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Thread: How heavy of a safe will my condo take?

  1. #1
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    How heavy of a safe will my condo take?

    Time for a safe upgrade. I would like to upgrade the safe to a nice fire rated model and bigger than the one I currently have. The current is 21" X 16" x 59" and it is overflowing. I want to get a bigger safe, with a good fire rating, maybe an hour in a fire.

    I live in a condo with a standard wood structure. I am concerned about how heavy of a safe will my unreinforced floor will hold. Also, there is the issue of so many choices out there. So many brands and so many specifications. Which ones to choose.
    Because of their tremendous reputation, the soldiers of the old guard were permitted liberties which would not have been tolerated in other units. When Napoleon met Tsar Alexander of Russia at Tilsit in 1807 he pointed to a terribly scarred Grenadier. "What do you think of men who can endure such wounds?" he asked. " and what do you think of men who can inflict them?" replied the Tsar. "They're all dead!" interjected the Grenadier, settling the issue once and for all.

  2. #2
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    It's good that you are thinking about weight. I suspect you should give a structural engineer a call though.
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  3. #3
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    Calling an engineer is a good choice.

    Our general rule of thumb is 1,000 pounds, without reinforced floors, against a load bearing wall if possible.
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  4. #4
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    Cool. I had a similar concern. Have a 600lb safe on order, and was a little worried. It'll be up against an exterior wall, and there's a perpendicular wall underneath the floor, so it sounds like I'll have enough support.
    -Lee
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  5. #5
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    Many times the wood floor, if you are upstairs has poured light concrete on it, so that helps stop noise going to the down stairs. That should help with the strength also.

    Most of your floors are not rated that heavy per square foot, but what you have mentioned it sounds strong.

    The big thing is to lay some good boards down for rolling across when delivered. Stairs have a way of being ruined also.

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    Last edited by Harley Quinn; December 21st, 2008 at 01:02 PM.

  6. #6
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    It really depends on the construction method used in your part of the world.

    Is the floor manufactured joists or simple 2x construction or concrete?
    The spacing of the joists (if present) is important too.

    Can you pull the carpet back and see the floor, the method of attachment and the spacing of the fasteners?
    (That will give a clue on the joist spacing...the rows of fastener heads 12", 16" or 24" apart)

    Some creative measuring can give you the depth of the joists too.

    Keep in mind that even though there may be a wall below, that wall may NOT be a bearing wall, it may be a simple partition and not built to carry any loads from above.

    The exterior wall construction must be considered too.

    If the structure is wood framed with the second floor joists resting on the top plate of the first floor walls then the second floor walls built on top of the floor joists you have a comletely different set of considerations than a structure with the floor joists resting on a 1.5" ledger....the same with a lightweight concrete floor system.

    Calling in an engineer, or a GOOD contractor to investigate is a must.

    You can check with your municipality and see if they have the plans on file that were submitted for the building permit. If they have the plans, get a copy and have them available for your engineer or contractor to help in controlling the cost of his investigation.

    Remember to not only consider the weight of the safe (dry weight), but the weight of the contents too.
    Multiply the "Dry weight" x 1.5 and the contents by 2 to be safe.
    Keep the method of attachment in mind (if anchoring to floor) too, and make sure you discuss with the engineer since that also affects the supporting surface strength.

    I hope this helps.
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    Depending on age of your building you could also have steel or aluminum floor joists like I did in my Condo back in the late 70's early 80's when they were building fast and cheap. I also had aluminum wiring on half my circuits and copper on the rest, that was a nightmare to correct. How many stories does your building have? Is one floor resting on the floor plate of the floor beneath it or did they make a shell and rest each floor on a 1 1/2" ridge. If you are unsure I would consider another safe the same size as the one you have placed at a distance from the first one just to spread the load out. You'll probably be fine because they obviously take into account appliances, furniture and occupation load but you are putting a lot of heavy in one spot.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

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    Go to your building department and ask them.

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    Condos were recently built in my town. They started at 850K and were not built that great. The floor joists were 24 inches on center so be careless lest your safe wind up in another occupants room.

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    The best thought, is to contact the building dept and go from there... Does seem like the most sensible, considering all that has been mentioned.

    If you are renting, it is another item also, you would have to contact the owners (admin) and make sure it was all right to do what you are planning.

    Similar to a water bed on the top floor


  11. #11
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    I think most wooden residential floors are designed for a MINIMUM live load of 40 psf for the whole floor. Concentrated and dead loads are different. However, barring rot, cracks, defects, etc., the floor should support such a localized load in the range of several hundred psf. Now a "standard" safe of 32" x 36" represents an 8 sf footprint. If the safe weighs 800#, that equals 100 psf, a load I think would be easily supported.

    Some considerations:

    Figure the LOADED weight of the safe.

    Put a fairly thick plywood square under the safe that is several inches larger than the safe. In the above example, a square only 2" larger in every direction would bring the load down to 80 psf. Also, if you have carpet, this helps keep the safe from burying itself in the carpet and pad.

