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Installing Deadbolt Can Lock In Peace of Mind


I know from personal experience that burglars and vandals have a field day when they come across an exterior door unprotected by a deadbolt. Even a door equipped with a high-quality lockset is an easy target because the latch might not extend far enough into the door frame to withstand a sharp kick.

A well-placed boot will tear the strike plate loose and splinter the jamb, providing easy access to a house. Installing a deadbolt in addition to the lockset you already have solves the problem.

When you buy a lock, don't look for bargains. There might not appear to be differences between a $6 deadbolt and a $16 model. But there are. Stick with a name brand. I've had good luck with Baldwin and Schlage hardware.

If you're willing to spend an extra $10, you'll get a deadbolt three times as strong as the economy model. Look for a hardened-steel bolt that extends at least an inch into the doorjamb.

For doors that contain glass or entries with sidelights, I stay away from locks with a thumb latch on the inside. A burglar can break the glass and unlock the door.

For these cases, a deadbolt with a key inside and outside is my favorite, but this choice is controversial because it makes it harder to get the door open in a hurry.

That is a concern in case of a fire, especially if you have young kids. In these cases, it's a good idea to keep a key near the door but out of sight and reach of someone on the outside. Some building codes require that at least one entry have a thumb-turn latch on the inside. Bottom line: Check your local building code before deciding on which type to install.

Even a top-quality deadbolt is only as good as the strength of the doorjamb. Some manufacturers reinforce the bolt with a steel pocket that is mounted in the jamb behind the strike plate. I like to go one step further. When we install deadbolts, we add an extra piece of steel strapping to make sure the bolt won't blow out the back of the jamb if it is kicked.

We take off the door casing and install the strapping on the inside edge of the jamb, right behind the strike plate.

Use 2-inch screws, and rout a small hollow in the back of the casing to accommodate the strapping. We use flat stock about three-quarters-inch wide by one-eighth-inch thick by 6 to 8 inches long for the strapping.

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