Security Screen Doors
The Complete Buying Guide
You may be thinking, “Do I a need a security door?” If you want to enjoy letting fresh air into your home while keeping your family and possessions safe and secure, then the answer is definitely “Yes”.
A security screen door is a crucial part of your home security plan. RACV statistics show that a home is burgled every 15 minutes in Victoria, so it’s essential to have security measures in place to protect your home and family and make sure you won’t add to those statistics. The home is where you start your day and where you sit down to relax at the end of it, and a good security door will give you peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones and your property are protected.
While no measure of security is completely perfect, a good security door will go a long way towards protecting your property. The presence of a security door acts as a deterrent to criminals, who generally target homes with low levels of security. It acts as a warning sign to burglars that you take your home security seriously, and they are much more likely to move on to an easier option.
As well as stopping intruders from entering the property, a security door will create a safety barrier for young children and pets to stop them accidentally exiting the home. It also prevents mosquitos, moths and other insects from entering, so will keep you and your family safe from mosquito-borne diseases and the annoyance of flying and crawling insects.
But what sort of door to buy? With a myriad of brands, materials, colours, styles and designs available, it’s important to understand the different aspects that go into making a good security door.
This guide will help you decide what product will best suit you, depending on your individual circumstances and the level of security required.
What kind of security door do I need?
The type of security door that is right for you and your property depends on how much security you need, the look you’re going for and your budget.
If you live in an area with a high rate of break-ins, you might want to consider a high-end security door for maximum protection, with a high-grade steel security mesh and a 3-point locking system.
If your requirements are not quite so stringent but you still want the visual deterrent to potential intruders and a door that provides ample security, then a standard aluminium diamond grille security door will suit your needs.
Steel or Aluminium
The most common frame material used today for home security doors is aluminium. There are some niche steel-framed security door products on the market, but these are becoming rare, mainly because steel has the potential to rust, and also because of the ever-growing advancements in the new generation stainless steel mesh in aluminium frame doors. Many of the top brands in security doors, such as Crimsafe, Screenguard, Amplimesh, Invisigard and Prowler Proof, are aluminium framed.
Steel-framed doors are more likely to be marketed as steel gates or steel security gates/doors, and they are basically in a category of their own. Steel-framed constructed doors tend to be more dated in design, and heavier and bulky. The extra weight means that further care and control needs to be taken when closing the door or there’s a possibly of injury, especially to children.
As most security doors on the market are aluminium-framed security doors, we’ll discuss them more in-depth for the rest of this article.
The category of aluminium-framed security doors is huge in itself. With products providing security levels ranging from medium to ultra-high security, it’s all about the quality of the frame and the type of screen infill.
What to look for
There are many different types of doors out there that are made of different materials and with various design features, and each type provides a different look, style and level of security.
‘Security door’ is a generic term for a general product type, and it does not guarantee any real security protection unless the door is manufactured to a certified Australian Standard such as AS5041-2003 or above.
The Australian Standards for security doors cover tests including:
- Dynamic Impact Test
- Anti-jemmy Test
- Knife Shear Test
- Pull Test
- Probe Test
These days doors are made with a range of materials that are corrosive resistant. Such as aluminium and stainless steel.
Be sure your products are coming from a reputable supplier that source materials that are made to Australian standards.
The frame is probably the most important aspect relating to security. A quality product is defined by the strength of the frame, and also the way the infill is secured to the frame.
Cheaper security doors will have a receiver channel that has a thin and weak link to the main frame body.
As seen in Diagram 1.2, the left frame has a potential weak point where the receiver connects to the main frame body.
The right frame in Diagram 1.2 shows a much stronger structure.
Fixing Systems for Screens & Grilles
Screens are only as safe as the method that has fixed them to the frame. Rivets and pressure retention systems are most commonly used to secure screens to frames.
Many grilles are attached to the frame with rivets. It is important that the rivets are installed and clinched on the back of the frame (facing inside the house) and away from outside access.
Rivets should be spaced evenly apart, with generally a rivet every 25 to 30cms.
Be wary of companies that market pressure-retention systems playing down the effectiveness of rivet-secured screens. Screens and grilles that follow good installation guidelines perform extremely well for general home safety. Most security doors that are currently in usage use rivet-secured screens.
