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Bill Potter
An entry door problem,need ideas

I have a quandry with a small porch on my house.The house is very small (900 sq.ft) and has the primary entry door leading into the kitchen that is inside a small 4' deep x 6' wide uninsulated porch with a storm door on the outside.
Once you enter the porch the entry door is straight ahead and opens out towards you,so it's not right,but It can't open in,as the kitchen is so small.It's a thiefs dream as the hinges are exposed to the outside where the pins could be driven out.I did however drill them and install set screws(on the inner side) where the hinge folds,so the pins can't be removed.
This little porch was made by the previous owners just closing in a jog in the house,and the shingles are still on the inner walls.The floor is just 1 x 4 tongue and groove fir over three joists that are about a foot off the ground.

I just want to tighten up the whole thing and make it a little more energy efficient and more appealing.
I plan to remove the shingles and do the walls with some v-groove pine,and rip up the floor and insulate it between the joists with some foam board,and put down a nice floor with some pine or fir over it.I'd like to replace the cheapo storm door on the outside with a fiberglass or steel door with a nice multi pane colonial style in it.

There in lies the problem,If i install the outside door properly with it opening in,it will be an issue with the doors opening in to each other.I can get them to clear,but I would have to do some fancy footwork to close the doors.The only other way I could do it,is to have the door open to the outside,but it wouldn't be correct and it would look cheesy,and the hinges would show to the outside.

This porch is a nice little area to take off boots in the winter,and to hang up a damp jacket after shoveling snow or coming in from the rain.It also has a different floor elevation than the kitchen,so I'm not interested in making this a big project.
Sure I guess I could rip everything down,and turn the porch into a well insulated part of the kitchen and having just one good quality entry door for an entry.I don't however have any plans of doing that.

So after this long winded question,does anyone have any good solution to my dilemma?

Re: An entry door problem,need ideas

Personally, I don't see a big problem with the storm door opening to the outside, right or wrong, since your space is limited and the kitchen door installed the wrong way.

If you're worried about burglars taking their time to unscrew the hinges, find a way to lock the door from both sides (maybe a padlock).

Re: An entry door problem,need ideas

Tale some paper towels down to your local police office and ask how many times a year burglaries are committed by the thieves popping out the hinge pins.

When they stop laughing, offer to wipe up the coffee they splurted out all over their paperwork. :p

Seriously, I doubt many criminals will bother to; 1- notice the hinges are on the outside, 2- will know that to do when they see the hinges on the outside, 3- have the proper tools with them, 4- be willing to hammer away and hope no one will notice, 5- figure that this is the best way in, when a window will be much faster.

Don't lose any sleep over this one. Have the door open out if you wish.

Re: An entry door problem,need ideas

Replace hinges; try a) security hinges that stay together even if the pin is removed (they have a tab that mates to a recess when closed) or b) get fixed pin hinges;the pins are peened over and can't ever be pulled. c) tack-weld the existing pins carefully so the function as in "b".

Re: An entry door problem,need ideas

Find a commercial door supplier and get NRP hinges from them (non-removable pin). These are what you see used on stores and public buildings that are required by law to have doors which swing outward. Most use a hardened notched pin with a tiny hardened Allen set-screw which can be accessed only with the door open. Just for fun I tried driving out one of these on and extra I had. A 20oz hammer and a drift punch with the hinge in my vise did nothing so you can be certain they're secure. All that I've used were 4"; most residential doors use 3 1/2" so you may need a little chiselwork to fit them.

Also be sure to maintain code compliance which IIRC will require at least a 36" long landing area outside of the door so that it can be opened without having to stand on steps. Since you're converting the 'porch' to 'interior space', perhaps you can insulate the outer porch walls instead and eliminate the old kitchen door which will allow an inswing-door thus eliminating the extra efforts? Just a thought there.

BTW, while inswing doors are the usual for homes, there's no 'absolutes' there. It is simply the traditional way of doing things because it keeps the top of the door out of the rain, thus extending it's lifespan.


Re: An entry door problem,need ideas

If a thief decides to break into your house through the door, they just kick it in. Most door jambs are so weak, especially around the strike plate that the jamb just splits and the door, still locked in the jamb, and the jamb just fall into the house.

In your case, an outward opening door is probably a lot more resistant to a kick in. If security is a primary concern, then use the type of hinges that have an interlocking tab and attach all hinges and door strikes with 4" long screws that go into the frame.

For even more kick in resistance, remove the interior trim and get a selection of various thickness pieces of wood. Hardwood such as oak or poplar would be good for this. Fit some of these pieces that just fill the gap between the jamb and the frame and glue them in place with a construction adhesive or wood glue at each hinge location and behind the strike plates. Then screw in the 4" long screws (3.5" will do if that is all you can find) through the hinges and the strike plates. On the strike plates, only put two long screws in closest to the center of the jamb. Long screws on the outer holes actually weaken the system.

If you have a dead bolt, consider getting a strike plate that is longer than the stock plate and has 6 screws where 4 of the screws are on the inside, or toward the center of the jamb.

Do this on the outer door. If the thief gets inside the porch where he is out of sight, then he can take his time to break in. Its best to stop him at the outer door where he is exposed.

Re: An entry door problem,need ideas
keith3267 wrote:

If a thief decides to break into your house through the door, they just kick it in.

If security is a primary concern, then use the type of hinges that have an interlocking tab and attach all hinges and door strikes with 4" long screws that go into the frame.

Do this on the outer door. If the thief gets inside the porch where he is out of sight, then he can take his time to break in. Its best to stop him at the outer door where he is exposed.

keith is right about the 'kick-ins'; ask your local Police and they will tell you the same. And they will tell you that if it survives a few kicks the thief will probably try something or somewhere else. After all, it's noisy and it's pretty obvious what they're up to if they're seen. Short of 'hardening' all the fenestration that is about all the security you're going to get. If a door or window isn't visible to someone who would call the cops for you, it does need to be more resistant to break-ins. Too many people rely on alarm systems which mean nothing to the now-common "kick and run" technique. Alarms have delays so that you have time to punch your code in (should never be more than 15 seconds but it's usually twice that) and by then they've gotten to what they wanted and they're on the way out with it, so unless someone is already there to stop them, your stuff is gone even if they catch the crook later.

Don't rely on 'tabbed hinges' to stop someone from separating the hinge leaves. Those tabs hardly engage each other, usually about 1/4", so even a small screwdriver gives enough leverage to pop them out. Only NRP hinges and/or a hinge covering strip offer enough security for that side to be effective. I have 'reinforced' some hinges by removing one screw each, driving in a long #12 screw to the jamb side leaving about 3/4" exposed, then cutting off the head, rounding it with a file, and slightly bending it so that it will enter the opposing (enlarged) screw hole when the door is closed. A hacksaw blade will still get them in if they figure it out, but it's an unexpected slow-down and better than nothing. You can't stop a determined person but if you slow them down enough they almost always look for better opportunities elsewhere.

Again none of that matters unless the door frame is properly shimmed and screwed into the house framing, especially at the strike area. I use 3" (or longer) deck screws for security on my strike plates on rentals and where security is important. If you need a really secure door, look into the recommendations for creating a tornado 'safe room'. That's about all the performance you're going to get from a door before the wall framing itself lets go.


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