Letter Re: Securing Bedroom Doors Against Home Invaders

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I will try to keep this short. Hopefully my question might come in handy for a number of your readers. First, thank you for your site and your publications. I am almost finished with “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It” and am about 50 pages into your “Rawles Gets You Ready” family preparedness course. So far I am loving them both. I am reading quickly through them first and next my wife and I will study them thoroughly together, adapting the information and creating our “list of lists.”

Now, I have a question for you or perhaps your readers. I live in a suburb of Denver, though a fairly distant one. Our town is wonderful, and are area is very safe, relatively speaking. We own our home outright, and we are very blessed. That said, due to a handful of reasons, relocation is not an option for us. Therefore, my goal has been to not only stock up, but to fortify my home against those who may not be prepared WTSHTF. Your resources are getting me through most of my preparations, but my question has to do with fortification and the securing of some of my home.

Specifically, the design of our house is such that the master bedroom and my girls’ room would be very defensible and secure if only I could install the most secure doors possible. It may seem like overkill, but the peace of mind I would have by doing this would do wonders for my sleeping when things go bump in the night or worse. The rooms are connected via the closets and soon I will be putting in a doorway between the two. The bedroom doors themselves have no exposed wall on either side, but instead fit perfectly into entry hallways, for lack of a better way of describing them. The girls’ room is a single wide, “normal” door. Unfortunately, the master is a double wide typical door. The latter will prove more difficult to secure, which is another reason why I want a professional to help me.

While I am trying to learn more and more about these kinds of things, I would like to have secure doors installed ahead of my learning curve, and so I am looking for some advice.

Basically, I am hesitant to simply start calling around for contractors and asking them if they can do the job because, especially in this economic climate, I can imagine most of them claiming they can do anything. Money is a big issue and I don’t have much of it, so I need to make sure it is done correctly the first time. So, does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations for me? I will need to have someone do it for me as I don’t have the tools or know-how. I need it to be done right the first time. I am concerned about asking just any contractor to do the job, and I am not sure what I would ask for exactly either, in order to avoid mistakes and confusion. On the other hand, I would imagine that the job would be too small for companies that specialize in secure building.

So there you have it. I think there are probably a lot of people like me who are not able to relocate or establish a more secure retreat, and who will have to make the best of what they have and where they are. Securing one’s home is something most of us will have to address sooner or later, and the sooner the better. Furthermore, money will often mean that building a Safe Room from scratch is out of the question and smaller measures like securing doors, walls, etc. may be all one can do. We are the people who are wanting more than the average person but are not able to take advantage of what places like Safecastle and Hardened Structures have to offer. And some are even more like me in that they are really out of their element when it comes to this stuff.

In addition to being a wise investment for TEOTWAWKI, it is also a very responsible and reassuring measure to take in case of home invasion or break-ins. If I can only get my doors established, I will have very little fear if I hear someone break in in the night. Instead, I will have time to reinforce my doors, check my outside video cameras from my bedroom, know that my girls are safe and with me, and contact help via my multiple communication options in my room. And of course, I will be able to establish a position with my firearms if for some ridiculous reason the intruder is determined to get to me. I don’t believe it is overkill, but being a responsible father.

Thank you for your time. God bless you and your work. – Dan M.

JWR Replies: Typical American home construction since the 1940s has used sheetrock (aka gypsum board) for interior partition walls. So if you beef up any interior doors (typically by replacing them with solid core doors, adding longer hinge screws, deadbolt locks, and/or door bars), then keep in mind that the adjoining walls will then become the most likely point of entry. These walls can be kicked through, in very little time. Once breached, since typical stud spacing is 16 or even as much as 24 inches apart (in non-code regions), home invaders can then just walk in to the adjoining room. Therefore, short of beefing up the walls themselves, by beefing up your bedroom doors, all you’ve done is bought yourself a bit of extra time. Keep a cell phone handy by your bedside, since hard wire phone lines can be cut. Every teenage and adult member of the family should also be thoroughly trained with firearms, and keep both a gun and a powerful flashlight (such as a SureFire) by their bedside at all times. Your beefed up doors will hopefully provide enough of a delay so that you’ll have 911 in one hand, and 1911 in the other by the time that the bad guys breach your bedroom door or partition wall.

On a related note, for new construction, and remodels, I’ve recommended that my consulting clients use 3/4 inch plywood or OSB for one side of their bedroom walls. When this sheeting is attached with drywall screws, los malo hombres will exhaust themselves by the time they ever get through a wall that is thus reinforced.