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What can I use to fill a gap between a door frame and the wall, at the location where the strike plate screws will be anchored?

I recently installed a new external door frame where the wall ended up being pretty out of whack (the house is over 100 years old). The top of the door frame sits right on the wall, but the bottom required some shimming, as did points in-between. During this installation I failed to think about securing the locking hardware and, indeed, there is a decent gap (maybe 1/2") between the frame and the wall where the security screws are going in.

I'm not keen on this. I don't like that the screws are floating out in space for such a gap. I'd like to fill the gap with something that will (1) give the screws something more to bite and (2) stick to the frame and wall so it does actually provide additional security.

I thought about taking the trim off (of course, I installed the trim already - sigh) and wedging a new shim in, with construction adhesive on it to secure. But is there something I could just squirt in there that will set up and adhere to the adjoining pieces, and will take a screw when set up?

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    If this is an exterior door, then the security feature you want that will prevent someone from kicking in the door is a door is a deadbolt, which will have a special two-part strike plate (google "deadbolt strike plate") with extra-long heavy screws that go through the jamb into the house framing. – Paul Jun 1 '15 at 14:35
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    If you live in a cold climate and this is an exterior door, then you do want to fill those gaps with expanding "gap filler" to prevent drafts. – Paul Jun 1 '15 at 14:36
  • Hi @Paul, yes this is an exterior door and I do have a two-part strike plate for it. It is just that the screws securing the inner-plate (the one for security) have a void they go through. This just rubs me the wrong way - it might not be an issue, but if it is I'm seeking advice on how to provide additional grip for the screws. Expanding foam was put in to stop drafts. – Evil Closet Monkey Jun 1 '15 at 14:39
  • Usually, there are some shims near or under jamb near the strike plate to prevent the deadbolt strike plate screws from pulling the jamb away from the door, but they do nothing to help secure the door. The deadbolt strike plate screws are sufficient. ..but see my answer – Paul Jun 1 '15 at 14:49
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You could put some shims/wood filler/bondo in there, but it's 90% cosmetic. (The remaining 10% is that it would resist an attack with a prybar, but realistically, if someone is coming at your door with a prybar, you're doomed.)

The screws (assuming they're long enough to bite solidly into the framing), will do what they're supposed to do with or without filler.

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If you like (I do this sometimes for big gaps), try to find a piece of plywood exactly the right thickness for the gap behind the deadbolt. Drill thru the jamb and plywood and you may want a pilot hole in the framing. You may need to hollow out a bit of the plywood to fit the bolt of the deadbolt. This will be more secure, but the 3-inch screws and heavy strike-plate that come with the deadbolt that screw into the house framing are supposed to be strong enough prevent anyone from kicking down the door regardless if there is or is not a gap between the jamb and framing. However, neither will do anything to prevent a SWAT battering ram.

  • Shims are preferable, still. Shimming the strike area plus using 3" screws to go all the way through frame and shims and into the studs significantly increases kick-in resistance. Using a reinforced strike further improves that, and is a fairly inexpensive upgrade (!$10). – keshlam Jun 1 '15 at 16:18

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