How do I keep the French out (or is that in)?
January 7, 2008 10:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I secure french doors open enough to let air in, but not the boogey man?

My baby's room has french doors. Like this but without the windows either side.... note the step down to the outside.

It's a stinking hot and humid Australian summer in sunny downtown Sydney by the sea... and babytaff's room has no windows. She needs air. We've tried opening up as much of the rest of the house as possible, and it's still spifflicating in there in the mornings after a long nights sleep. She has a fan but it's still not working.

My only other idea is to open the french doors leading in to her room. They open outwards. But obviously that's not safe overnight. Unless there is someway to lock them open a few centimetres/inches.

Can someone suggest a mechanism, or a name to google or a service/tradie solution?

Thanks possums.
posted by taff to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Wedge a wooden block between the doors to keep them open at desired distance. Then wrap a sturdy cord tightly around the handles several times and tie with a simple knot.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:23 PM on January 7, 2008

taff, I cannot help you but I wanted to say that I have noticed you refer to people as possums quite often, and I find that completely charming. That's all, back to helpful responses...
posted by MadamM at 10:30 PM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I would get those really sturdy bolts that are about 18" long and 3/4" thick, that go at the bottom of the door, and the bolt slides down into a hole that is essentially a steel pipe set in concrete. You'd have the type of handle on the bolt that when it's down in place, there's a hole that slips over an eye and a padlock goes through it. Does that make sense? It's the sort of hardware that's often used on gates.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:42 PM on January 7, 2008

Best answer: How about a door chain guard? Attach one half to the centre frame of each door (where the door meet each other). I think the solid style is more esthetically pleasing. Then just prop something against the doors to keep them open. Safe in a fire, secure (at least as secure as any door with a window), simple install, and doesn't look out of place.
posted by Mitheral at 10:44 PM on January 7, 2008

Well, my thought is -- move where she sleeps. Because if someone wants to break in, it's not like a French door is hard to compromise at the best of times.
posted by loiseau at 10:50 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

2ed the security issue of the doors. Is her room on a ground floor? Wouldn't insects or small furry animals get in her room with the door ajar?

In the USA building codes require a window in every bedroom. How would you get her out in the event of a fire?
posted by JujuB at 11:14 PM on January 7, 2008

Response by poster: You people are fabbo. Truly, in case you didn't know it, I must assure you that you are.

She has very thick curtains so that should keep out the creepy crawlies.

Yes, it's ground floor. I think the doorway was originally a window and previous owners turned it into a french door. I don't think they intended it to be a bedroom as it's tiled in lino squares. Pretty daggy really.

We don't have an alternate room for her really. Bugger.

We have a monitor in her room and now one dog that barks. (Vale Dogmatix, yesterday he went to the big doghouse in the sky.) We could hear someone forcing her door if they tried.

In the event of a fire, we'd damn well break the door in to a million pieces. It's not a sturdy old one, much newer than that. And Mummy hormones make me like the Incredible Hulk when necessary. (In strength, I mean. I've got his body and green skin every day.)

So far I'm thinking the gate type lock thing and the security chain are sounding feasible.
Even I have the power tools to do this!

I'm open to more suggestions.

(MadamM- why thank you, possum!)
posted by taff at 11:43 PM on January 7, 2008

What about replacing some of the glass with a window screen?
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:28 AM on January 8, 2008

Is there any way you can swap them to open inwards? Because the only thing I can image that's going to be really safe is a proper mesh security door designed for such a job. Anything else propping them open somehow will be easily broken, as soon as you open even one french door a bit you're leaving a gap for someone to reach in and unlock the other one somehow, or a place to push something into the hinges and work from there (french doors are surprisingly easy to break into). You need to screen off the whole door physically blocking a hand or tool from getting a purchase.

Maybe you could get the mesh door fitted to the inside? Kind of like a big insect screen over the window (but a lot more solid and lockable). Then you could open the doors wide and let in all the air you can get. The benefit is that it will keep our insects also, and is as safe in a fire as any other locked door.

Note: I'm not talking about some insect screening but a proper security door, more like a gate that covers the existing door with it's own bolts and stuff. Would be a bit of an investment but sounds like it could work really well.
posted by shelleycat at 1:51 AM on January 8, 2008

Oh, and those thin security chains? Can be broken silently and quickly with any $20 set of bolt cutters, widely available at your local hardware store. I wouldn't be relying on one to keep something as precious as a baby safe.
posted by shelleycat at 1:53 AM on January 8, 2008

Best answer: Sure, and the glass in a window can be broken with any handy massy object be it tire iron or rock from the driveway. If you want to get fancy you could use a spring loaded centre punch worth about $5.

The security in the vast majority of homes (at least anywhere you'd actually want to live) is strictly about keeping out the elements, the wildlife and the honest. Have no delusions, even a good deadbolt mounted in a solid wood or insulated steel clad door is easily defeated with a standard crowbar.
posted by Mitheral at 2:08 AM on January 8, 2008

In the USA building codes require a window in every bedroom. How would you get her out in the event of a fire?

Possibly through the gigantic double doors?
posted by electroboy at 6:57 AM on January 8, 2008

What sort of flooring do you have? For a concret floor, can you drill into it? If so drill about a 4 inch deep hole about 1/2 inch in diameter, at about a 6 inches back from and within the swing of each door. Get an 8 inch piece of 1/2 diameter rebar or metal rod and place in each of the holes, voila, secured, open doors.

Note: won't keep out possums, just people.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:58 AM on January 8, 2008

Have no delusions, even a good deadbolt mounted in a solid wood or insulated steel clad door is easily defeated with a standard crowbar.

Yes but that's loud and fairly intrusive. My point was that the chains can be cut silently and quickly, taking literally seconds to be done, it would be over and the baby exposed before anyone knew it was happening. As a primary form of defense it fails, mainly because that's not what door chains are designed to do in the first place.

Taff is talking about leaving her most precious possession in this room, I really think it needs a properly designed security system not some jury rigged make do. It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, but it does need to be actually made to deal with this situation rather than hacked together.
posted by shelleycat at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2008

Get a hole cutter (round saw thingy for your drill) or cut by hand some holes in the door. Cover with screen. If it gets cold, tape some cardboard over the holes.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:35 AM on January 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you lovely people, for all your time and thoughtful responses.

We went with the chain idea in the end.

Two in fact.

We have a dog, the room has a monitor, we live in a very boring middle class area and babytaff's bedroom doors are just outside our room. Our house is sort of L shaped. She's in the horizontal part and we're in the corner of the vertical... if that makes sense.

Shelleycat I'm very grateful for your concern, but we really do live in a great area. I'm not really worried about someone bringing boltcutters or stealthily trying to break in. There would be no stealth with dogtaff in our yard.

Again, thank you all, I'm eternally grateful.
posted by taff at 1:15 AM on January 11, 2008

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