A solid vault provides the best burglary and fire protection available, and they’re also relatively easy to conceal. However, every vault comes with a built-in potential weak point: The vault door. Here are some common advertising tricks, scams, and just plain old mistakes to watch out for as you’re shopping for the best vault door:
1. Not researching the competition. We encourage you to research safe and vault door companies–even us–before making such a substantial, permanent purchase. Researching the right vault door can take a while, but it makes the difference between getting the best protection available, or ending up with a vault door made of drywall (more on that below). We’ve created a list of both false and legitimate safe and security ratings to help you identify how much protection the vault doors you’re looking at really offer.
2. Picking a vault door based on thickness alone.Your vault door should be made of no less than 1/2-inch of solid steel plate; otherwise, burglars will be able to enter it in minutes. Be wary of vault doors that are impressively thick but don’t identify their materials; they often contain drywall sandwiched between sheets of steel. Sometimes the “thickness” measurement is also padded by including the airspace, inner bolt work, and so on; insist on a specific description of the materials in your vault door, including details about how thick the steel plates are, and a legitimate protection rating, to ensure that you’re getting good quality.Watch out for vault doors made of “composite” materials which could be almost anything, including wood or drywall; also, beware of steel identified by gauge (8-gauge, 20-gauge, so on) instead of by inches of thickness; even the heaviest gauge is far thinner than 1/2” of solid steel.
3. Disregarding bolt length and fasteners. Learn to identify vault features that are built for show instead of security. Pay close attention to how each feature integrates with the whole; for example, big locking bolts are of no use if they’re attached with flimsy hardware, or don’t extend very far into the vault door. Likewise if your vault door is made of flimsy materials, the locking bolts or re-lockers could tear straight through it when subjected to a leverage attack.
4. Not identifying hinge direction. There are two ways this can go wrong. First, imagine purchasing an expensive, heavy vault door, only to find that it doesn’t swing open the way you imagined; always check this detail early in the purchasing process. Sometimes limited configurations are available–for example, Class 5 GSA-approved vault doors must swing out, not in.Second, make sure that you understand how hinge locations are designated. For our vaults and safes, the hinges are designated by their placement as you’re standing outside the vault, facing the door–but that’s not always the case with other manufacturers, who may designate doors variously as left- and right-swing, or left- and right-hand, and don’t always explain what each designation means.
5. Installing a vault in the wrong location. Even if you have the perfect vault door, poor placement can permanently reduce its value–and efficacy–inside your home. Sometimes you can outthink yourself by choosing a vault that’s so safe and hard to enter that you’re not likely to use it, or placing an otherwise accessible vault too far out of the way. Always balance the practical consideration of convenience against ultimate security; it’s better to have a slightly less secure vault that you actually use, as opposed to a perfectly secure vault that falls out of use because it’s too hard to get into, or placed in an inconvenient location.
Now that you know some of the pitfalls associated with selecting a vault door, be sure to check out our tips for selecting the best vault door to find all the need to know information to find the perfect vault door for you.