A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
Hidden floor safes have some unique considerations based on the perks and pitfalls of being below ground. We will dig a bit deeper into those differences, as well as keeping the article accessible to first-time safe buyers.
One thing we will not discuss is opening floor safes. Information on what to do when a safe won’t open, needs its own article. That being said, if you need a locksmith to open a safe that is installed in the floor, give United Locksmith a call.
Beyond the most frequently asked questions, here is what you need to know about hidden floor safes:
A good rule for safe prices is that the final cost should be roughly 10% of the replacement cost of what you are securing. Because the “hidden” element of a disguised floor safe offers additional security, the price of installation is included in that 10% calculation.
Hidden floor safes are best disguised by a thoughtfully placed rug, large enough that it can move several inches in any direction without revealing the safe. If you can place furniture over the safe, this will increase the effectiveness of the camouflage but reduce accessibility.
A hidden floor safe needs a specially made compartment that fits the proper dimensions of the device. Many floor safes will require the compartment to have its own door or cover, so there is no noticeable change in the floor if anyone were to step over the safe.
The fire rating on a hidden floor safe will vary from product to product, but many do not have an advertised temperature and duration threshold. It is a belief of some safe manufactures that simply being installed under the floor offers enough fire protection.
Unless the safe you are purchasing states it is a waterproof in-ground safe, assume that it is not. Because a hidden floor safe is best installed bolted to the ground, there is no way for the manufacturer to guarantee the safe will remain watertight.
The weight of your hidden floor safe is dependent on the metal content and size. A small floor safe with a mixture of half-inch steel and 12 gauge will come in under 80 pounds. Larger safes will weigh 100 pounds and up.
A hidden floor safe cannot be installed on the ground floor of structures with post-tension slab foundations. Cutting or coring floors with tensioned cables beneath the surface can damage the structural integrity of a building. This must be checked before moving on to installation.
Your two main cost considerations for a hidden floor safe are the price of the safe and installation. The cost of the safe is mainly dependent on the size and metal content. There are several types of security safes even within the specific category of “hidden floor safe.”
The larger the safe and the thicker the steel, the more expensive it will be. The price of installing hidden floor safes is going to be based on the complexity of the job. For example, installation in concrete rather than wood will require additional tools and time.
It is possible to save money on your hidden floor safe by installing it yourself, but you have to be careful when preparing your installation location. If your home has a post-tension slab foundation, cutting into the floor can be extremely dangerous.
For an outdoor in-ground safe, you will only need to dig a hole with the proper dimensions. However, greater effort will be needed for waterproofing. There are always workarounds to get a hidden floor safe, except when it comes to the price itself.
The locking mechanism for your safe affects how quickly the device can be opened, lighting requirements, and the ease of changes in physical access control. Ease of access will already be diminished by the placement of the safe, so these concerns may be more pressing.
Many safe owners prefer electronic locks because they are faster to open, the numbers light up, and changing the safe combination is much easier. Manual dial locks are desired for their reliability. Though they can be less convenient, manual dials function without power.
Safes that open with a physical key are still likely to use one of these types of combination locks, which means you can always unlock a safe without a key. But this offers you another way to open your safe in the event you forgot the combination to your safe.
When you are buying a home safe, you have to think about dimensions in terms of how they affect storage capacity and possible installation locations. For example, a large floor safe may end up partially under furniture that would need to be moved when opening the safe.
You have to consider the free floor space available to you. Then measure the items you want to store, and calculate how shelving will reduce the available space. Once you know your desired measurements and available space, you can choose the appropriate hidden floor safe.
One of the best tips for first-time safe buyers is to purchase a safe they can grow into. This is even more important when it comes to a hidden floor safe, which cannot be as easily replaced if you do end up outgrowing it. A safe with new dimensions means you need a new compartment.
If you think you may want a large floor safe, it is important to make that investment up front. The size you get is the size you are committed to. You do not want to try to retrofit an existing hidden floor safe compartment to accommodate a different size safe.
How your safe is made determines its level of security, and therefore its level of practical value. The best construction trends of the top safe companies include half-inch steel for both the door and safe body held together with a continuous weld.
The type of steel used is often listed in gauges, with 12-gauge steel being the bare minimum to differentiate between safes or lockboxes. If the security device uses anything in excess of 13-gauge, it is not considered a gun safe. And anything spot-welded should not be called a safe.
Many safes do not use the same steel content in their safe doors as they do with the safe body, but this is less important with hidden floor safes. Because the walls of the safe are not exposed, the strength of the door is what ultimately matters most.
Quality installation comes down to placement and craftsmanship. Even though you are using a hidden floor safe, and this is one of the best places to install a safe, placement can still undermine security as well as functionality.
The craft of your safe compartment encompasses everything that affects how secure it is in the compartment and how easily the safe can be disguised. You do not want a creaky safe cover or for the floor to look uneven or distinct over the hidden floor safe.
Security comes from having the smallest gap possible between the safe walls and compartment ways. This prevents leveraging and prying attacks that would seek to pull out the safe. This type of attack is also thwarted by installation, which properly bolts the floor safe into its compartment.
What you are storing in a hidden floor safe matters for more than just the size of the safe. You also have to think about how often you need access to what you are storing. Is this something you need to reach in an emergency?
It can take a long time to reveal the safe, then open it, and then retrieve an item, so a hidden floor safe is not ideal for emergency access. And a disguised floor safe needs to be undisguised and re-disguised after each use, so each opening leaves the chance for it to be discovered.
Hidden floor safes are more effective the less they are accessed. It is best to store things in a floor safe that can largely be left alone. These include rare metals, cash, legal documents, and hard drives, which represent long-term investments that you need out of the way and secure.
Among the things people do not know about safes, many safe buyers are unaware that floor safes are rarely waterproof. For that reason, anything not waterproof should be placed in a watertight housing or case within the hidden floor safe.
Before you invest in a hidden floor safe, you need to know what you are storing, how much room you need, and what the safe should cost. On the more technical side of things, the quality of your safe construction, the locking mechanism, and installation also affect your level of security. Be sure to buy the right safe and install it correctly.
Not every safe locksmith installs hidden floor safes. United Locksmith may offer this service in the future, but currently, we only service and unlock these types of devices. Creating compartments for hidden floor safes is often best left to a construction company.