Easy! Secure Your Exterior Doors: Check & Replace Short Hinge Screws

By on October 4, 2017

It’s Saturday morning, I’m coffee’d up and ready for a simple DIY project.  It’s an easy home security upgrade that’s one of the most important things every homeowner/apt. dweller needs to do: check the length of the hinge screws that attach your door to the door frame. Hinge screws must be 3-inches long to be effective. (I put money on most of you having short hinge screws. Note: I did not say, a screw loose!)


The 3 most common forms of illegal entry are:

a bad guy walks in an unlocked door;

a door’s kicked open at the latch area; or,

it’s kicked open at the hinge area.

Know these 2 facts:

Illustration of 2 forces on a door, demonstrates the vulnerability of swinging doors.

  1. Doors are easy to enter, and, difficult to secure. Why? Because doors sit on the outermost edge of a door frame, they have to. For exterior doors to swing open 180-degrees to the inside, hinges sit outside the edge of a door frame. See for yourself. Get up, look at the hinges on your front door. (Door latches and deadbolts also sit on the edge). To sleep well at night, you want to know for sure that your doors are firmly attached to the door frame.
  2. You can’t see the doubled-up 2″ x 2″ posts that make up the structural door frame, they’re behind the wall. Hinge screws (and strike plate screws) need to be deeply embedded into those wooden posts. There’s a simple way to do that:  replace existing short screws with 3-inch long deck screws.

With this fix, a swift kick to the hinge side of a door will have the bad guy limping away.

Here’s the Idea:

My drawing may help you visualize why you want a 3-inch screw in your hinge plates and nothing shorter. The screw to the right was taken out of the hinge plate of our rear door. It’s ridiculously short! To the left, is the 3-inch long deck screw that took its place. You want door hinge screws to be well embedded into the structural frame. Using 3-inch long steel deck screws will ensure a well attached door.

Here’s How to Check Your Hinge Screws:

It’s an old door with old hardware, but the hinges are very solid. And, sigh, the screw heads were painted over. So first, I used a beat up knife to dig paint from the screw slots so the drill bit can make better contact.

3 Tools you’ll need:

An electric drill. (They’re fun to use. Home Depot offers has classes for newbies).

Measuring tape.

Replacement screws: 3-inch long steel deck screws, 1 or 2 per hinge plate. (I used 2).

What to do:

Remove 1 or 2 screws from each hinge plate.

Measure them. If they’re not 3 inches long, replace.

Go buy 3-inch long steel deck screws, 1 or 2 per hinge plate.

Each door hinge comes with 2 plates. One plate attaches to the door, the other attaches to the door frame. I replaced 2 screws going into the door, and 2 going into the structural frame.

So friends, today was Hinge Screw Day. (A half hour tops, really). This old exterior door previously received two former security upgrades; today, it got one more.

The Prevention section in At Home In the Real World: A Manual for a Modern Woman In an Unstable World, covers all the security upgrades (DIY and purchased products) we installed at our house. It even concludes with a 3-year later post-evaluation.


I removed eight screws. Four from each of the 2 hinge plates, (2 from the door, 2 from the frame side). Barely over an inch, they posed security hazards! They were replaced inside of 15 minutes, (all tools & materials were on hand).

NOTE: This upgrade works best on wooden doors.


Suzy Meyer, Author
Pittsburgh, PA

I'm a landscape architect, gardener, and of late, a certified NRA instructor. I enjoy practicing T’ai Chi, playing bocce, and walking through watersheds.. This blog is my journey full of learning curves to calm the chaos.


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