Rivets can be used for all screen types including: stainless steel meshes, aluminium perforated sheets and aluminium grilles.
Pressure Retention System
Pressure retention systems are an alternative to rivets. These secure the screen to the frame with compression wedges or screw clamps, and this method provides the highest standard in security doors today.
Doors that use this pressure retention systems are marketed under brands including Crimsafe, Screenguard, Amplimesh, Invisigard, Secureview and Prowler Proof.
Security infills are generally made up of these main styles:
Stainless Steel Mesh
Stainless steel mesh is by far the most popular screen infill on the market. It offers a contemporary unobtrusive design while providing a high level of security.
Most stainless steel meshes are made from structural marine-grade stainless steel for uncompromised corrosion resistance.
Aluminium Perforated Sheets
This material is known as punched aluminium. These sheets look and perform like stainless steel meshes.
They are chosen as a design preference for a slightly different look and feel compared to the steel mesh, while offering the same amount of security.
Aluminium Grilles (Diamond and Decorative)
Aluminium grilles provide a moderate-to-good standard of security. Security levels of aluminium grills are dependent on the design and thickness of the grille, and how it has been secured to the frame.
Aluminium grilles generally come in the familiar diamond pattern or as decorative motif patterns. Generally, security doors made with grille infills are not as strong as those made with mesh infills, and this will be reflected in the price.
In Australia you are going to find 3 main brands of locks for security doors. These include Austral, Whitco, and Lockwood. These brands of locks are Australian made and designed, meeting Australian security standards.
Standard (straight bolt) Locks
The standard locks made by both Austral and Whitco feature a straight latching bolt. These locks are designed with resistance to forced entry in mind.
Ultimate (hook bolt) locks
High range of looks include a hook latching bolt. The benefit of this is the lock latches on to the striking plate via a hook bolt, this is a ‘anti-jimmying’ feature where it makes it extremely difficult to lever or pry the door away from the frame.
Austral and Lockwood both have locks featuring hook bolts. Though Whitco does not have a hook bolt style lock their anti-jimmying solution is a lock with an extra wide and serrated bolt as seen with their MK3 Model lock
3 Point Lock
What a 3 point locking system does is instead of having a single latching bolt in the middle of the door, it has 3. The extra latches are situated on the top and bottom of the security door frame.
The benefits of this is the security screen cannot be pried back from the top or bottom edges of the door where there is no latch fixing the door to the house frame on a standard locking system.
3 point locks also spread the force of impact evenly across more contact points for superior security.
The 3 point lock system can be added to any security door locks from Austral, Whitco, and Lockwood
A quick note on hinges; a security door should always have three hinges with fixed pins that can’t easily be removed. These should be installed on the top, middle and bottom of the door where it connects to the house frame.
Be very wary if an installer uses only two hinges, as there is no reason to ever use less than three hinges. There are installers around who use two hinges, and this should be an instant red flag that the quality of installation is poor.
Pricing can be a confusing area, as you can pay two very different prices for two different products that look seemingly identical.
The major cost difference is the frame type. As mentioned above, there are standard frames and then there are also heavy duty versions – frames that use a pressure retention system.
Different suppliers also include different standard inclusions, such as bug seal and upgraded mesh, and different brands of lock and door closer. Prices will vary depending on the overall package.
Price will also vary depending on size. Prices quoted are based on standard size doors of 2100mm(h) x 820mm(w).
Standard Security Door Price
- For a standard frame with Aluminium Diamond Grille, you’re looking at a starting price of about $400.
- For an Aluminium Decorative Motif Grille with a standard frame, the starting price is around $500. (The price will vary according to different decorative designs.)
- Prices for Stainless Steel Mesh in a standard frame start at around $600.
Heavy Duty Security Door Price
Heavy duty frames involve doors that are made using a branded pressure-retention system such as Crimsafe, Screenguard, Amplimesh, Invisigard, Secureview and Prowler Proof. Prices start at around $800, but can go well over $1000 for top brands such as Crimsafe.
Whether you choose to pay for the top-of-the-range products will depend on the area you live in and your individual security requirements. A reputable installer will be happy to discuss options and provide advice to help you decide what is right for you.