Brace Your Garage & Entry Doors

The Danger: If your home has an attached garage, think of that wide, roll-up door as a hurricane welcome mat. When 100-plus-mph winds hit the relatively thin aluminum panels of a standard door, typically, that door buckles and fails, allowing pressure to build up inside the house until it blows apart. "More than 90 percent of the time, the garage door is the first thing to go," says Chapman-Henderson. Fortunately, it's also one of the easiest parts of the house to strengthen against blow-in. The same is true of double entry doors: Without adequate reinforcing, they can potentially blow in or be pulled off.

Permanent Solution: Replace garage and entry doors with storm-rated models. For garage doors, that means braced steel construction with beefier rollers, hinges, and tracks, and additional track-attachment points. Reinforced entry doors typically are made of fiberglass, steel, or solid wood with impact glazing. Prices range from a few hundred dollars for steel to several thousand for top-of-the-line fiberglass, like the Craftsman-style model from Jeld-Wen's Aurora collection. "It's made to emulate a hardwood door," says Kevin Pine, associate marketing manager for Jeld-Wen Doors. "But it's a much stronger product than a conventional stile-and-rail door."

What You Can Do Now

Removable Bracing System: Temporary reinforcing posts will improve your chances against a blow-in or pull-off. A retrofit kit, like the aluminum Collier Fortress Brace or the Secure Door system, sells for about $150 for a standard single door. Vertical posts slot into holes drilled in the floor and fasten at the top via a preinstalled bracket. When a storm warning goes out, you simply insert the posts to bolster the door.

Beefed-Up Door Hardware: Some simple hardware changes are all it takes to dramatically improve the strength of a double entry door. For starters, replace hinge screws with longer versions that extend all the way through the surrounding framing. Change out the standard deadbolt for a longer-throw version, and add deadbolts top and bottom. Multiple-point locking systems, like the Trilennium from W&F Manufacturing (starting around $300), have two or more internal deadbolts, giving you added protection without compromising looks. Finally, add vertical locking pins to the top and bottom of the moveable door; in a traditional setup, only the stationary door has them. Make sure the lower pin extends down into concrete or solid wood.
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