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Wall Safe Installation Guide

How To Install A Wall Safe

How do you install a wall safe? We often receive basic questions about installing a wall safe between studs. Below are general instructions on installing a wall safe. Each wall safe comes with specific instructions from the manufacturer on how to install their wall safe. Please use this as a general guide and refer to the specific instructions which come with the safe and most can also be found on our website.

Choose the location for your wall safe carefully. While choosing the location of your wall safe, check that the area of wall does not contain electrical, plumbing, or heating duct work. Some wall safes are large enough to extend through the back side of the wall. All the fire rated wall safes are this way because they are especially large to accommodate insulation. An example is the AMSEC Model WF149 Wall Safe. If you are installing a safe like this, please read the foot note at the bottom of this page.

Some older houses might create problems because the studs might not be 16 inch on centers (O/C). Should this be your situation, you will need to either add to the studs to narrow the opening, and or you may need to install headers top and bottom to support the safe. This concern is also relevant to unusual houses like a log house.

Tools That You Will Need to Install a Wall Safe

  1. A carpenters level, Torpedo Level (either will work)
  2. A drill with a bit large enough to allow insertion of your safe. Your local hardware will have spade bits for drills and these are inexpensive and will make a large hole. 
  3. You will need some kind of saw. Any of the following would work: key hole saw, drywall saw, jigsaw, saber saw or Sawzaw.
  4. Safety glasses.
  5. An electronic stud locator, (inexpensive), You could also use a hammer (to gently tap the wall, noting that when you strike a solid area the sound will be a dead thud).
  6. A Measuring tape: (to measure height from floor). We suggest mounting at the eye level of the person most likely to use the wall safe.
  7. 2” Painters Tape (to outline a rectangular or square shape where the safe opening will be cut. Apply tape so that your outline will be centered on a 2 inch tape. This will also assist in the non-marring of the wall surrounding the opening, should you use a jig saw to cut the opening.
  8. A Phillips head screw driver, plus a flat tipped screw driver, and possibly a wrench (to fit the mounting hardware that you are using).
  9. Drop cloth: (To contain your debris from cutting the opening).
  10. Shims to space your safe snugly between the studs. If you have an odd situation where you have to work with studs that are not 16” on center, you may need a 2 x 4 board to cut in pieces to hold the safe in place. 
  11. Photo Hanger hooks (used to hang a picture to conceal the safe after installation). Some people also mount a wall safe in a closet where it can be hidden behind hanging clothes.

Step by Step Instructions

1) Remove furniture, any decorations from the area. Make sure nothing is hanging on that wall., Lay down the Drop cloth to contain any debris created from your installation. If your area (room) has carpeting below your installation space on the wall you might consider using the painters tape to tape the Drop cloth along the wall area below your work area. This will prevent dust from sawing from filtering into the wall and drop cloth juncture.

2) If you are installing a safe like the V-line Wall Safe Model 41214 with exterior Dimensions: 14"H x 12"W x 3 1/2"D, your installation only requires you to cut through the wall in the room that you are installing in. Most of our safes will fit in the wall without cutting through the back wall. Some even expand to fit the depth exactly. The First Alert 2070 has this feature. Should you be installing a safe like the WF149 Wall Safe, with exterior dimensions of H 17" x W 13" x D 14 5/8",  you will be required to cut through both sides of the wall where you are installing. Please see the footnote at the bottom of the page if you are installing an especially deep safe.

3) Most Wall safes are shipped with instructions from the Manufacturer on installation, should this be the case refer to these instructions to continue. Some instructions will include a template you can use to mark your cut-out area. Almost all our safes are pre-drilled for mounting and studs and include the hardware you will need.

4) Your next step should be to locate the studs on both sides of where you are installing the safe and mark each with a pencil. To locate the studs in the wall where you desire to install your wall safe, your local hardware most likely will have what they call a stud locator. These are small electronic devices that will locate nail heads that are covered with the sheet-rock putty. Once you have one stud located you then search to the right and or left of that stud to locate the other stud. Remember that studs are normally located on what is known in the industry as 16 inch-on-centers (C/L). This meaning that if you could see the stud, from one surface (A) to the other surface (B) is the width of a stud (1 ½ in). Then you measure from the center of each stud, to determine the location (16in C/L).

I←-----------------14 ½ in. ----------------I
I---------STUD----- ---I I-------STUD--------I
( A->I------ 1 1/2 in. -------I<-B) ( A->I---- 1 1/2 in. -------I<-B)
I<---------------------------------- 16 in C/L--------------------------------->I 

5) Make a template of the back of your safe, (the portion that will be protruding through the wall). Place your template (some safes come with a template in the instruction packet) at the height which makes entry comfortable for you. Using your carpenters level, (torpedo level), level your template, and trace around its perimeter. Again confirm that there are no electrical wires, plumbing, heating ducts located at your installation area.

6) Double check that your template is level and square. Should you not be positive that there is no electrical circuitry in your opening location turn off any circuits that might be affected.

7) Using the drill, and a spade bit, whichever size your saw would require, make holes in the four corners of the marks you made with your template.

8) If you will be using a Jig Saw to cut the opening, it helps if you apply the painters tape around the cut area to prevent marking the wall. Remove this tape once the opening has been made. Confirm that your saw blade will not be protruding through the back side of the wallboard nailed to the studs (In the other room) if your installation does not require a protrusion.

9) If your installation requires protrusion through the back side of the wall, confirm that you are holding the saw square, and perpendicular to the cut area. Cut along all four sides of the area you marked, removing the portion of wall that you cut, and discard.

10) Remember that the safe has a face flange, and thus no finishing of the cut edges will be required. 

11) Using the shim material, cut pieces to shim the studs to the dimensions required. Pre-Drill holes in the ends to prevent cracking when you fasten to the studs.

12) Place the safe in the opening, (pre drill holes for mounting), and fasten the safe to the studs.

13) Remove any debris remaining in the area, all tools, Wipe down the wall area below your installation, (using a mild soap water), and replace any decoration moved to allow for your installation. Locate sufficient supporting and install a hanging device to cover the safe face with a print, photo of interest to you.

*If the safe size requirements are such that you have chosen a safe such as the WF149 that will protrude through the back side of the wall, remember to choose a location say in a bed room, where the safe could protrude through into an adjoining closet wall (to allow concealment) of the protruding portion. Some choose a wall that might protrude over a utility room. Should you choose this as an option, make sure that if there are top loading laundry equipment below the protruding portion, that there will be sufficient clearance so as to not hinder the use of the equipment. Some choose a wall that might be adjoining to an attached garage, where the protruding portion might not affect anything. Some have a house constructed such that the protruding portion might be allowed to enter an un-used attic area. Some are designed such that the safe can be installed so that the protruding portion might protrude below a stairway (to the upstairs). 

**These are general and basic instructions. These directions are about installing a wall safe not about how to use tools safely or correctly. We are not responsible for any injury to yourself or others, any damage to your wall, your tools, or your wall safe. 

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