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View Full Version : Have you used a Bank Vault Door to make a larger room / closet safe?


TXAZ
January 12, 2013, 08:49 PM
We're considering converting a large closet to a secure room with a surplus bank vault door. I'm looking for someone who has actually taken an old bank vault door and put in on a room to make a larger than average gun safe. This seems like a better option than individual safes, and provides enough space for much more than just weapons.

Questions are:
How did you test the door prior to installation or did you?
Did you reinforce the walls inside the room / closet around the door for structural reasons to support the door?
For higher security, did you consider reinforcing the walls all the way around that room / closet and / or the ceiling?
Do you have a 'backdoor' way into the room?
Do you have a way out in the event you're locked in?
Did you hide it behind a regular door or is it otherwise obscured from easy view?
Any other words of wisdom or advice you would provide?

Thanks!

TheGoldenState
January 12, 2013, 08:57 PM
I would like to do this one day, too.

I think the biggest issue would be reinforcing the beams to safely hold the door.

RamItOne
January 12, 2013, 09:06 PM
How's the saying go? Something about about weakest link......

Def need to redo the walls otherwise what's the point other than it would look cool. Don't forget the ceiling.

Willie Sutton
January 12, 2013, 09:06 PM
Bank vault doors are designed to go into, well... a vault: That being a reinforced concrete box.

"Good Luck" reinforcing the walls, floor, and ceiling of an existing room to make it less work to get thru the door than to just chainsaw a hole in the ceiling from the floor above or below. I mean... really.



These things really need to be incorporated into a house at the time of construction.


Willie

.

TXAZ
January 12, 2013, 10:08 PM
Willie
Would love to build a new house, this one is 50 years old. Have to work with what I have.
Thanks

RamItOne
January 12, 2013, 10:22 PM
Will the safe/room be along any exterior walls?
Think keeping the walls intact and building concrete block walls inside the room would be the least invasive and prolly best overal way to reinforce the walls

ryanryan03
January 12, 2013, 10:58 PM
No one has asked yet, why he has a vault door laying around?

Great idea though. Good luck.

TXAZ
January 13, 2013, 09:18 AM
Ryan
There are always buildings that used to be banks that are being converted/ torn down. Often the doors are salvaged and for sale on the web. Some are the 25 to massive 7' diameter round doors but more commonly it's the 36-48"x 80" wide doors.

BillM
January 13, 2013, 09:45 AM
I built a stand alone concrete block "box" with a used vault door on it.
Rebar every 6" drilled into the slab, then filled with concrete. Door
is a Diebold class A security 2 hr fire rated door from a records vault.
The local security company upgraded the door, sold me the used one for
$200.

Inside dimensions 6ftx7ftx8ft. Should have made it bigger.:)

Double Naught Spy
January 13, 2013, 10:27 AM
Bank vault doors are designed to go into, well... a vault: That being a reinforced concrete box.

"Good Luck" reinforcing the walls, floor, and ceiling of an existing room to make it less work to get thru the door than to just chainsaw a hole in the ceiling from the floor above or below

I did some museum research years ago, touring a lot of museums. I was examining specimens in the "vault" of this one museum that had a beatiful antique, giant vault door from from late 1800s bank (donated, it was explained to me). It was impressive, but while there, they were getting high speed internet access lines installed inside the vault. I watched the technician drill holes for the wiring access through the drywall. I had to laugh. The door was beautiful, secure enough for their needs, but the room's structural security really wasn't. The door was for show. Of course they had all sorts of alarming wired up which was the real security.

So a vault door on an unsecured building really is nothing more than for show and often a quite expensive "for show" fixture. If your building doesn't have the reinforced floor, walls, ceiling, etc., then the door isn't really providing you security as much as an illusion of security. You might be better off with a hidden room than a heavy vault door that has the potential to cause foundation or structure problems. Most homes are not built with substantial localized additional weight in mind and hanging a vault door will likely require serious remodeling.


Questions are:
How did you test the door prior to installation or did you?

What sort of "test" are you talking about? A buddy of mine works for a safe company that does vault doors. They have safe/vault technicians that assure that even their used products function correctly. If you didn't buy from such a dealer, you should consider paying to have it inspected by a professional.

Do you have a 'backdoor' way into the room?
Do you have another vault door?

Do you have a way out in the event you're locked in?
Most modern vault doors are made with a means by which to exit, but not all older ones. If your vault door doesn't have this and you are worried about being inprisoned by some nefarious person, then don't install the vault door or get one that allows for egress.

4V50 Gary
January 13, 2013, 11:02 AM
Check out roll-down doors like the type you find at commercial establishments. They've got them for closets too.

603Country
January 13, 2013, 11:02 AM
There is a security option that nobody has mentioned, and most may not know of. Until we retired and moved to the country, I had no idea of the level of fear my wife had of tornados. She insisted upon having a tornado shelter/safe room built inside our house, and she did all the research. We now have a 4x6 foot solid steel room that is supposedly safe against a Level 5 tornado. It's bolted to the concrete house slab and it really is some seriously thick steel. The door can be barred from within or locked (two large dead bolts) from outside. We have gotten inside a couple of times due to tornados in the area, but mostly we use the room as a large walk-in safe for valuables. I think the whole deal cost $5000, which is pretty darned expensive, but I'm really glad we had it installed. If anyone wants the name of the company that installs them, just ask me and I'll go find the info.

603Country
January 13, 2013, 12:02 PM
Several folks have asked about the steel room, so I'll just tell you all.

US Storm Shelters, LLC
PO Box 14514
Haltom City, TX 76117

800 379 9712 or 800 868 5799
www.usstormshelters.com

Steel room sizes run from small coat closet size to full sized rooms. The assembly guys were fast and friendly and showed up precisely when they said they would. Ours is 4 by 6 feet and right off the bedroom. The steel door is hidden behind a wooden pocket door so that my wife's room decor isn't disturbed by a big old ugly steel door.

4V50 Gary
January 13, 2013, 12:22 PM
Thanks for the info on USStormShelters. They're cheaper (cost wise) than some of the larger high-end gun safes.

a1abdj
January 13, 2013, 09:56 PM
Most bank vault doors are going to start in the 3,000 pound range and go up into the 20 ton range. They are usually very difficult to rig and remove from a standing bank building.

How are you planning on putting one of these in an existing house?

Residential structures need something much more lightweight than a bank vault door, unless as mentioned above, the house was purpose built to include one.

zincwarrior
January 13, 2013, 10:10 PM
Wouldn't a vault door like break your house?:(

jason_iowa
January 13, 2013, 11:36 PM
My whole house is reinforced concrete You have to go through a vault door to get into the basement. It was poured in with the house. Not a true bank vault door but just one from a safe company. My gun room has 2 safes which can not be removed, poured walls are to narrow for them to be taken through. So unless you are one hell of a safe cracker you are going to need explosives or some pretty heavy equipment to get anything from my basement. I built it for me with security/ "fireproof" in mind and I'm gonna have to die here because Ill never sell it for what I paid to build it 10 years ago. Its your basic ranch style concrete bunker.

LRChops
January 14, 2013, 01:42 AM
I have a buddy who has a bank vault door he uses as a workbench in his shop. Bank vault doors are perfectly flat and are like a huge swage block!!! Awesome work table for the metal fabricator!