Homeowners usually invest heavily in securing their homes — reinforcing their windows, installing security systems, buying lights with built-in motion sensors. For many, however, their garage takes the backseat when it comes to home security.
This is a big mistake because the house is only as secure as its weakest point of entry. According to the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, nine percent of home break-ins are accessed through the garage.
There are several ways to secure your garage:
- Frost your garage windows to obscure what is inside
- Purchase a smart garage door opener or a garage door monitor that can notify you through your phone if anyone opens the garage door
- Don’t store the garage door remote in your car
- Install motion-detecting flood lights near your garage door
- Lock the access door between your house and your garage
- Install motion-activated security cameras around your garage
But one of the best ways to secure your garage from unwanted entry is to install a garage door lock.
While many garage door opener systems have built-in security measures, it may not be enough for a determined burglar. Locking the garage door before you enter your house adds another layer of security and can prevent thieves from gaining access.
There are several garage door locks available in the market. We will go over the types available so you can identify what is best suited for your garage.
Slide locks, also known as side locks, side bolts, and latches, are more popular and cost-effective garage door locks in the market.
It fits most garage doors and, and with suitable materials and tools, is easily installed. This type of lock is installed from the inside, making it invisible and more challenging for anyone to pick.
Slide locks are mounted on the end stile of your garage door and latch through the vertical track.
To install a slide lock, you will need the following materials:
- Hole punch or flathead screwdriver
- Slide lock latch with a 2″ or 3″ universal bolt
- Wrench or impact drill (7/16″ bit)
- Depending on your type of garage door: 4 self-drilling hex 7/16″ screws for metal doors; lag screws if you have a wooden door
Start with a closed garage door and unplug your garage door opener, so no one accidentally opens the door while you’re installing the lock.
You may install the lock on either side of the door, but it should be on the second panel from the bottom on the inside of your garage. Some garage doors will have a tiny rectangular slug template in the vertical track that you need to take out so the lock latch can go through the track. Other doors already have a vertical groove in the track built-in.
Align the slide lock with the bolt inside the vertical groove, embed the screws above and below the lock’s base. Use the pilot holes in the end stile of your garage door and the slide lock as a guide. Ensure the screws aren’t overtightened because this will strip out the door stile and the fastener thread.
For an additional layer of security, you can insert a padlock into the latch bolt end.
If your garage has an automatic garage door opener, we highly suggest you secure the latch by adding another screw into the base of the lock through the latch. If anyone needs to lock the garage door, they will have to remove the screw to put the bolt in the track.
- Easy to install
- Less costly than other types of locks
- You have the option of adding a keyed padlock for added security
- Can cause damage to your garage door if the automatic opener is used while locked
- The lock needs to be manually locked and unlocked
- You will not have access to the lock from the outside
T-handle locks are the garage door locks commonly used for metal garage doors. It uses a cylinder key to lock and unlock it instead of a regular key, making it harder to replicate.
The handle is usually made out of chrome or anodized metal and is installed outside the garage door. There are two wires attached to the handle, and the lock mechanism is spring-loaded.
When the handle is turned, the cables pull back the rods on the lock mechanisms and raise the door.
To install a T-handle lock, you will need the following materials:
- Open-ended wrench or socket and ratchet
- Wire cutters if your lock doesn’t include cable brackets
Start with a closed garage door and unplug your garage door opener, so no one accidentally opens the door while you’re installing the lock. Test the lock before installing it to see if the lock functions properly.
If there is an old lock on your garage door, remove it first. Thread the new lock through the hole from the old lock and screw it in place. Then fix up the back portion of the lock to help it stay in place.
Make sure the back locking mechanism is oriented in the same direction your lock turns, then put the locking mechanism through the shaft and secure it. Once you’re done, test it to see if it locks and unlocks properly.
- Easy to install
- You don’t need special tools for installation
- The key is harder to replicate, adding an extra layer of security
- Some of the most popular t-handle locks are made of flimsier materials than other lock types
- Not suitable for side-hinged garage doors
- Less convenient since you have to lock and unlock it manually
Automatic Garage Door Lock
An automatic garage door lock automatically locks your garage door once the door is closed. It opens with a remote or keypad.
Having an automatic garage door lock is very convenient for those who use their garage as their primary entry and exit point into their house. However, due to the wiring involved, for your safety, we recommend that you hire a trained, professional installer or service technician to install an automatic garage door lock.
- Convenience – since the lock is integrated with your automatic door opener, you can open and close and lock and unlock the garage door with one click of a button
- Many automatic door locks can send you a notification on your phone if someone opens your garage door
- More expensive than other types of garage door locks
- Not all automatic door locks are compatible with automatic garage door openers
Center Lock System
This type of lock is used for overhead garage doors. It is installed in the middle of your garage door with a center equalizer that pulls the cables from the spring-loaded latches located on both sides of the garage door.
When installing this type of garage door lock:
- Take out all the parts and group the same pieces together, so it’s easier to see where everything is
- Most garage doors already have punch-out holes in them, so you won’t need to drill new holes when installing this lock
- Put the flat head of the screws on the inside of the track to not hit the garage door rollers
- Easy to install
- Less costly than other types of locks
- Instructions that come with the kit are often vague and hard to understand
- Not as convenient as automated garage door locks
Roller Door Locks
The roller door locks fit through the shutter curtain and guide rails to prevent the shutter from being opened. A key is used to lock and unlock this.
While not as difficult to install as an automatic garage door lock, we recommend hiring a welder to install the locks.
- This type of lock allows you to lock the door from the outside
- Relatively inexpensive
- Stops the garage door from being jacked up with a crowbar or car jack
- Installation is challenging
- It may cause damage to your garage door if you have an automatic garage door opener and forget to unlock it before you run the door
Tips on Choosing a Lock for Your Garage
There are a few things that you should consider when you are choosing which lock to purchase.
- Estimate Required Level of Garage Security
Consider how valuable the items you store in your garage are and if there is available access to your house from your garage. For even more protection, you can install multiple locks.
- Consider BOTH Strength and Durability
Buy your garage door locks from reputable manufacturers to ensure their quality. If you live near the ocean, regularly check your locks for damage as the salt in the air can corrode the metals in your locks faster.
- Inspect Your Garage Door
Your garage door lock should counter the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of your garage door. For example, if you have a manual roller garage door, it would be best to secure it with bullet locks as they are harder to break off.
You may add a ground lock for enhanced security.
Keeping Your Home Secure
As we said before, your home is only as safe as its weakest entry point. Don’t let that weakness be your garage door.
Use this guide to help you find the right lock for your garage door so that you can keep your home and your family safe.