Latch guards, or latch protectors, are devices that provide your doors with an extra level of
defense against tampering or forced entry. But, as with any mechanism that promises better
security, you might be asking yourself: is it really worth it? How do these metal plates work?
What do they cost? And are they appropriate for all door types and settings?
Here at Red Key LLC in Buffalo NY, these are questions we’ve been answering for our
customers for many years. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better sense of whether this
safety feature is right for your home or office.
What is a latch guard or latch protector?
A latch guard, also called a latch protector, is a plate of metal that covers the gap between your
existing lock and the door jam. This gap can be a vulnerable point in even the strongest locks,
allowing a burglar to use force or leverage to tamper with the lock or break the door. By covering this space, you can remove one potential point of entry.
Latch guards come in a variety of styles and sizes and can be installed in double doors as well
as single doors that swing either inward or outward. One thing to keep in mind is that door latch guards are often mistaken for swing bars or slide latches.
These are, in fact, different devices. Swing bars and slide latches are devices that are installed for additional security on a door and can only be engaged when the occupant is inside. They are essentially extra locks in the case that your main lock is compromised. A door latch guard, in contrast, will add extra security to your main lock.
What kind of break-ins do latch guards protect against?
Nowadays, there are all kinds of durable locks on the market. But no matter which kind of lock
you install, be it a bump-proof deadbolt or a smart technology lock, a burglar may still be able to get around it using one of the following methods:
– Credit card method. You’ve probably seen this method used in movies and on low-
security locks like bedrooms or bathrooms. But, if you have a fairly low-quality or old lock
on your exterior doors, someone could gain entry using nothing more than a credit card.
This is done by sliding the card or similar object into the gap between the door and the
door jamb and manually pushing the latch open.
– Brute force. A strong hit from a kick or battering ram directly to the lock can sometimes
be enough to break it. A latch guard may not protect against this kind of sustained
attack—after all, enough force will simply break the door—but it can add an extra level of
strength that will deter potential burglars.
– Leverage. One final method of breaking into a lock is with leverage. This is
accomplished with a tool like a crowbar that can be inserted in the gap between the door
and the door jamb where the lock is. Then, force is applied to wrench the door open,
either breaking the locking mechanism or releasing the latch from the housing in the
door jamb. This is one of the most common ways that a burglar will use to gain entry into
a commercial space or home because it is relatively fast, simple, and reliable.
The effectiveness of all three of these types of break-ins can be reduced or eliminated with the
use of a latch protector, which covers and reinforces the most vulnerable portion of the lock.
Can latch guards be disassembled during a break-in?
Latch guards are installed with specialized bolts that are tightened from the inside of the door.
This means that the exterior portion of the bolt is smooth and cannot be tampered with during a break-in. Not only does this add an extra level of security, but it also ensures that the latch
guard is sleek and unobtrusive.
What kinds of break-ins are not protected by latch guards?
Although latch protectors do a great job of strengthening your security, it’s important to know
that they can’t prevent all types of break-ins.
Lock bumping and picking, for instance, are done by tampering with the lock cylinder instead of
the gap between the lock and the door. Furthermore, smart technology can come with its own vulnerabilities related to hacking.
For this reason, it’s good to think of a latch protector as one layer in your security system. Here
at Red Key LLC, we work with families and business owners to create a cohesive security plan
that doesn’t only rely on one safety measure.
What settings are ideal for latch guards?
Now that we’ve covered what latch guards can and cannot protect against, you may be
wondering whether installing one is a good idea for your setting.
In general, we common recommend installing latch protectors in:
– Commercial settings. Businesses and storefronts are typically the most common places
where we’ll install latch guards.
– Residential entryways. Homes and apartment building entryways are also good places
to install latch protectors.
– In areas with low traffic or frequent break-ins. In general, if you live or have an office in
an area that is appealing to burglars because it’s sparsely populated, a latch guard is a
good idea. Even when no one is around, a burglar is likely to avoid doors with latch
guards because they greatly increase the risk of failure to break in without being noticed.
Latch protectors are likely not necessary in the following cases:
– For use on internal doors. As you probably already guessed, latch guards are not
commonly installed within homes or offices.
– In very busy areas where break-ins are uncommon. As we covered previously, the most
common types of break-ins that latch guards protect against are quite intrusive. It’s not
likely that a burglar will take a crowbar into a densely populated area or use brute force
to open a door within a building with 24-hour security.
In sum, latch guards can be extremely effective in the right setting, but they’re not required in
Latch guard installation
The good thing about latch guards is the hardware is very simple to install. All your locksmith
has to do is measure the area, drill holes for the bolts, and install the device.
That being said, you’ll need to work with your professional locksmith to decide on the right kind
of latch guard for your door. Here are a few of the differences between latch protectors:
– Length. Latch guards come in different lengths depending on your security needs. Some
are just large enough to cover the latch, others will cover the latch and deadbolt. Others
still are as long as the entire height of the door.
– Whether the door swings inward or outward. Doors that swing outward require a simple
design that overlays the door and door jamb. A door that swings inward, on the other
hand, will require a latch protector that interlocks as the door closes.
– Brand. There are many trusted brands of latch protectors on the market. Entry Armor is
one of the most well-known makers of latch guards, but you can also rely on names like
Don Jo, Cal-Royal, and Prime-Line
– Aesthetic. Finally, there’s the look of the door latch. These metal plates come in a variety
of styles so that you can find one that matches your budget and aesthetic.
Latch protector costs
The price of latch guards can vary depending on the length and finish of the metal plate.
That being said, they’re a relatively low-cost security investment that shouldn’t cost more than about $20 to $40 for a standard latch guard.
With professional installation, it’s common for the entire cost of adding a latch guard to your security system to come out to about $75 to $125. Full-length latch guards will typically cost more overall, with the hardware costing up to $150.
Can you install a latch guard yourself?
If you are comfortable with most home improvement projects, installing a basic latch guard
shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
That being said, when it comes to home security, it is always a good idea to rely on the pros. We’ve installed many such devices in a range of different settings, and we know exactly how to take the right measurements for a well-fitting latch protector.
We’ll also make sure that the device is installed and tested so that you can have the peace of mind that your locks are well-protected.
Whether you’re looking to reinforce the security of your home or office, give us a call at Red Key LLC. We’ve been one of Buffalo NY’s favorite locksmiths for many years, and are happy to talk to you about latch guards or any other locksmith questions you may have!