02.What's out there?
Your best bet is to buy a door that meets the Australian standard for hinged and sliding security screen doors — AS 5039. This standard came into force in 2003, superseding the previous one, AS 2803 (which many companies still refer to, and which still provides acceptable protection). The standard includes design and performance requirements for the various parts of the door, such as hinges, grille, corner joints, locks, screws and rivets. A company can’t claim that some parts of a door (hinges, grille, etc) meet the standard — it’s all or nothing.
It’s possible that a security screen door does meet the standard but doesn’t carry the Standards Australia label or make any claims. Companies have to pay to use the logo, and smaller companies in particular may choose not to. Then there are companies that claim their door meets or passes the standard, though again with no label.
A company claiming compliance with the standard should be prepared to provide proof if it doesn’t carry the label — so ask to see the test report, or get a written guarantee when a company makes such a claim.
There’s also a standard for installation (AS 5040, which replaced AS 2804), and you should ask the installation company for a written guarantee that its work complies with this standard. The standard for testing (AS 5041) includes the door’s ability to: withstand kicking in, pulling out and cutting the infill; prevent insects, arms and bodies passing through (depending on the door’s purpose); and withstand jemmying the door from the jamb.
The buying essentials
- Do some homework to work out what your needs and wants are, taking into account the level of security you need, the style of door that suits your home best, features you want (the type of lock, the type of grille or mesh, whether you need to keep insects out, etc). Use the internet, look at home and garden-type magazines, or the ads in the Yellow Pages are a good place to start.
- Check out credentials of the company and the individuals you’re dealing with. Do they belong to an industry organisation and are they licensed to carry out the work?
- Shop around for products, prices and service, and get at least three quotes.
- Ask lots of questions — the responses (or lack of) may tell you something about the company.
- Don’t let yourself be pressured into signing on the spot if you haven’t had time to do your homework.
- And once more, for emphasis, buy one that meets the Australian standard.
The frame can be steel or aluminium, and the infill can be made from steel (bars or a decorative motif), an aluminium grille or stainless steel mesh. Fixing the grille to the frame can involve rivets, screws, a wedge (PVC or similar), welding or crimping. As long as the door meets the standard, choice comes down to looks and your budget. While price is one indicator of quality — and $400 is a recommended minimum — a high price doesn’t guarantee quality. Security doors will almost always be custom-made, because tolerances for installing them so they meet the standard come down to mere millimetres. We’ve listed some ballpark figures provided by NSSA (see below) as a guide, but it’s definitely worth shopping around: if you can get a Standards-approved door for less, you could be getting a good deal. The prices apply to a standard-size hinged door and include typical installation costs.
Aluminium: You can buy an aluminium screen door for around $200, but it’s likely to be little more than a flyscreen. For a little more, you can get a heavy-duty (but not security) screen door which may at least look secure so thieves choose an easier target. For a custom-made door that meets the standard you’re looking at $400–$500.
Steel: According to ASIAL, a steel door (if properly constructed and installed) is regarded as the most effective security screen door. A custom-made one will cost $500–$700 or more, depending on styling.
Stainless steel mesh (with aluminium or steel frame): Made from woven stainless steel mesh (which is coloured black), these doors promise security without spoiling your view with bars and grilles: it’s much like looking through a flyscreen. Some products have been tested to and meet the Australian standard, even though they may not look as formidable as steel bars or aluminium grilles — and that’s the attraction for many people. They cost from around $600–$700 .
If the company selling and/or installing the door is a member of one of the following security industry associations, you know it has to meet certain quality requirements and you can lodge a complaint with the association if you’re not happy.
Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL)
ASIAL represents approximately 85% of the security industry in Australia (not only security screen door companies). Its web address is www.asial.com.au.
National Security Screen Association (NSSA)
This is an industry body that aims to “promote the maintenance of quality fabrication and installation standards, as well as ethical trading practices, so as to establish and maintain ongoing consumer confidence in our industry”. It’s made up of state organisations based in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and SA. There’s a searchable database of members on its website: www.nssa.org.au.