Home Hardening Includes Strengthening Exterior Doors

In our previous blog, we talked about how the heat from a fire can break window glass, creating an ember-inviting hole in your home. Another place to be careful about not creating holes is anywhere you have a door leading outside.

Doors can have common ground with windows

Some doors are a bit like windows because they have panes of glass in them. Just as with windows, the heat of a fire can break the panes in a door. If you can live without glass in your doors, do it. It’s a reasonable trade-offs for having a home in a beautiful but fire-prone setting. If you absolutely want glass in your exterior doors for aesthetics or to let in some natural light, be sure the glass is tempered glass that resists heat-related breakage. And if you have sliding patio doors, look into tempered glass for those, as well (preferably double-paned).

Get a fire-rated door

A lot of “door hardening” tips tend to be about making a home resistant to break-ins. In the case of home hardening for a fire zone, the safest door isn’t just the one that best frustrates intruders (although you definitely want that quality in a door); you need a door that can resist the weapons a fire might throw at it: smoke, flames, heat, embers, etc.

An excellent way to make sure you get the safest door for your situation, with or without glass, is to shop for “fire-rated doors.” A fire-rated door is one that has been given a “seal of approval” so to speak for its ability to resist fire. Traditionally, such doors have been mostly associated with industrial/commercial buildings, but manufacturers are now doing wonderful residential design work with steel, fiberglass, fire-rated glass, and other materials.

Hardening existing doors

If new doors aren’t in your budget, make sure there are no gaps around your doors that could let embers or smoke into your home.

When the sun has gone down, turn on the lights near any door leading outside and then go stand outside that door. If you see light coming through above, below, or on either side of the door, it is highly recommended that you seal those gaps with fire-rated weather stripping and/or fire-rated door sweeps.

And don’t forget your garage doors, especially if have an attached garage. Discourage fire from catching inside your garage by installing fire-rated weather stripping on garage doors.

One more thing! With an attached garage, be sure to seal any gaps in the door leading into the house.