Who doesn’t like French doors? They look pretty, allow us a wider view of the outside and bring in plenty of sunlight. A room literally lights up with an addition of a French door/window. But as awesome as they are, French doors come with their own set of concerns, with security being the first in the list.
Choosing between aesthetics and safety might seem like a straightforward no-brainer decision, but if you are going to live somewhere for a long time, wouldn’t having a pleasing ambiance be an option worth considering?
Don’t be torn anymore, dear reader! You don’t necessarily have to choose between one, and to help you get the best of both worlds – here are a few things you can do to make sure that your aesthetically pleasing French door is secure as well.
But before we get on with the actual list for French door security, let’s first take a quick look at some basic information about French doors. After all, the more you know, the better it is! Read on…
TABLE OF CONTENTS
French Doors: Origin and Types
French doors or windows are hinged double doors that contain multiple see-through panels, glass mostly, supported by a central frame. It is believed that they originated in 17th century France, toward the end of the Renaissance, and were popularized in entire Europe by the end of the 19th century.
The versions we see today are different from the traditional ones not only in their design and purpose but material as well. While earlier, glass was the favored material for French doors with either wood or iron framework, now a variety of materials like PVC and aluminum are used in their construction as well. These materials are light yet sturdy, making them a perfect fit for modern architectural purposes.
The different types include Exterior French doors (generally opening into the garden), Interior (between two rooms), and Sliding French doors (also known as bi-fold doors). There are numerous styles as well, perfect for every setting and two common types – Inward opening and Outward opening, based on the direction they open into. Sliding doors are most space and cost-efficient. They are also relatively more secure.
Inward vs. Outward French Doors
Apart from the direction, there isn’t much difference between inward and outward opening French doors. Neither take much space and, depending on the quality, are weatherproof as well as waterproof. It’s all up to the person’s preference which ones they want in their home.
Though across Europe, the outward opening French doors are considered a default, the inward opening doors do not lack in popularity either. That is one of the reasons why our main focus today is exclusively Inward opening French doors, and we will be seeing the different ways to secure them, but before that, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of French doors.
French Doors: Pros and Cons
Like everything else, French doors have their own benefits and drawbacks. According to your situation or preferences, these points can play a pivotal role in your final decision whether to go for French doors or not and what kind if you really want one installed at your home. Here are the main points to consider regarding French doors –
1. They are aesthetically pleasing.
2. They are easy to install and use.
3. They are also efficient as they don’t take up much space and make the room look brighter and bigger. So they are perfect for smaller rooms and spaces.
1. The security is always a concern with traditional French doors. Though nowadays, many of them come with amped-up features and multipoint locks.
2. It is not suitable for private rooms unless you plan to install heavy curtains too.
3. They cost relatively more, especially if you want good quality ones
How to Secure French Doors that Open Inwards
The traditional view toward French doors is that they are not secure enough and are easy to break and enter. While that may have been an irrefutable fact back in the day, now there are more ways than one to properly secure your double French doors, to amp up their safety, and also enjoy all the benefits they bring.
7 Products that Can Helps You Secure Your French Doors
Here are 7 products that are easy to use and work quite well when it comes to securing the double French doors:
1. A Single Sided Deadbolt
One of the best options to go for when considering French door security. Since they are weak in the center where the two leaves connect, using a single-sided deadbolt that locks both the doors together and using two other deadbolts to secure the doors from top and bottom is the most efficient way to go.
But you might need to call in a professional to fix them up normally, and french doors don’t have pre-existing space to accommodate deadbolts. Also, make sure you pick the right quality deadbolts for maximum security. ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Grade 1 deadbolt is the best when considering durability and strength.
Use a Grade 2 deadbolt at the minimum if you want to make sure your deadbolt doesn’t give way with just a few kicks from the intruder. But since the cost difference between Grade 1 and 2 deadbolts isn’t all that different, why not go for the best? Just remember, no matter which one you go for, proper installation is the key for any product to work!
A Nightlock is also called a door barrier/barricade and is pretty effective in securing all kinds of doors, French or regular. It has two parts, the base, which is fixed on the floor, and the slider plate, which is attached to the door. When you need to close it, just slide the plate in the base, and you are all set!
It is one of the safest, easiest, and the most durable ways to make your door secure. Since a nightlock relies on the floor for support, it is difficult to break through if installed properly, of course. It can be easily removed and put into place and won’t give away unless someone from the inside opens it.
The reason it is called a nightlock is that if you are using it on your front door, you will have to wait until everyone is home. But using it on your back door or french doors leading to the backyard, you can keep it up all day and not worry about safety. Quite convenient, ain’t it?
3. Cremone Bolt
It is a surface mounted vertical rod with a handle. It is common to see cremone bolts on a French door as it doesn’t need any chipping to install it into place and is easy to lock into position, securing the door. The rod can be locked into position, either at the top or bottom of the door, with just a turn of the handle.
Because they are not internally attached and are mounted on the surface instead, they are used more for aesthetic purposes than for security. They can be either installed only on the inactive leaf or on both the doors. But they are very convenient to use, and any uncertainty regarding them can easily be overcome by pairing them with other types of bolts to secure the doors properly.