    See what's under the floor at that location. Reinforcement of the spot may be easy. I once used a $20 house jack to add insurance for a safe load. Also, place the safe over TWO floor joists, never just one.

    Any stairs, thresholds, etc., may be far weaker than your floor.
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  12. #12
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    What is under the location on the safe? Is this above the ground floor? Can you locate the safe on the ground floor? You may be able to put jacks under it.

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    I was wondering the same thing about putting my current safe in a "manufactured home".

    I own a manufactured home in a rural town that I used to live in. I am now thinking seriously about downsizing and moving back into it for my last three years before retirement. When I lived there before I had a moderate sized gun safe in the spare bedroom and never had any issues with it. When I moved I sold that safe and bought the biggest safe the dealer had. It is 72" tall, 56" wide, and 29" deep. It is filled to the brim with guns and knives. I have no idea what that weighs but I know it must be real heavy.

    I presently live in a single story tract home, so the safe is sitting on the concrete pad. When I move back to that manufactured home, I don't really have anywhere to put the safe other than in the house. I will eventually have a garage but I don't at present. I would really like to keep my guns in the house but I don't know if the floor can take it.

    If that safe went through the floor, wouldn't that be a hell of a problem.
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  14. #14
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    Yes to put it "mildly" would be a problem...

    That is a huge safe, need a qualified mover, like ones that do Pianos If you can get underneath the floor and it is ground you could beef it up ok...Put some concrete and piers and some structure...I could help with a design, I have been in construction since I was a pup...Now 67
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  15. #15
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    You should have seen the guy put it in my house.

    I have a very sloped driveway. He took it out of the truck, over the threshold of the front door, around a couple 90 degree turns, into the man cave. I had a closet with two sliding glass doors. I removed the doors and he slid the safe right into the closet opening. It fits like a glove with just a few inches between the safe and the wall.
    AND HE DID IT BY HIMSELF

    I am going to call the same guy to move it again.
    I can get underneath the floor. I would appreciate any words of wisdom you could pass my way.

    "This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you'll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we're here for something new. I don't... this hasn't happened much in the history of the world. We're an army going out to set other men free."

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    I was able to stick my head up into an access panel to see what was under the floor where I want to put my safe.

    Basically, there are 2x4 trusses running parallel to the exterior wall (and, therefore, the front of the safe) that the safe is going up against. The trusses are cross braced (mostly, where there's no ductwork running through), and are ~18" apart. There's a plywood floor w/ wood tongue in groove flooring glued down on top of that (perpendicular to the face of the safe).

    Therefore, the back of the safe will be up against an exterior wall, and the safe is 25" deep, so the front ~1/3 of the safe will extend out over one of the trusses. I also had a platform added to the order to protect the floor, but didn't realize the added weight-distribution benefit.

    I recently had a whirlpool tub installed, and the weight of that, 50+ gallons of water, and a body in it have to be over 600lbs, and the contractor didn't have any concerns with the weight on the floor, so I'm thinking a little more for the safe should be OK, though maybe I'll keep my ammo in another area.

    Thanks for the tips!
    -Lee
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  17. #17
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    That is a huge safe, need a qualified mover, like ones that do Pianos
    Or a real safe company. I don't know many piano movers that can move the things I move.
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  18. #18
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    Bump
    "This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you'll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we're here for something new. I don't... this hasn't happened much in the history of the world. We're an army going out to set other men free."

  19. #19
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    for 16" on center 2x8 construction i think you have a design load of 100 psf. in the bathtub example you are ok because the load is distributed. if you lay the safe flat or buy one of those amsec chest zafes you should be ok. if you want to stand one up do the math and take some of the precautions suggested if it is close.

  20. #20
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    I would NOT trust a floor on 2x4 joists for this. I was thinking 2x8s. Also, the hot tub is likely quite a bit less load than a safe, as it probably has a much larger footprint, so it may not be a good comparison. Don't forget that if your floor is very questionable (like the mobile home), you may need to consider all the floor you will be moving it across, not just the spot where it will end up. Then think about the 3 big guys crowding around it moving it and the 600-800 extra pounds they represent....
    Another plywood trick is to get a few extra sheets and make a "track" to move it on through your house, picking up and putting down pieces as needed. That keeps it from sinking into the carpet or damaging the floor and spreads out the load. I've found that a plywood runway covered with pasteboard is great for sliding a safe, using a second piece of pasteboard under the safe so the two pieces of pasteboard slide on themselves.
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  21. #21
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    One other li'l trick - golf balls. Ya know how carpet bunches up when you roll a dolly across it? It won't with golf balls - and I moved my 1800-lb Ft. Knox by myself with 'em.

    Again, though - if yer goin' across floor joists, be careful - but if you use the plywood sheathing as suggested above, it will give you less psf load than a dolly.

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