Must haves: Heavy-duty, hardened steel locking bolts and bars
We’ve talked about why thick doors are a must, but even the thickest of doors is only as good as the bolts or bars that keep it shut. Makes sense, right? If you have a 2-foot-thick steel door but it can be pried open using a 2x4 because your locking bolts are flimsy, the thickness of the steel really didn’t matter, did it?
You need locking bars/bolts made from the thickest, heaviest, strongest steel construction. Traditional locking bolts are only 1” in diameter, but you’ll want better protection than that. At Liberty Safe, our doors are made using our exclusive military-style locking bars. These solid bars are made from a single piece of steel, rather than being riveted to an angle bar like traditional bolts (which are easily defeated by determined pry or impact attacks).
As a result of thick steel doors combined with our hardened, military-style locking bars, Liberty Safe vault doors are virtually impossible to pry open.
Why solid fire protection is vital for a vault door
You may be surprised to learn that not every safe room is designed with fire protection in mind. However, this is a huge oversight, even if your safe/vault room is constructed of hardened, reinforced concrete (see below). If you want to protect your valuable possessions from roasting like marshmallows in an intense house fire, you’ll need a safe room that’s more than just sheetrock and studs. The same goes for your vault door—it needs serious fire protection because it’s the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your vault room’s contents from fire and heat.
There are three key factors in a vault door’s fire protection: the insulation, the steel, and the seal. We’ve already covered how thicker steel is better when it comes to a vault door, and the same principle applies here. The thicker the steel and the thicker the door, the longer it takes for the intense heat of a house fire to make its way through.
This brings us to the second vital factor of an effective fire-resistant vault door: the insulation.
The insulation layer/s in a vault door (ideally fire-rated gypsum board, known as “fire-board”) helps prevent heat from entering the room by resisting both conduction and convection.
Third, a good vault door should also come with a strip of fire seal that runs around the edge. A good fire seal expands several times its size when exposed to extreme heat, filling the door jamb and sealing it shut. This helps keep both heat AND smoke out. And as anyone who has dealt with a house fire knows, the smoke can be as deadly and damaging to valuable as the actual fire.
So, if you pick a door that has several layers of industry-rated fire-board and a quality fire seal (such as a Palusol seal), you’ll dramatically improve your safe room’s fire resistance.
To be clear: we’re talking here about keeping your valuables safe in a fire. You should never try to shelter in your safe room during a fire. You should get everyone out of the building as soon as possible.
The innovative (and potentially lifesaving) Internal Lockout Mechanism
Our final must-have feature for your vault door is something that you may not have even considered or known existed: an internal lockout mechanism. This is a key feature for vault or safe rooms that you intend to use as a potential “panic room.” A lockout mechanism allows you to make it impossible to open the vault door from the outside.
It works like this—you enter your safe room, close the door and lock it, then pull a lever or engage a mechanism that disables the external dial or keypad. This internal lockout mechanism makes it impossible to unlock the door from the outside.
With this feature on your vault door, even someone who knows the combination to the door will be unable to unlock it from the outside.
Liberty Safe has the right vault door for you
So there you have it, the top four features of quality vault doors. (We’ll go over some other factors you should consider below.) Liberty Safe has a wide selection of USA-made vault doors for every budget and every need. Click to check out Liberty Safe’s vault doors.
Other factors to consider for a home safe room or vault
As we mentioned above, the actual door is just one aspect of a safe and effective vault room. The area around the door and the construction of the room itself is equally important. Here are some factors you should consider when designing your home’s vault, safe room, or “panic room.”
Hardened, reinforced concrete walls are a solid choice
There are other materials suitable for vault construction, but the most practical is likely to have your home’s vault room constructed/poured during your initial home construction, with walls, floor, and ceiling made as thick as possible from hardened, steel-reinforced concrete. This is within the realm of most construction contractors and makes for a very secure space when paired with a proper vault door.
Yes, with enough time and the right tools, you can get through hardened, steel-reinforced concrete, but the process will be noisy and difficult and time-consuming, and that’s the point. You want to make it so difficult and time-consuming that bad actors will choose somewhere else to go.
Humidity control and drainage considerations for your vault room
If you know anything about enclosed concrete spaces in parts of the world where there’s a lot of humidity in the air, you know about mold, mildew, and moisture damage. All gun safes should be humidity-controlled, and your home’s vault room is no exception.
It would be tragic for you to store all of your most valuable possessions in your vault room, only to return after a few weeks or months to find them irreparably damaged by the effects of humidity.
So make sure you have a plan for dealing with moisture in the air, such as a dehumidifier with redundant power supply, and a way for dealing with water that may result from flooding (or from the dehumidifier itself), such as a proper drain system and sump pump if necessary. It’s also a good idea to keep any valuables up off of the floor in case of some flooding.
Do you need an emergency exit from your vault room?
This is an area where your individual considerations will need to take precedent, but if you plan on using your vault as a “panic room,” you should consult with a specialist and make sure you have all the safety and technical aspects of the panic room worked out fully.
There may be situations where you might consider installing a hidden emergency exit portal or ladder out of your vault, but remember, any way out is also a potential way in, so be extra careful about security and be careful who you let know about your panic room.
Again, this is something about which you should consult with a licensed and knowledgeable professional.