Security screen doors buying guide

Great for six-legged pests, but not so good against the two-legged variety.
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 
  • Updated:22 Feb 2005
 

03.What to look for

  • Buy a security door that meets the Australian standard. The latest version is AS 5039, although because it’s relatively new, you’re more likely to see reference to the previous standard, AS 2803, which is not as tough as the new standard, but still OK (see The Standard, for what’s covered). If the door doesn’t carry the Standards Australia label, yet the company claims it meets the standard, ask for a written guarantee stating the whole door complies with the standard, not just parts of it.
  • Ask for a written guarantee that the door is being installed according to Australian Standard AS 5040 (or at least the previous AS 2804).
  • In NSW and WA any company selling and/or installing security products must be licensed by the state police and a member of an accredited industry body. Ask to see the licence and also which organisation they’re a member of, in case you have a complaint.
  • Try to find out the reputation of the companies you’re dealing with: how long they’ve been in business and whether there have been any complaints against them. For example, you can call your state’s crime prevention or fair trading departments.
  • Ask whether the company has product liability insurance, so you know you’re covered in case you incur any damage or someone is injured due to a door being too weak or poorly installed.
  • Get several quotes for the type of door you want, and take your time comparing them.

All door types

  • Locks should be five-pin cylinder or equivalent — according to the standard, wafer locks are more vulnerable. A three-point lock may prevent the bottom or top of the door being Receiver channel depth diagramwrenched back by an intruder, and should also spread the force of an attack.
  • The standard recommends not using aluminium rivets in accessible positions — some companies use stainless steel rivets.
  • The door should have at least three hinges with fixed hinge pins that can’t be removed. A fixed steel pin (‘dog bolt’) that’s welded into the hinge leaf, rather than just pressed into it, gives additional protection. The bigger the pin, the better. Ideally the hinges should be recessed or the door should have a hinge filling between the door and the frame that doesn’t allow access for a jemmy, say. A single hinge that runs along the full length of the frame does the same job.
  • The frame should have a deep receiver channel for the grille. Make sure the connection between the main part of the frame and the receiver channel is sturdy.
  • The cords of the grille should be at least 7 mm thick. However, even the strongest grille isn’t worth much if it isn’t fixed to the door frame properly. On many doors the grille is riveted to the frame. Look for rivets that are clinched at the back of the frame, and that aren’t too far apart: at least one every 25 cm — ideally, every second connection point should be riveted. However, rivets may be badly aligned and therefore won’t fully connect with the grille. A grille that’s welded to the frame may be more reliable; again, no more than 25 cm between welding spots and ideally at every connection point.
  • The frame should be reinforced at the corners. Doors may have internal corner stakes, which you won’t be able to see, but fully welded corner joints are likely to be stronger.

Installation

Some requirements of the standard for installation of security screen doors (AS 5040) are:

  • The installer has to assess whether the door frame is strong enough to support the security door — for example, that the jamb is in good condition and firmly fixed to the building. If necessary, the jamb may have to be reinforced, such as with metal jamb covers.
    As door jambs often aren’t square, a metal frame may be needed anyway to even out irregularities. Be aware that all this may reduce the width of the doorway and cause problems when moving furniture or appliances in and out, or for wheelchair access. It could also increase the cost of installation.
  • The gaps between the security door and frame at the locking points mustn’t be more than 4 mm; between the frame and hinge points 4 mm (or 6 mm for steel doors); at all other points, gaps mustn’t be more than 5 mm, although at the bottom it may be more than this to compensate for an uneven floor.
  • Think about the lock and how easy it will be to get out of your home in case of fire or other emergency
 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.