How Will I Get My Hidden Door Open?

Man opening hidden book case door

Most doors are designed to be relatively straightforward to open and close. Just look for the doorknob and turn it to release the latch. But with a hidden door, it’s natural to wonder how it even opens in the first place.

The whole appeal behind these secret entrances is how they hold a bit of mystery while seamlessly blending with the rest of the interior design. It’s natural for them to not have a clear handle or any other indicator. But rest assured, it’s more than easy to get the door to open.

Getting Your Hidden Door to Open

Opening your hidden door will only take a few seconds with the simple mechanisms pre-installed into the material. Pick the option that works for you and stick with it.

Handheld Magnet

A magnetic key entry is the standard switch to open your door. Certain parts of the door are equipped with sensors behind the wood trim that can detect the presence of a magnetic field through the wood, so all you need to do is wave the magnet nearby. This switch type can work with all wooden secret doors and shelves and is particularly popular for mirror-hidden doors.  This particular secret switch type has the advantage of requiring almost no electricity, so a door that uses it can operate on the same set of AA batteries for years and access to a power outlet is unnecessary.


Wireless access controls like a key FOB are convenient to use. Like a wireless car key, this item lets you open the hatch by clicking a button and sending a wireless radio signal. As long as you’re within a 60-foot range, you can make it seem like the passageway revealed itself by magic. Keep these in your pockets at all times or have them hidden in a hollowed-out book.

Tilt FOB

Picture opening a secret door by simply tilting a book. The bookcase will swing wide open like in the movies. The tilt FOB works similarly to the key FOB, but utilizes a balancing mechanism rather than a button. When the FOB is tilted, a tiny level sensor activates and unlocks the passageway. 

You can even pick out the book title and cover for the tilt mechanism. This will add sentimentality when accessing your hidden room in the household. While the book is by far the most popular option, the tilt FOB and sensor can also be placed in items like vases or statues.

Wireless Keypad

If you want to choose something more secure, a wireless keypad is ideal. Unlike other access controls, you can set up a unique code to keep your valuables safe. People won’t be able to access the space unless they know the password. Keep the keypad in a hollowed-out book or put it on the wall for easy access, covertly camouflaged with a piece of decor.

Panel wall door designed by Hidden Door Store.

What to Remember with Access Controls

The four main access control methods are all designed to be easy to use. All wireless options are especially convenient, allowing you to open the secret doors from at least 40 feet away. Longer distances up to 100 feet may also work, depending on the client’s home setup. 

If clients have unique ideas or designs, we suggest they select a basic switch when placing the order, but then call us to tell us about their idea.  We can almost always accommodate it for a small fee, and if they got their secret switch idea from a movie it’s almost certain that we know exactly how to make it because we’ve already done it before.  Having this option allows clients to have uniquely personalized hidden door ideas without the extra cost of a fully customized door.

Unlocking Is Not the Same As Opening

Clever access control devices will allow you to release the lock, but that does not mean that the door will actually open under its own power.  An optional auto-opening device can be added to most secret doors so that it automatically pops partially open whenever it is unlocked.  This feature is especially popular with clients that plan to show their secret door off to friends. If you do NOT select the auto-opener option then when you trigger the door to unlock you may hear a slight click when the door unlocks, but it won’t actually move.  You’ll still have to push or pull it open to access your hidden space.   However, all our doors ride on very smooth low-friction hinges so opening the door manually will be nearly effortless.

Contingency Measures for Closed Doors

Some clients are concerned about what will happen if a switch fails or a battery goes dead. To mitigate that concern we’ve designed alternative methods of ingress to prevent the client from getting locked out. 

Dead Batteries

The handheld magnet is the only unlock method that can operate on AA batteries rather than by using an outlet. This makes it particularly popular due to its affordability and ease of installation.   Since the lock only draws on the batteries for the split second that the door is unlocking, a set of AA batteries can easily last 2 or more years even with daily use.   We recommend that you mark your calendar to change the batteries once per year to be safe, but if you forget your door will eventually fail to unlock and you’ll have to use a special tool that we provide to get it open so that you can replace them.  If your door won’t unlock, chances are the batteries need to be replaced.  Key fobs, tilt fobs and wireless keypads also use batteries, but those can easily be replaced with batteries from any hardware store without the need for special tools.

Fail-Secure Locks

In case of power failures, a fail-safe door will unlock unless the client opts for a backup battery, as there won’t be any power going to the locking mechanism. Fail-secure locks are different, in that they remain locked even when the power goes out. In this situation, electronic unlock mechanisms won’t work properly until power is restored. The average power outage in the United States will last for seven hours, which will typically be covered by backup batteries.

The interiors of all hidden doors have a handle that allows you to exit your secret room in case of such emergencies. If you’re outside the room, accessibility depends on whether you have a backup battery to keep the door powered in case of emergency. 

Open Your Hidden Door with Ease

Getting your hidden door to open is easy with the access mechanisms integrated into the design of all of our available options. Feel free to browse our secret door showroom and find one that works with your home.