There are many different options on the market for securing your doors and adding an extra layer of security to your home — but not all are created equal. If a standard front door lock won’t do and you’re deciding between installing a swing bar guard or a door chain, we ALWAYS recommend a swing bar.
A door chain consists of a small chain attached to the door frame, which can also be attached to a track on the door— to lock, you simply slide the chain into the track. On a swing bar guard, a metal bar interlocks with a peg mounted on the door itself, limiting any opening to a few inches. Hotels typically use this type of lock because it’s more secure than a door chain, and is more effective in preventing unwanted guests from entering your room.
Swing bars have a number of benefits for homes and apartments, from privacy to protection. Landlords and maintenance personnel often enter apartments unannounced, even while tenants are showering! A swing bar gives you privacy and peace of mind, as well as enough time to answer the door.
A swing bar is also much safer than a chain. One strong push can break a chain and give an intruder access, while the swing bar can hold up under significantly more force. Although we never recommend unlocking your primary deadbolt to open the door for someone you don’t know, if you don’t have a peephole, a swing bar allows you to open your door just a crack to see who’s knocking. Swing bars are also far less likely to scratch your door than a chain!
If installed properly, swing bar guards can definitely add an extra layer of protection. The bar should always be mounted on the stationary surface (i.e. the door frame rather than the door). To ensure that a strong push won’t break the lock, use longer screws (up to 3 inches) to firmly attach the peg to the door frame.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that there are tools that can open the swing bar guard from the outside. Hotel personnel use them in emergency situations to gain access to a locked room without ruining the door. However, if an intruder attempts to break the guard with one of these tools, it will likely hold for the few extra minutes it takes to call 911. Again, we recommend that you have other locks in place to secure your home. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you need help outfitting your door!