In 2017, there were about 1,401,840 burglaries in the United States. The vast majority of these burglaries involved either forcible entry or unlawful entry into the home. Can your garage door protect your home from a break-in? Without garage door locks, the answer is no.
It’s tempting to think that garage door locks are a waste of money. You might not store anything valuable in the garage, or you might live in an area with low crime rates. However, an unlocked and unlockable garage door offers an easy access point into your home.
Many burgers start by accessing a garage, then find an entry point into the rest of your home from there. And even if the things in your garage don’t have much value, it can still be annoying to replace them. Do you really want to buy a new leafblower or lawnmower?
No matter what’s in your garage, it’s easy and inexpensive to protect it by installing garage door locks. Read on to learn what you need to know before installing your own garage door locks!
Most garages have two types of doors. The first is the overhead door that you drive your car through, typically operated by a remote opener. The second is the entry door for people to walk through. You might have an entry door from your garage to the outside, or from the garage to your house.
The overhead door, as long as it’s protected by an opener, is fairly secure. These doors aren’t easy to open by force, and it’s almost impossible to do so quietly. Just make sure the remote opener is in a safe place, and you won’t need to worry about this entry point.
However, the other entry doors to your garage can offer easy access to the inside of the garage -- or the inside of your house. You’ll want to put locks on these doors so they’re as secure as the overhead doors.
There are a few different options for protecting your garage from intruders. Here are some of the most common types of garage door locks.
Deadbolts are one of the most secure types of lock, while also being inexpensive and easy to install.
With a deadbolt, you’ll need a key to physically move the lock’s mechanism to the “open” or "closed" position. Without the key, it’s incredibly hard to open a deadbolted door by force. Many intruders will give up when the door doesn’t give into their first few attempts to break in.
Digital locks don’t require a key, so you don’t need to worry about what to do when you lose your keys (or get them stolen). You’ll just need to remember the entry code so you can put it in your keypad to open the door. These locks use a regular locking mechanism, like a deadbolt, to secure the door, but have a digital system instead of a key to activate it.
You can change the code as often as you need to for security. One benefit of digital locks is that they can’t be picked, and they often have lifetime warranties in case someone damages them by force. This makes for another very secure lock option.
Go up another security level, and you’ll get an electronic lock. Instead of a keypad, these locks require your fingerprint to open them. You can program the system to recognize and open for the fingerprints of all your family members, for example. Some also offer keypad or key options as an alternative to fingerprints.
Although they’re very secure, these locks often cost a lot, and you might need to pay for professional installation. If you’re very concerned about security, though, an electronic lock can be worth the investment.
Slide bolt locks go on the inside of the garage door, and use a bolt across the edge of the door to make it hard to open from the outside. You can’t operate this lock from the outside of the door — you need to be behind the door to slide the bolt across.
These locks are also inexpensive and easy to install, although less secure than electronic locks. They won’t protect your garage when you’re out of the house, but they allow you to lock the door from the inside so your family is safer. This is also a good supplement to an existing lock system.
Since you can’t see a bolt lock from the other side of the door, intruders might still try to break in. However, with this type of lock installed, they probably won’t be able to.
Which kind of lock should you choose? The answer depends on the right balance of security, affordability, and convenience for your needs.
More expensive locks, like electronic locks, tend to be both more secure and more convenient. They’re hard to break through and don’t require keys that can get lost or bent.
However, if you don’t have lots of crime in your area, these fancier locks might not be worth the cost. An affordable slide bolt or deadbolt lock will protect most garages effectively.
Since the garage typically doesn’t store valuables, most intruders won’t spend much time trying to break in. Simply making the door hard to open by force by installing simple garage door locks usually is enough. You can also add an alarm system as a further deterrent.
Now that you’ve chosen the best garage door locks for the job, what does it take to install them? Here are some basics to get you started.
Your deadbolt lock should come with instructions from the manufacturer to make installation easier. Make sure to check those before getting started.
First, you’ll need to drill the hole to put the lock in. Use a hole saw to create the hole for the lock, and a drill bit to make another one for the bolt to go through. Don’t forget to line up the hole in the side of the door with the one in the doorjamb that the lock will fit into.
Use a measuring tape to figure out exactly where to drill the holes. Then, use a wood chisel to shape the area where you’ll place the lock, so it sits flush with the door.
Once the lock fits in place, use the included screws to secure it.
To install digital garage door locks, you’ll use effectively the same steps that you used to install the deadbolt, since most digital locks use a deadbolt locking system.
If you already have a lock in place, and you want to upgrade to a digital lock, the process is even easier. Just take out the old lock and fit the new one in its place. Most door locks come in standard sizes that make switching them out easy.
Still, you might want to take pictures of your existing lock setup before you remove it. This will make it easier to know where everything goes as you install the new one.
In addition to installing your digital lock’s deadbolt, you’ll also need to screw the digital keypad into place and put the batteries in. Once you've installed the digital lock, just set the keypad to a number that’s hard to guess but easy to remember, and you’re good to go.
Electronic garage door locks (also known as biometric locks) may require professional installation if you get a fancier version. But if you buy a simple, deadbolt-based electronic lock, the installation is the same as with the two lock types above. The only difference is that you’ll need to program your fingerprints in at the end.
As with a digital lock, one of your last steps will involve attaching the electronic fingerprint verification screen. These locks also require batteries before they can work.
Finally, slide bolt locks are the easiest garage door locks to install.
First, you’ll choose the height of the lock. You can install one anywhere it’s easy to reach, or install two for added security: one high and one low.
Next, place the lock over the door and use a pencil to mark the places where the screws will go. Use those marks to make pilot holes for the screws so they’re easier to install. You could screw the bolt onto the door without pilot holes if you have a powerful enough screwdriver, but pilot holes help prevent mistakes.
Add all the screws for the bolt, and add the “bolt keep” to the doorframe at the same level so it can slide into place. You might need to chisel a little bit out of the doorframe so the bolt and bolt keep are flush. If you do, just sand the area and add a coat of paint afterward to protect against splinters.
It doesn’t take much time or money to install new garage door locks, and the value you get in terms of security and peace of mind is well worth it.
Any of the locks on this list are well worth the price you’ll pay. Even an inexpensive slide bolt lock makes your garage much safer from intrusion. Choose what’s within your budget and comfort zone right now, and keep in mind that it’s easy to upgrade later.
Looking for more ways to make your garage safer? Don’t miss our guide to replacing garage door springs!