here are a few things that can be done to improve the security of existing doors.  

Replacing lock cylinders – important please read

Most of the locks on replacement doors rely on a ‘euro' profile cylinder or ‘oval’ profile cylinder to operate the locking mechanism. In recent years there has been a steady increase in the numbers of burglaries where these cylinders have been attacked to gain entry. 

The police and security industry have known about these problems for several years, but because in the early days the techniques were used rarely and were confined to only a few locations around the UK, these problems were deliberately not broadcast to the public at large for fear of making the problem a lot worse.  

Instead, the security industry quietly and quickly developed measures to protect the cylinders from these attacks. With the methods of attack now widely broadcast across the internet your need to upgrade your door locks and associated hardware has become a lot more important.

Go to Cylinder snapping and bumping for much more information and advice

See DIRECTORY for anti-snap cyclinders

Improving the security of old aluminium sliding doors (Patio Doors)

Many thousands of these have been installed into people’s homes and some of the older ones have quite poor security.  In fact it’s not unusual to find catches made from plastic!  Some of them can also be lifted off their tracks using the garden spade and back in the 70s and 80s this type of forced entry was very common.  Nowadays you can buy sliding doors that have been certificated to PAS 24:2012 and so please make sure that if you are going to replace them you buy ones to that standard. (See  Enhanced security doorsets   )

For existing doors there are two things you can do immediately to improve the security.  The first thing is to make sure they cannot be lifted off their tracks.  You can stop this from happening by opening the sliding door and fitting a timber batten into the top frame to further limit the distance by which the door can be lifted. 

The locking can be improved by fitting a pair of patio door locks.  One can be fitted either into the bottom frame immediately next to the fixed door or onto the stile of the fixed door.  A second patio door lock can be fitted in the same locations but at the top of the fixed door.  Although these locks will prevent sliding and lifting I would still use the batten to prevent lifting just in case.  The locks are fitted into these positions because if force is applied then the locks are forced into the fixed door.  If they were fitted onto the other side the forces applied could pull them out.  You will almost certainly have to use self tapping screws to fix these devices (follow the instructions on the packet very carefully) and make sure you don’t accidently hit the glass or you’ll have a big bill to pay. 

Upgrading the fitted locks on your doors

Most insurers specify 5 lever or BS 3621 (BS 8621 or BS 10621) mortice and or rim nightlatches on your doors, unless they have multipoint locking or are PAS 24 enhanced security doorsets.  So what do you do if you want to keep the old door and upgrade the locks?  Unless you know exactly what you are doing then I would again strongly advise you to get the locksmith around.  Some aluminium front doors from the 1970s require rather slim fitting mortice locks, which may not be available from the DIY store and upgrading old U-PVC doors requires a great of knowhow. 

Other lock configurations

It is of course possible to fit additional locks or use different lock configurations on exisiting and new timber doors to gain some additional security.  Take my sister-in-law's old flat door, which was solid core, but only had a roller bolt latch in the centre. My mate, a master locksmith, fitted a pair of BS 8621 mortice locks.  The bottom one had the keyhole about 500mm up from the bottom of the door and the other one had the keyhole about 400mm from the top of the door.  He fitted a pair of hinge bolts and finished the improvements off with both London and Birmingham frame reinforcement bars and a grille on the inside of the small glazed panel. (The locks had thumturns on the inside for emergency escape.)  I appreciate that this arrangement was not technically in line with the building regulations at the time, but she did own the flat and the security arrangements meant she could relax in the certain knowledge that forced entry was highly unlikely.  

Using your multi-point locking door correctly

Lots of people are not using a multi-point locking door correctly and this is leading to thousands of unnecessary burglaries each year. Click here to find out more

Updated November 2014