Make your Apartment Doors and Windows More Secure

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

In my post Five Free Things You can Do Now to be More Prepared, one of the recommended steps was to evaluate the safety of your home or apartment.  If the doors and windows don’t seem too secure to you, now is the time to reinforce them.

Apartment dwellers have the additional challenge of not being able to make major alterations to their structure.  Some apartments allow the residents to obtain their own monitored alarm system, while others do not.  If you are considering an alarm system, read a previous guest post on Tips to Avoid Fraudulent Home Security Deals.  Most leases will not allow you to replace the entire door with a heavier one, as this will alter the uniform appearance of the units.   But there are a few things that may be doable.  (Warning:  Before making these alterations, read your lease and determine what you can and can’t do.  If there is any doubt, check with your landlord-you don’t want to be stuck with a hefty fine or charged against your security deposit for making unauthorized changes.)

1.  Secure the door’s strike plate with longer screws.

What is the strike plate?   The strike plate is the metal part covering the hole in the door frame where the dead bolt  enters.  Before proceeding, remove one screw and measure its size.  The commonly used screws are usually only one inch long .  You can reinforce the strike plate by replacing the one inch screws with 3 1/2 inch screws.  This will secure the strike plate against the frame.  This will not make it completely “kick-proof” but will make it less likely to fall apart with one kick.

2.  Install a dead bolt lock.

If your lease allows it, replace a flimsy dead bolt with a grade one or grade two deadbolt.  It should extend at lease one inch into the door jamb, which is the vertical section of the door frame.

3.  Door and window alarms. 

These are inexpensive door alarm sets that attach to the door frame.  When you are inside, you set the alarm.  If the door is breached, it makes a loud obnoxious noise.  I actually use these and they make a lot of noise when triggered.

door and window alarms

4.   Door Stop Alarm

If you prefer not to attach anything to the door frame, then try the door stop alarm.   Just insert under the closed door, and it will stop a door from being opened.  If anyone tries to open the door, the alarm will sound.   This will work better in a bare floor, with no carpet.

door stop alarm

5.  Secure your Sliding Glass Door.

A low-tech, easy and inexpensive way to make your sliding glass door more secure is to place a heavy stick or rod in the bottom tracks of the sliding door.   You can have a different size rod for when the door is completely closed or if you wanted to leave it a crack open.  As long as the stick is in the track, the sliding door will not open.  There are also key locks available for the top and bottom of sliding door, but again, your lease may or may not allow it.   I have used this method myself and it does work.  Even if you don’t have a sliding glass door, try this low tech door security idea.  (But you may have to be able to undo this when you move)

6.  Security film on windows.

Glass windows can be covered with security film that reinforces the glass.  Another type of privacy film can be used on doors that have glass trim or designs, or side lights that are not covered up.  This is more for privacy to keep passersby from looking into your house.

7.   Leave objects on the window sill that will sound off when moved.

Another low tech method is to leave bells or fine china on the window sill that will sound off if anyone tries to enter through the window.

8.  Heavy duty security bar.

When you are home, you also want to keep your door as secure as possible.  We use this security bar against the door knob at night.  It is another layer of security to deter someone from kicking your door open quickly.

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  1. I LOVE you Bernie! You read my comment! You gave me some info I did not know was available so I will be looking for it now. Thanks for the great article!

  2. Thanks, Bernie. I’ve used the stick in the track before, but had forgotten it. All my windows are double-paned in plastic frames. The sticks will work beautifully in the windows and sliding door (also double-paned) out to the patio. Front door can be improved with longer screws in the butt plate. Already have a good deadbolt, so, with your suggestion implemented, I’ll feel a lot better. Of course the distinctive “click-click” as I pump a shell into the chamber also causes pause…

    1. Hi Glenn, I am glad you found the tips helpful. I only recommended ideas that would work for apartment folks, there were a lot more options for homeowners but not practical for us. Then again, a shotgun is good security feature for homeowners or apartment dwellers alike 🙂

  3. Good suggestions with a couple exceptions / cautions:

    Regarding #1 – be very careful to not tighten those longer screws any tighter than needed to just hold the strike. Overtightening will pull the frame away from the door, leaving a gap which will waste heat and AC energy.

    Regarding #5 – the “stick” needs to be located approximately 1/2 way between the top and bottom of the door. Placing it in the bottom channel allows the door to be leveraged in a way to force it open unless screws are driven into the top to prevent the door from being lifted out of the track.

    Hope these things help someone.

  4. my parents always put a metal rod in all the windows of our apartment & screwed them in place with a mechanical screw driver. Apparently if you do that wrong it can break the windows so we never opened our windows during my entire childhood so they wouldn’t have to do it over & over. Apparently it was against our rental agreement but they figured they’d remove the rods before they moved so as long as they weren’t found out what did it hurt? 20 years later there was an inspection by a new owner of the apartment & he found the rods. Thankfully he didn’t care. He did remove them from a section 8 apartment dweller in the unit as it was against state regulations.

    But they did work! When the apartment was tented & every apartment was broken into, theirs was the only one where the window wasn’t the point of entry. Instead they got in the front door through the standard issue dead bolt that came with the apartment & technically come-to-find-out wasn’t a dead bolt because it had a triangle door insert instead of rectangle or something like that… that’s fixed now.

    1. Hi sk8r, So the metal rods did their job all these years, but the flimsy deadbolt failed! Thanks for sharing this story.

  5. How about a simple door security chain/guard, heavy duty of course. Or maybe a screw in the top of a sliding door or a window lock that only allows a window to be opened a few inches. I might also suggest having a light or two on timers as a general rule for when you’re not home.

  6. Buy two eye bolt lag screws and screw them into each side of your door(s) frame, then put a bungee cord across the door secured by the eye hooks. Lowe’s actually sells a 2foot bungee with carabiner ends that work on a 32 or 36 inch door. just drill a pilot hole directly into the wood trim around the door then hand screw in the eye bolt. It won’t stop someone from getting in but it WILL slow them down. When you move out just wood putty the hole and touch up paint no harm done. Southernprepper1 has a YouTube video on this that’s good…

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