Even if you store most of your valuables at your local bank, you probably have collectables, jewelry, or even family heirlooms at home that you want to keep protected. A wall safe provides an affordable, reliable, and convenient way to ensure burglars can’t get their hands on your treasured possessions.
Many people are dissuaded from getting a wall safe, because they don’t want to hire an expensive contractor to install it — in reality, installing a wall safe yourself can be quite straightforward.
Use the following guide to help you in install a wall safe in your home. Check whether your specific safe comes with instructions, and use those alongside these guidelines; as manufacturer instructions may cover points specific to your particular safe.
What You Will Need
The tools required to install a wall safe may change, according to your specific circumstances. Most of the time, you’ll need the following resources:
- Protective covers for furniture
- Safety glasses
- Keyhole saw, or jigsaw
- Measuring tape, or ruler
- Magnetic stud finder
- A carpenter’s level
- Your wall safe, of course!
Remember to select a wall safe that adheres to your specific needs. For most people, this means checking the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Intertek (ETL) ratings on the safe before you buy it. Some also find it worthwhile to pay for extra features such as fire-resistance, water-resistance, and high-tech access solutions.
Step 1: Choose the Right Wall
Before you purchase your safe, decide on a wall that will support it. Choose a wall that has no plumbing, wiring, or heating ducts behind it that might obstruct your safe. Ensure there’s enough space to create a hole about five feet up, for easy access. If you hope to keep the safe concealed, consider a wall inside of a cabinet or closet.
If your safe is designed to fit in the space between two walls, you don’t need to worry about the room behind it. If your safe is going to protrude through the back wall, find a location where the back of the safe will be hidden — such as in a utility room, closet, or garage.
It’s often best to select a location away from the regular traffic in any given room; such as in the base cabinet of a kitchen, or under a shelf. The key is that your safe shouldn’t be easy to find, for people who don’t know about it.
Step 2: Determine the Correct Size Safe
Once you’ve chosen a wall, find a safe that fits the space. Most wall safes are around 15 inches wide, and will fit between standard wall studs (set 16 inches apart in the average home). To make sure your safe will fit, locate the studs in your chosen wall, mark their locations, then measure the distance between them.
In some older houses, the studs aren’t set at the standard distance apart — in this case, you may need to invest in wooden blocks designed to narrow the opening for your safe, or install brackets to support the safe.
Step 3: Mark Out Your Space
It’s important to fix your safe between existing studs in your wall, to keep it less noticeable. Once you’ve measured the studs to ensure your safe will fit, create a template for the size of your safe on the wall, using a carpenter’s level. Make sure the outline is straight and precise, otherwise you could end up with a hole that doesn’t fit your chosen safe.
Step 4: Cut a Hole Big Enough for Your Safe
With your dimensions carefully measured and marked, you can start cutting a hole into your wall. Use protective cloths to avoid getting dust all over your furniture. You might want to turn off the circuit breaker in the part of the house where you’re working; to ensure safety, on the off-chance that you run into wiring you didn’t know about.
Before you begin sawing into your wall, put a screw in the middle of the wall section you’re cutting — this allows you to remove the drywall later, without risking it falling inside the wall. Saw along the lines of the template you marked on the wall, then grab on the screw to pull out the segment of drywall, and discard it.
Step 5: Fit the Safe into The Wall
Slide the safe into the hole you cut in the wall, supporting the weight with your hands as you guide the box into the opening. If the area surrounding the safe is too wide, you might need to add shims for a better fit.
With the safe securely in the opening, drill holes into the wall studs from inside the safe, and attach your safe to the studs using screws. This ensures that burglars can’t simply slide your safe out of the wall, and take it with them.
With your safe bolted in place, all that’s left to do is to place your valuables inside, and lock the door.