You can spend hundreds on a fancy “pick-proof” dead bolt for your entry door. But you're kidding yourself if you think that'll stop most burglars. The truth is, most don't know how to pick a lock. They gain entry with one really well-placed kick or body slam that splits the doorjamb (and often the door as well), and they walk right in. You can stop burglars in their tracks by beefing up your door and jamb with reinforcing hardware. The components cost about $120 and take about an hour to install. Here's how to do it.
Start by measuring the entry door thickness and the spacing between the entry knob and the dead bolt cylinder. Then buy either a single or a double wrap-around door reinforcement plate kit (less than $20 at any home center or hardware store) and four 1-1/2-in.-long stainless steel wood screws. Then get a doorjamb reinforcement kit (StrikeMaster II is one brand; around $80 from homedepot.com or through our affiliation with amazon.com).
Remove the entry knob and dead bolt cylinder. Then remove the dead bolt and latch and toss the short screws. Install the wrap-around door reinforcement plate and reinstall the latch and dead bolt plates using the longer stainless steel screws (Photo 1).
Extend the pencil marks to the door stop. Then line up the center of the latch alignment hole on the reinforcement plate with the centerline mark. Slide the plate into place. Predrill two holes and run the supplied screws almost all the way into the jamb with your drill. Stop before they're seated or you'll bow the door frame.
Next, mark both the latch and the dead bolt “centers” on the strike side of the jamb (Photo 2). Remove the latch and strike plates and weather stripping from the jamb. But leave any weather stripping that's attached to the door stop. Then align the reinforcement plate, predrill a few mounting holes and add screws (Photo 3). Check the reinforcement plate alignment before snugging the screws by hand. Do not overtighten.
If the prescored dead bolt knockout lines up with the marking along the jamb, remove it and finish installing the remaining screws. If it doesn't line up, drill a new dead bolt hole with a 3/4-in. bimetal hole saw. Finally, replace two screws in each hinge with the longer screws provided in the kit.