04 Nov Keep SAFE – Select the Right Security Door for Your Home Vault
Suppose you inherit a small gun collection and some rare coins. Your children are getting older and more inquisitive. You feel it is important to keep the guns out of their reach and for that matter some of the antique pennies as well. Maybe you have started getting involved with genealogy and want to protect the pictures and documents that have been collected.
So you start looking at a gun safe as a means of protection. Before long, you realize you have far more items that need to be protected from theft and fire and the kids than would fit in a gun safe – passports, photo albums of the kids, DVDs, insurance papers, the deed to the house and grandpa’s antique pocket watch. The more you look at gun safes, the less you like them. You don’t want a large metal box in the living room and getting the large safe downstairs is going to be a challenge.
Then it hits you. Why not make a home vault. Banks have vaults to protect valuables, so why not have one in your home. You may even have perfect place for it. Some homes have an entire cement room under the porch; complete with cement walls and ceiling. All it needs is a secure vault door. The room would be protected from theft, from fire and from your kids.
But with all the different vault doors available in the market, it is challenging to select the right one. I like to remember “Keep SAFE” – S for Security, A for Appearance, F for Fire protection and E for Ease-of use.
Security is usually the main reason for getting a vault door. Security involves the locking bolts, the lock, steel thickness and other safety features inside a vault door. As a general rule, the bigger the bolts and the more bolts there are, the more secure the vault door will be. I always look for a UL rated lock. That means it has been tested and has passed rigorous break-in and tampering tests. I like the electronic key-pad lock but many doors also come with options for a mechanical (dial) or a biometric (fingerprint) lock. Thicker steel also adds to the strength and security of the door. I like to look inside the vault door as well. You should find heavy metal bars connecting the bolts and some sort of cam or gear system that moves them. There should be a steel plate in front of the lock to protect it from someone trying to drill out the lock.
Appearance will always be a judgment call. What one person likes another may not. I like vault doors with a nice gloss black finish and polished hardware. Most vault doors have a variety of colors or may come with a primed finish to allow you to paint it any color you want. You can even get a vault door with silk-screened artwork and pin-striping.
Fire protection is a large part of selecting a vault door. I look for some sort of fire resistant material in the door and make sure it has a quality fire seal around the door frame. Another thing I have learned about fire protection is making sure the vault door stays rigid and sealed if exposed to heat. Steel thickness helps with the rigidity of a door and keeps the door in contact with the fire seal in case of a fire. I don’t want a door that will bend or flex. If the vault door bends or warps because of heat and loses contact with the fire seal, fire can enter into the vault and damage the contents. The thicker the steel the more rigid a door will be. But watch out for the weight of the door. More steel means a heavier door and that brings me to the next point.
Easy-to-use vault doors make it more likely the vault will actually be used. If the door is too heavy or difficult to open, it will not get used as often. Your room will often determine if an in-swing or out-swing is best. If you select an in-swing door, make sure there is enough clearance. The last thing you want is to only be able to partially open the door. Out-swing doors often open a full 180 degrees so you have maximum clearance when putting things into the vault. The internal opening device should be easy to open; especially for a child should they happen to find themselves on the inside. Also, consider the installation of the door. Is it something I can do myself on the weekend or do I need to hire a professional?
Whether you are making an under-the-porch cement room into a vault or turning a closet into a vault, make sure you select the vault door that works for you. Look at Security, Appearance, Fire protection and Ease-of-use vault doors and Keep SAFE.