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Riverdale Dunthorpe Patrol
P.O. Box 532 Lake Oswego, OR 97034
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Security Tip: Sliding Door Security

Riverdale Dunthorpe Patrol

Sliding Door Security

When installed, sliding glass doors let a lot of light in to our homes and allow for a better view of our property. Unfortunately, sliding doors are also the greatest weakness to the security of our homes. To secure sliding doors, we need to address a few different things: a weak standard lock, the ability to remove the door from the rails and in the case of glass doors, the inherent weakness of the glass. The standard lock installed with glass doors is usually a thin metal hook that can be easily broken if the appropriate force is applied. There are several replacement locks available for purchase, but I don’t think replacing the standard lock will solve any of the other weaknesses, so let’s keep looking.

A common additional protection used to secure a sliding door is any variation of a bar to prevent the doors ability to slide open. Bars work as long as they stay in place, but are easily defeated by reversing the installation process. Sliding doors are installed by inserting the top of the door in to the top rail and lifting the door, then putting the bottom of the door over the bottom rail and setting it down. To remove the door, you just need to lift the door out of the bottom rail of the frame and pushing it in to the house. Now the bar used to keep the door from sliding on the rail is useless. Another downside to the use of a bar is that they are not visually appealing.

To have a secure sliding door, we need to keep the door from sliding open and keep it from being lifted out of the track. Two ways to keep the door from being lifted include opening the door and inserting some screws in to the top of the frame, leaving enough space for the door to slide under the heads, but preventing the door from being lifted high enough to come out of the track. There are also “jimmy plates” that can be installed in the space above the closed door that will provide the same function. You can ask your door installer or search the internet for “auxiliary sliding door locks” and find several companies that sell stronger locks that attach at the top or bottom of the frame and prevent the door from sliding open. These locks are smaller and less obtrusive than a bar. There is also a product that prevents both sliding and the lifting of the door called “Slide Safe” at

Of course the large panels of glass in a glass door can be broken rendering any locks useless. Fortunately there are products that help solve that problem and have some great additional benefits. There are likely other manufacturers, but I know 3M makes a laminate that can be applied to windows. This laminate is used in areas of the country prone to hurricanes and other large storms to protect the windows from the strain of air pressure differences and flying debris, but will also protect your home from a burglar attempting to gain access by breaking the glass. Some variations of the laminate also protect interior contents from the sun’s UV rays that can cause color fading of furniture and carpeting.

I have included some links at the bottom of this page that will take you to some web sites with some reference information about sliding door security.

Photo by Jeremy Levine Design