How to install a steel security door with one way, irreversible screws

Gatehouse Steel Security Door.jpg

Need to make your home an impenetrable fortress and make the bad guys think twice about getting in? Then a steel security door is what you need.

Made of solid steel, these doors make entering your home much, much more difficult. Unless the burglar has 20 minutes and a welding torch, they’re not getting in. And if they do manage to somehow get in, you’ll probably find them sleeping on your couch because they’re too tired to take anything.

These doors have a 1″x1″ tube steel frame, welded hinges, and steel mesh in place of the flimsy nylon screens. They also use a standard entry door handle and deadbolt, not the flimsier versions you see on storm doors. Most any handle set you choose will work (Kwikset, Schlage, etc.) but stay away from the pricier and more expensive ones like Baldwin. Those handle sets won’t work because of the way the door is designed. And stay with something simple, with a rounded cover plate because again this is how the door is made.

These doors also have a door installers nemesis: one-way irreversible screws. Whoever thought up this idea was just plain cruel. These screws are solid steel, 4 inches long, industrial sized, and they have a head that is specially designed to allow you to install them, but you can’t pull them out with a screw driver. In fact, if you try to take them out with a screwdriver you can actually hear the screw head laughing at you as it pushes the screwdriver out. Who thinks of that?! A twisted mind that’s who!

Well, enough of that let's get on to installing these beasts. I’ve designed this guide to take you through step-by-step how to install these things. I will use a real world, first-person viewpoint, and show you some incredibly helpful tips along the way. I’ll share things to do, and things to avoid. Trust me, if you can think of a way to screw it up I’ve done it. From putting on doors upside down, inside out, you can’t make a mistake I haven’t already made at least a few times.


Here’s what you need:

  • A 24″ level (or 32″, you just don’t want it wider than your door)

  • A one-way screw install tool (trust me, this will make your life a LOT easier. Found here: one way screw driver)

  • Power Drill

  • Phillips head bit

  • 1/4″ drill bit

  • Masking tape

  • 1/8″x 1″ x 24″ish shims (lengths can vary, cut to size as needed. You can use cheap drywall shims that are cardboard. I cut mine out of wood)

  • Entry door handle and deadbolt

  • Metal File

  • Lockjaws


And of course a door (like a Gatehouse brand, Magnum, Columbia, etc. It just has to have a roughly 1×1 tube steel frame with one-way screws).

Step 1

The opening I am working on already has an existing security door. And of course they used the infamous one-way, irreversible screws. I hate that. Not to worry, though. The first security door I ever removed took me about 8 hours to remove 8 screws, and I made as many trips to the hardware store to buy as many tools as I could find to remove these bad boys. The best tool was actually in the flooring department – it was a set of tile nippers. Why you ask? Simple: Physics.

One way Irreversible Screws.jpg

The way they are designed, the tile nippers clamp behind the one-way screw heads and allow you to get enough friction and torque that you can unscrew them. The nippers will actually apply pressure outward, pulling the screw towards you as you unscrew it just enough to to get a set of lock jaws on it to unscrew it all the way.


Let me show you:

These are ceramic tile nippers. You can find them in the flooring department at a hardware store:

One way screw removal tool 2.jpg
One way screw removal tool.jpg

Use the tile nippers to grab behind the one-way screw head like this. Be careful not to pinch yourself.

how to remove irreversible screws.jpg

Squeeze the nippers as hard as you can, and turn them counter-clockwise to begin removing the screw.

how to remove irreversible screws 2.jpg

Clamp the lock jaws onto the one-way screw head, turn counter-clockwise, and remove the screw. Remove all one-way screws like this.

removing irreversible screws with lock j

Congrats, you finished the first step – removing the existing security door. Pull out all one-way screws this way, then remove all of the old frame parts, the door, etc.

Step 2- Prepping the new door

Alright, so you have the existing door removed. The existing opening is prepped (i.e., cleaned or painted if you need or want to, old holes are caulked or filled with wood putty, etc.) and you are ready to install the new door. The next step is to prep the door for installation. While the manufacturer instructions that I have seen are pretty much useless, if you follow them they will lead to heartache and woe. They’ll like want you to install the door itself, level it, then install the top frame, square it, then the latch frame, and square it. The problem is you are using one-way, IRREVERSIBLE screws. Did I mention the screws are irreversible? Meaning once they are in, they are in? You have no room for error, and in this case errors build on errors. So I am going to show you how to do it in one shot and get it perfect EVERY time. And this begins with prepping the door.

First, select your door handle and deadbolt set. I like the Kwikset Brand.

kwikset smart key.jpg

Then, temporarily hold the latch frame of the security door up to the entry door to see if you will have interference between the handles. If so, you may have to swap the door knob and deadbolt around.

security door latch side.jpg

The next step is to put the deadbolt and door latch into their proper holes.

install door latch and deadbolt.jpg

In the box you’ll find bags with lots of screws. Take out 4 of the shorter screws, about 1/2″ long. These you will use to mount the deadbolt and door latch into the frame. Don’t worry, you will have left over parts.

door latch and deadbolt screws.jpg

Put the deadbolt and door latch in their appropriate openings like this. Make sure you have them in right. As in the angle on the door latch should point to wards the inside of the house so it closes correctly.

door latch and deadbolt openings.jpg

Put the deadbolt and door latch in their appropriate openings like this. Make sure you have them in right. As in the angle on the door latch should point to wards the inside of the house so it closes correctly.

deadboly opening.jpg

And on the dead bolt it actually tells you which way is up. Trust me, get this right. If you install it upside down, the locks will NEVER line up correctly.


Good job. You’ve got the first part of the handles and deadbolt installed. Now we are going to complete the handle and deadbolt installation.

Find the biggest screws that look like this. These are the deadbolt screws. You’ll need these next.

deadbolt screws.jpg

Install the outside part of the dead bolt lock set. Make sure the keyhole is perfectly vertical, otherwise the holes for the screws on the inside part won’t line up.

outside deadbolt.jpg

Install the inside part of the deadbolt lock and use those 2 screws I showed you earlier. Test that it operates properly.

inside deadbolt.jpg