How to Build a Gun Safe Room
When you first start out, a gun safe makes sense for storing your guns. Maybe just a .22 and shotgun to start with. But as your collection grows and the number of gun safes multiply, a gun safe room starts to make more sense. There are thousands of things to think about when building a gun safe room. To start the process, we’ve put together a guide to help make sure you get all your bases covered.
Why Build a Gun Safe Room?
There are many reasons to build a home vault room, but why build a gun safe room? Gun safe rooms are usually used to store and display guns. Many people use gun safe rooms for other security as well. Here are a few comments and questions to think about as you build you gun safe room:
Forced entry protection is critical for a gun safe room. If a burglar is looking to steal guns and valuables inside your safe room, they will break in when you aren't home. This gives them a longer time to get into the room.
Fire protection is an important aspect of a gun safe room. Spending the time and money to properly protect from fire can save thousands of dollars if the worst happens.
How will you use your gun vault room? If you run a gun shop or go to the range daily, you’ll want to build the room in a convenient location. The trade off is security - the more hidden and remote the room, the more secure it is.
Do you want your room to be bulletproof? If you want to protect the room from gun shots from the outside, make sure your gun safe door and safe room walls are built for ballistics protection.
How will you control moisture? Moisture is the number one enemy of any gun safe room. We will hit on some important aspects of moisture protection, but we recommend you check out our guide on how to prevent moisture problems in your safe room
How to build a gun safe room
Choose the location
Select the wall, ceiling, and floor material
Decide on HVAC and humidity control
Choose a gun safe door
Choose the location
Choosing the correct place to put your gun safe room can prevent headaches in the future. What to consider on location?
- Ease of access - If you run a gun shop or go to the range daily, making your gun safe room in a convenient spot is important. Basements are more secure than above ground safe rooms, but if ease of access is important you might build the room in your garage, or in place of a mud room.
- Protection from forced entry - A basement is the best place to make your gun safe room protected from forced entry. Concrete walls with rebar, and dirt around 2 or more sides makes the room very protected. What if you don’t have a basement? You can add concrete blocks to a garage to make a room strong like a concrete basement. What if you can’t add a concrete or block room right now? Consider adding a fortified room. This type of room is made from standard building materials with a steel liner added to increase security. Check out our blog on how to turn a closet into a safe room to get ideas on how to to turn a normal wood and drywall room into a safe room.
- Fire protection - Any concrete or block structure will be more resistant to fire than standard building materials. Even a room made with wood and drywall can be fire resistant if designed correctly. Wherever possible, use fire rated materials, like fire rated drywall, steel studs, concrete, and fire rated insulation like ceramic fiber. Be sure to either cover or properly seal vents and holes to prevent smoke and flame from entering your safe room. Another thing to consider - what will be near the room? A kitchen is a much higher risk from fire than a bedroom closet. If possible, keep the room away from high risk fire areas.
- Moisture prevention - While basements might be the best protection from intruders, they can also cause moisture problems. If your basement is consistently moist or if your valuables are very sensitive to moisture, a ground level gun safe room might be best. But if you want the benefits of a basement while controlling moisture concerns, check out our blog on how to prevent moisture problems in your safe room
Select the wall, ceiling, and floor material
The type of construction used in your gun safe room will be the biggest factor in security and fire protection. Here are the major construction types for a safe room starting with the best choice.
- Concrete with rebar - This is the best choice for a gun safe room. This has excellent security and fire protection. Concrete and rebar is also affordable when compared to standard wall construction. We alway recommend at least 8 inch concrete walls, with at least some rebar. Work with your contractor to make sure the ceiling of the room is concrete as well.
- Concrete block - This is a great choice if concrete is not an option. Concrete block is also ideal if you’re adding a room to an existing garage or slab floor. This eliminates the need for concrete forms and access by a truck. Work with a masonry contractor to plan out your build. A few drawbacks to concrete block - they are less resistant to moisture, and have thinner walls making them less protected from intrusion. A simple fix is to slush the inside of the blocks with concrete. This improves the strength and water resistance of concrete blocks. For a ceiling - consider corrugated steel or prefab concrete slabs.
