French Door Exterior Locks

French door exterior locks are the most important hardware components of French doors, given the amount of glass used in the panels and the split design at the centre. Read our guide for more facts and information…

French doors are typically outbound doors and are always installed in pairs.  Generally, they open to patios, gardens and balconies to let in natural light and allow exterior views. The presence of large amounts of glass makes them vulnerable, posing security threats. Nevertheless, they are a favorite for front entrance doors because of their beautiful architecture and style. It is therefore, important to install robust exterior locks to ensure home security.

Essential Safety Features

French doors with improper locking systems can be simply kicked open to crack the wood, or the glass panes can be broken to access the door bolt. In this day and age, the Internet is the best information source even for burglars, who can access lock-picking strategies from video sharing websites and order master keys online. Therefore, a robust security system is essential for any home, particularly with outbound French doors that are constructed with multiple glass panes. Key-in-the-doorknob styles are too convenient for experienced burglars. While choosing exterior locks with throw-bar mechanism, a longer throw bar with a corresponding wider skirting on the door will be a better choice. Most often, the throw bar is kept small to prevent protrusion into the glass area. Multi-point latching system involving the head and sill of both doors, and an additional third bold on the active door, allows for better security.

Conventional Lock Systems

Traditionally, paired doors, such as French doors used surface mounted bolt on one of the doors, with the other door retained with a rabbet. This allowed the doors to be swung open for easy access to the patio or garden. Sometimes, both the active and stationary doors were installed with these bolts. Installing a bar across the doors served to secure the entire door unit.  Flush locks and doorknob locking systems were introduced later.

Suggestions for Installation

A deadbolt lock made of solid steel provides the best level of security, provided it is fixed at least six inches from the glass panel. Double deadbolt locks can also be installed, but the inside key must be easily accessible for all the inmates of the house for exit during emergencies. If the local fire codes permit, mortising bolts into the frame of the door increase the security.  Flush bolts on the active door are also safe on exterior doors when the inmates are away. Panic-proof deadbolts open from the inside, but they must not be installed near a window or glass pane. Auxiliary locks are also preferred by many people as they augment the existing locking system.

French door exterior locks should be chosen with utmost care, without compromising on quality, cost and features. As they are a vital part of the security system, insurance companies set the annual premium based on their features, and French doors are already exposed to higher premiums because of their predominant glass design. Hence, investing in a reliable lock system is vital.

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