Fireproofing a non fireproof safe?


March 28, 2005, 03:57 PM
I've seen some non fireproof safes that were $250 less than fireproof ones and just wondered if anyone has used Drywall on the outside to fireproof one? Seems like I've heard people mention that some of the safe companies use a couple of layers of drywall inside the panels to fireproof them anyway. I've seen enough drywall laying around construction sites to do one if it would work. Any thoughts?

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March 28, 2005, 04:00 PM
Put a couple layers on the inside. The trick with using drywall this way is that when heated gypsum calcines and releases moisture. The contents of the safe get a steam bath, but the temperature cannot rise until all the trapped moisture is released.
It does not have to be fastened in place any more than you want for easy handling (you could just glue the corners together).

March 28, 2005, 04:02 PM
don't they make a special fire"proof" drywall aswell?


March 28, 2005, 04:09 PM
Yes, great idea. Frame two layers around your safe, and it should do wonders. Look at it this way, the insulation will be on the outside, preventing the fire from heating the box in the first place. It's really superior to installing insulation inside the safe.

March 28, 2005, 04:27 PM
Couple of things: 5/8" Drywall is fire rated, 1/2" is not; there's little fibers in the thicker stuff that hold it together. The 1/2" stuff will disintegrate. To really make a decent but cheap fireproof box build a 3/4" plywood shell to protect the Drywall from the fire department's water, falling things, and general physical security. Use two layers of 5/8" Drywall inside the plywood box. Put the safe inside, short of nuclear melt down, that oughtta keep things together.

Rabid Rabbit
March 28, 2005, 06:29 PM
I belive what you want is "blueboard" the outside paper is blue, or you could also use cement board as well. When we get our gun safe I'll tear out the regular wall board in the closet and replace it with the blueboard and if I get real ambitious I'll take out the wooden studs and replace them with metal studs. Guy at safe company said best place to put a safe from a fire prespective is at the corners of the house.

Brett Bellmore
March 28, 2005, 06:35 PM
and if I get real ambitious I'll take out the wooden studs and replace them with metal studs.

BAD idea. Wooden studs tend to char, and retain their strength until they burn through. Metal studs anneal, and turn to mush, long before that happens. I've seen pictures of burnt buildings with I beams sagging like half-melted wax over wooden beams.

March 28, 2005, 07:00 PM
You can wrap the outside in sheetrock, but what about the door?

March 28, 2005, 07:33 PM
Here's the deal. A wall built with double layers of 1/2" sheetrock on both sides is rated at 90 minutes fire resistance. That is a total of TWO INCHES of sheetrock, both layers taped and lapped to each other. Notice I said fire RESISTANT, not fire proof! Nothing is fireproof! Everything will eventually ignite or melt.

Most fire rated safes are lined in gypsum, but it's not a couple of layers of sheetrock. It's solid gypsum and the moisture content is higher which is key to the fire resistance.

My advice is to consider the value of what you are storing in the safe compared to the cost of the safe. I assume you are storing weapons and ammo. For less than the cost of one gun you can afford a proper, UL approved fire rated safe. My safe cost $255.00 with an electronic lock. Same safe with standard dial lock was $199.00. For that I get 2 hours of UL rated fire protection I have about $3,000 worth of weapons in the safe. $250 is cheap insurance.

March 28, 2005, 07:47 PM
I belive what you want is "blueboard" the outside paper is blue,
Nope , blueboard is designed to be skim plastered over.
or you could also use cement board as well.
Nope , designed to be a tile backer for ceramic tile, no fire rating.

Blueboard I've seen is not "fire rated" , cement board would almost certainly transmit too much heat through the walls and is extremely heavy. Fire rated drywall will say "fire rated" on the end strips that hold the sheets together in pairs.

Fire rated 5/8" drywall is about $8 a sheet, if you have a studded wall and put 2 layers of this on the outside and 2 layers on the inside properly finished of course(both layers), you have just made a 2 hour fire rated wall according to the building code (UCC).


March 28, 2005, 08:22 PM
I'll say one thing for you MikeIsaj. You got a heck of a deal on your safe! Or you've had it a long time. I've been looking for one for quite some time. In my area tall, 16 to 20 long-gun fire resistant safes are $600 for an entry level model. I guess if you can find one on sale it's possible to find one cheaper. I remember a gun show in my area where a dealer had some on a scratch and dent sale and they were around $500. I've been looking for a used one for 6 months, but haven't seen one yet.

March 28, 2005, 11:07 PM
I should clarify, mine isn't a "gun" safe but a general use safe. It is a 2 cube safe with an interior set-up that lends itself well to handgun storage. I should have made that clear. :confused:

I assumed you were looking for a larger safe for long guns when you cited the price difference. I still say that given the value of what will be in it, the extra $$$ for a proper fire rated safe is a good investment in your gun invenory.

