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Decreasing Door Danger Zones1

Hal S. Knowles III, Craig Miller, Kathleen C. Ruppert, Karla A. Lenfesty, and Barbara Haldeman 2

This publication is part 5 of 6 in the Education + Action = Wind Mitigation series. For the rest of the series, visit

Doors provide safe access into and out of a home. However, high winds can make doors a pathway for storm damage.

What makes a safe door?

A safe door has three hinges and a dead bolt lock with a bolt throw at least one inch long. The bolt throw should penetrate into the wall framing beyond the door jamb.

Safe doors usually open toward the outside of the house. Any good exterior door should be made of metal or solid wood. Install shutters over doors with windows or hollow cores.

What makes double doors unique?

Double doors, such as French doors, need added protection. This is because the door opening is twice as wide as it is for single doors.

You can improve the wind resistance of your double doors by installing barrel bolts in the inactive door (Figure 1). The bolt throws should penetrate through the door jamb into the header and through the bottom threshold into the subfloor.

Figure 1. Reinforcing double doors with barrel bolts.
Figure 1.  Reinforcing double doors with barrel bolts.
Credit: Barbara Haldeman, UF/IFAS PREC

Why do garage doors fail?

Garage doors are usually made of thin metal panels spanning wide openings into the shell of a home. Under high wind conditions these characteristics can lead to garage door failure (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Garage door failure.
Figure 2.  Garage door failure.
Credit: Florida Coastal Monitoring Program

High winds can cause garage doors to collapse into the house or pop out of their mounting tracks. Once this happens, wind can enter the house. The wind creates a positive pressure inside the house that can blow out windows, doors, walls, and potentially the roof.

Brace or Replace Garage Doors

If you live in an older house, you may need to brace or replace your garage door. Existing doors can be reinforced with horizontal bracing positioned at the center of each door panel row.

You may also need the additional strength provided by removable vertical bracing spaced across the span of the door and anchored into the floor and roof trusses. See Figure 3.

Figure 3. Reinforced garage door.
Figure 3.  Reinforced garage door.
Credit: UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County

The garage door track is another common area in need of reinforcement. As shown in Figure 4, an unreinforced track can bend, allowing the garage door to break free from the wall.

Figure 4. Reinforcing the garage door track.
Figure 4.  Reinforcing the garage door track.
Credit: Bryant Fukutomi, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Additional Issues to Consider

Sometimes retrofitting existing garage doors to improve high wind resistance can be a difficult task. It may be worthwhile to hire a qualified contractor to install the necessary bracing or even to install a new hurricane-resistant garage door.

Should you choose to make these garage door improvements on your own, remember that the new bracing may increase the weight of your door. This may require the replacement of the garage door motor.

When bracing existing garage doors, remember to cover any windows on the door panels with shutters to protect the glass. Avoid purchasing new garage doors with windows.

If maximum protection is your goal, be sure to select products approved by the very thorough Miami-Dade County standards (see the product search link below).

Other Resources

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes:

Federal Emergency Management Agency National Preparedness Library:

Institute for Business and Home Safety:

Miami-Dade County: Permitting, Environment and Regulatory Affairs—Product Control Search:


1. This document is ABE378 (it is Part 5 of 6 in the Education + Action = Wind Damage Mitigation series), one of a series of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 2005. Revised October 2013, November 2016, and May 2020. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication. The original publication was partially funded from a Florida Department of Community Affairs Residential Construction Mitigation Program Grant.
2. Hal S. Knowles III, lecturer and charge agent, Sustainability and the Building Environment and Department of Urban and Regional Planning, College of Design, Construction and Planning; Craig Miller, associate professor, Program for Resource Efficient Communities; Kathleen C. Ruppert, professor emeritus, Program for Resource Efficient Communities; Karla A. Lenfesty, family and consumer sciences agent, retired, UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County; and Barbara Haldeman, editorial assistant, Program for Resource Efficient Communities.

Also Available in: Español, Haitian Creole

Publication #ABE378

Release Date:January 29, 2021

Related Experts

Haldeman, Barbara M.

University of Florida

Miller, Craig R


University of Florida

Knowles, Harold S III


University of Florida

Ruppert, Kathleen C


University of Florida

Fact Sheet


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