4. Flush Bolt/Slide Bolt
A manual flush bolt or slide bolt consists of a lever that is used to move it into or out of the lock. It’s easy to use and install, and you can keep the inactive leaf of your French door locked without any trouble. But make sure to use two of them, one at the top and one at the bottom, going into the floor, so the door stays in place properly.
You would need a professional’s help in installing them most probably. Because the doors have to be drilled into to make space for them and making sure that the flush bolts are installed properly is of utmost importance too. After all, any hardware is just as effective as how well secured it is into place. You can DIY too, just make sure to read the instructions properly!
5. Straight Handle Lock
A straight handle lock (also known as a Patlock) makes the best choice if both the sides of your french door have a straight handle. This is also very easy to use and doesn’t need any extra steps like an installation as opposed to other products on this list. You can just slip it over each straight handle and lock it, securing both the handles together.
It doesn’t need keys either and is easy to disengage from inside but still holds the handles together, making it impossible to rotate and thus open. Though for the best result, use it in combination with other fitted locks. It ensures extra safety.
6. Multipoint Lock
A lot of these doors already come with multipoint locks to enhance security, but in case yours doesn’t, you can easily get one installed. Though it would involve your furnished door to be chipped at different places as it is installed inside the doors, and this might ruin the finish of your French door. So make sure to request it while placing your order.
This is a hardware that locks into multiple positions at once, varying from 3 to 5 points for different models, securing the door overall, and basically consists of a long rod (like a cremone bolt) that slides into position at the turn of the handle.
7. A Window Film for Glass
Since glass makes up the major portion of your traditional french doors, it is important to secure it as much as possible. For this, you can use a window film to cover your glass in its entirety and protect it from giving away too soon. You can easily get this glass security film/window film from any hardware store or online shop.
They are pretty easy to install by yourself too. The best way to go through it is to remove the window panel, cover it with the security film properly, and then restore it into place carefully. Or you can just call in for a professional if you are apprehensive about DIY.
Though these window films are somewhat thick, they are clear and do not affect the visual much. At most, they make the glass look like windshield glass, but you can still see clearly and with an extra layer of security. The glass will still break when hit, but it won’t shatter, and the film will keep it together and intact, making it harder for someone to get through.
You can also go for a laminated glass instead of installing a security film. The effect is pretty much the same, but it will save you some extra effort.
Other Ways to Make Sure Your French Doors are Secured
1. Impact-Resistant Glass
An impact-resistant is different from tempered glass, and it is way stronger. While a tempered glass can still be broken and sustains quite some damage, though it is able to hold itself together, an impact-resistant glass can withstand much more force without falling apart.
In the areas prone to regular hurricanes, it is advised to use impact-resistant glass in windows as it decreases the damage and injuries by a lot. So if you are buying a new french door, you can specify the use of an impact-resistant glass instead of a normal or tempered one while placing the order.
It is a lot secure, and you can rest at ease knowing that your doors, though pretty and classy in look, can hold their own against both intruders and harsh winds.
2. Jamb Reinforcement Kit
The jamb is the frame that supports the doors and connects them to the wall. How secure your door is, French or otherwise, also depends on how sturdy the jamb is, and thus reinforcing the jamb time and again or as needed, is very important. A jamb reinforcement kit includes at least three different products –
- Jamb Shield
- Door Shields
- Hinge Shields
These products go over the existing hinges, lock and strike plates, and help reinforce them so that they don’t give away easily. Though based on the size, a few latches and strike plate might have to be removed. A few kits also include Nightlocks (or door barrier/barricade) along with other tools.
They are also easy to install and come with custom screws, so it might be a good idea to invest in one, especially if you want to amp up the security of your French door, or any other door for that matter!
How Do You Keep French Doors from Blowing Open?
This is one of the more widespread concerns when it comes to French doors. Since a lot of French doors these days are made of lighter materials, unless properly secured, it’s easy for them to blow open with the slightest wind. And though not a major trouble most of the time, it can still be a nuisance.
Any of the products mentioned above can be used to secure the French doors properly and prevent them from blowing open at inconvenient times. Out of these, the single-sided deadbolt is no doubt the best option for all the reasons already mentioned. But if you don’t want to keep your French doors shut tightly all time, there are a few more options you can choose from.
A door restrictor or door stopper, for example, can be used in a number of ways. To prevent the door from closing, from opening or for keeping them open at a slight angle, so enough fresh air comes in but not much dust. If the frame of your door is iron or similar, you can use magnets to keep them attached, unless a bit of force is exerted to move them.
A simple hook and latch can be used too, for keeping them loosely closed and kind of strung together, so it doesn’t get too stifling but also doesn’t blow open from the slightest wind. And of course, making use of the things already lying around is something all of us do every once in a while! So let your creativity cast its magic and do tell me if you come up with a good idea.
A French door is amazing, whether it’s the visual appeal or practicality, and with just a bit of tinkering and trying things out, any issues you might face can easily be resolved. So don’t let anyone tell you that you absolutely have to make a choice between aesthetics and safety. With the right tools at hand, and of course, a little help, you can have the best of both worlds!