- Drywall, wood/steel studs, and steel liners - This option may not be the best for security and fire protection, but it can be the best way to get your gun safe room built quickly into an existing home. Check out our blog on how to turn a closet into a safe room for ideas on construction. A few highlights? Use multiple layers of fire rated drywall. Consider using extra studs or larger studs (2”x6”) to increase ramming and fire strength. Add a steel liner or several steel liners to improve strength, fire protection, and ballistics protection. Don’t forget to make the floor and ceiling as strong and protected as the walls.
Decide on HVAC and Humidity Control
Humidity control is critical for any gun safe room. We recommend controlling the humidity of the whole house as the best guard against moisture problems. If you intend to use your safe room daily, then the exchange of air from the surrounding house may be enough to keep the air fresh and not build up with humidity. If you’ll be in the room less frequently, you might connect your safe room to your home's HVAC system or add a dehumidifier inside the safe room. Check out our blog on preventing moisture problems in safe rooms to get a deep dive into moisture problems. One thing to consider - adding a dehumidifier or HVAC connection to your safe room does increase fire risk inside the room. Some planning can reduce these risks like putting the dehumidifier in an area without flammable materials. Connecting and sealing the HVAC vents properly can reduce the risk of smoke and flame.
Choose a Gun Safe Door
After choosing the best location and construction of a gun safe room the next step is to select a gun safe door that matches your goals. There are many things to consider when choosing a gun safe door, but here is a quick list to get you started. Have questions or want help choosing your safe door? Call us at 800-521-0335
- Match the safe door to your room construction - If you make a safe room with 10 inches of concrete, you shouldn’t put a thin 14ga or 3/16” steel door on the room. You also don’t need a 1 inch thick door skin, like our Extreme gun vault door, if your wall is drywall and 2”x4” studs. Here is a quick guide of which door to pick based on room construction:
- Drywall and wood studs - Titan and Titan Light safe doors
- Concrete, 8in to 10in - Heavy or Magnum safe doors
- Concrete block, 8in to 10in - Heavy or Magnum safe doors
- 10 inch thick + walls - Extreme safe door, Elite safe door, Stainless Steel Elite safe door
- Choose fire protection to match your goals - All Smith Security Safe doors come with expanding fire seals that ensure 1hr protection from smoke and flame. There are a few other parts of fire protection. The thickness of the door plate impacts fire protection because a thinner plate will warp and allow smoke and flames in the gaps. Another way to improve fire rating is to choose a door with our ceramic fire upgrade. This feature includes 2 inches of ceramic fiber insulation, the same insulation used on blast furnaces! This protects the safe room from temperature rise. Remember that most fires get as hot as 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, temperature rise is a real concern. Here is a quick guide on choosing a Smith safe door for fire protection:
- Fire Level 1 (least protection): Titan and Titan Light safe door
- Fire Level 2: Heavy, Magnum, Extreme, and Elite safe doors without ceramic fiber
- Fire level 3 (best protection): Magnum, Extreme, Elite and Stainless Steel Elite safe doors with ceramic fiber
- Consider ballistics protection - If you’re concerned about your safe door being bulletproof consider what thickness and material the door skin is. Our Titan gun safe door has a 1 ⁄ 4 '' steel door skin that can stop small arms fire like 0.22 caliber and small handguns. If you need great protection, thicker steel improves the ballistic resistance. Our Extreme safe door has a 1” thick solid steel plate that will stop medium caliber rifles. To get the best protection? Upgrade the door skin to AR500. We can customize any gun safe door to get a thick AR500 door skin plate. We just made a matching set of safe doors that had a 1.5” thick AR500 door plate! Now that’s protection!:
Building a gun safe room can be complicated but hopefully we got you started in the right direction. Security, fire, moisture, and ballistic protection are just a few things to consider when building your gun safe room. Did we miss something? Let us know and we’ll add it to this article!