March 28, 2005, 11:29 PM
Like the first person who replied said, you need to fireproof the inside of the safe. I believe that something along the lines of wonderboard would be better suited than would regular drywall. The idea is,as already stated, that the matrial contains moisture. No matter how much the safe is heated on the outside, it causes this moisture to turn into steam and fill the safe. Therefor items will get wet and not burn, although somethings like paper could get ruined by the water as could wood on guns. Chances are the fire would be out, items taken out of safe, before water damage got bad. Fireproof safes also have a material around door edges that expands when heated to keep out heat and smoke.

March 28, 2005, 11:30 PM
I have to say that I think this is a silly idea, and can't be as effective as buying a fire rated sfae. However, if you are intent on doing this:

"Blue board" is, as noted, not fire rated. Normal Home Depot gypsum board is not fire rated. There are fire rated gypsum boards available in the 1/2" thickness, but the most commonly available rated gypsum board is 5/8". It is designated "Type X" and that is stamped on the reverse side of each board. Not all 5/8" gypsum board is fire resistant, and if it doesn't say "Type X" (or something similar), it isn't fire resistant.

pete f
March 29, 2005, 01:54 AM
I have a customer that we did this for on two older safes and one large chest type freezer. Two layers of 1/2 inch inside. Then spacers then another two layers of 5/8" on the outside. We figured close to a three hour burn rating. Not silly at all. Proven to work, Type F fire rated drywall is an excellent and affordable way to prevent damage to valuables. The large chest type freezer was free from a neighbor and after the guts were pulled out, and new racks added it would hold fifty two or fifty four rifles and shotguns. This house had nothing that would have prepared me for the collection of pre 64 Winchesters. I thought it was a ho hum job till i saw what they were protecting. The owner had owned a coast to coast hardware store and had bought one of each as they came out, he was missing only one caliber of any model ever put out by winchester in the pre 64 model 70; he claimed he had all but the 7.65 argentine.

March 29, 2005, 07:31 AM
Hate to rain on every one's parade but as Dave said, what about the door? On every fire resistant safe I have ever seen there was a special expanding gasket to seal it. Supposed you could somehow fasten two layers of 5/8" sheetrock to the back of the door, you are still not protecting the gap between the door and the frame.

March 29, 2005, 08:24 AM
"a special expanding gasket to seal it" can be found at most any hardware store that sells wood heaters, it's the same stuff used around fire place doors to keep the smoke and heat in. it comes in different sizes and although you might have to make a channel for it to sit in, :cool: it is still cheeper than buying a store bought safe.

March 29, 2005, 11:43 AM
...and that can be dangerous!

OK, I have a gun "closet" that has a hollow-core door with a deadbolt.

Say, I seal off the inside of the closet and line it (including ceiling and floor) with two layers of the 5/8" fire-resistant wallboard.

How best to deal with the door to make it fire resistant? Buy a solid wood door? Slap two layers of wallboard on the inside of the existing hollow-core door?

March 29, 2005, 04:04 PM
Two layers of 1/2 inch drywall (not fire rated) will work fine inside a safe. The fire rated drywall is designed to remain intact when supported on studs. This is not a very significant issue onside a safe.
Cement board is not as good at releasing moisture at lower temps than gypsum. Cement board is more resistant because it holds together longer since it takes a higher temperature to calcine out the moisture.
If you want to protect a closet or single room a fire rated door (typically solid wood with a metal layer on each side) is not that expensive. It typically does require a steel jamb to achieve the full rating.
Preventing smoke entry (door seals) is not nearly as important as just preventing temperature rise. Flames do not pass through small gaps very well at all, and the small gaps used to prevent prying of the safe door are going to work very well. Hold a piece of metal window screen in a flame and notice the flame cannot pass through the small holes.

March 29, 2005, 05:43 PM
Say, I seal off the inside of the closet and line it (including ceiling and floor) with two layers of the 5/8" fire-resistant wallboard.
That wallboard on the INSIDE of your closet is not going to keep the studs from burning and the whole house to come crashing down into the closet :(

I have been thinking this one out myself, you see ;)

The only way it would work would be to have fireproof layers of wallboard on the OUTSIDE of the closet framing, including any exterior walls and over the joists above. Probably not possible unless you are building a house from scratch (or doing a major remodel) because the fire could travel along the joists from the adjoining rooms.

Well, I suppose one could build a second set of framing including ceiling support inside the closet if it was big enough .... :confused:

April 5, 2005, 11:04 PM
You can get a fire rated door for that closet. Go to the nearest high rise building and look at the stair towers. Every door on them is a 90minute rated door. They won't miss one, I'm sure.

April 5, 2005, 11:07 PM
That's the first thing that came up when I googled "fire resistant paint". Plenty more came up, so it shouldn't be too hard to find the right product.

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