Home Security: Screens for doors and windows

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According to the Commonwealth Attorney General's department, the most common way for burglars to enter your home is by forcing a window (39%) or door (31%) (1). But you don't have to turn your home into a fortress to increase its protection.

In addition to having home insurance to protect your home, a range of window and door security screens are currently available that add a physical barrier without compromising aesthetics. Stainless steel mesh on security doors or window screens, for example, allow you to enjoy a view and air flow without the need for bars or grilles.

Diamond grilles for screen doors are popular but not the only option.

A good quality security screen will feature three hinges and three locks and reinforced corners to prevent burglars from forcing back the door from the top or bottom. The 7mm diamond grille is popular and cost-effective but other styles are possible to match the look of your home. Manufacturers can also offer hot-dip galvanised steel doors to resist rusting and then powder coat in the right colour, including heritage colours.

Most security screens will need to be custom made to fit your door or window to ensure an accurate fit: this reduces any gaps that can allow burglars to jemmy the door. Frames can be aluminium or steel and your installer may need to reinforce the door jamb if it is not strong enough to support the weight of the door.

Ask any potential suppliers if their screen doors comply with Australian Standards. The Australian Standard standard for security screen doors is AS 5039 and specifies a range of features that make a screen a security door rather than a glorified flyscreen. The installer will also need to understand and abide by those standards to protect your investment (the installation Australian Standard is AS 5040). Some manufacturers will offer to show you a test report that shows the performance of their products against the standard. Some of the features that make a quality security door, like reinforced corners, are not visable so, for peace of mind, you need to find a supplier you trust.

Security screens for windows can be fixed, hinged or sliding, depending on your window style and can feature a grille like security doors and stainless steel mesh. Whatever type you choose, check the method for opening the screens in emergencies. Many manufacturers build internal unlocking systems into their screens so you can quickly escape your home in case of fire or other emergency. Similiarly, some window bars can be quickly removed so you can exit through windows.

Roller shutters can help deal with extreme weather as well as security issues.

Another alternative is roller shutters. If you have other issues like a noisy road, west-facing windows, or live in a bushfire- or cyclone-prone area, shutters can help deal with these problems as well as security. Like bars and grilles, shutters score high on the visual deterrent factor. Some roller shutters let you partially open the slats to let in light and air and come fitted with electric or manual controls operated from inside the house. They can also help if your neighbourhood is prone to vandalism.

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1 Lock Burglars Out, Attorney General's Department, Commonwealth Government