Author Topic: Secure interior door/room  (Read 25087 times)

Offline JGreene

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Secure interior door/room
« on: November 05, 2010, 08:24:51 AM »
Lets just say I have a friend who has a room somewhere in his house.  It could be a walk in closet or such, lets just say its a walk in with a typical 24" interior door and a closet style door handle on it.

He wants to secure the space, burglary and fire are the two  main threats to the security of the space.  Here are my thoughts on how to secure it:

1.  The walls without the door are inaccessible from the adjoining space.  So lets assume that if the door wall is secure, the space will be.  There's no room below it and the room is dry walled on all interior walls. There are no windows.
2.  Install a plain steel door and jam, commercial grade door & Jam (would a plane residential fire rated door do just as well?)
3.  On the interior of the door wall I see two options: A) cover with 3/4 plywood screwed in place or B) remove the interior dry wall, double up all studs inbetween the existing 16" on center studs, insulate and dry wall over.

4.  For door security, have     one exterior grade knob at the normal position.  Then have a extended dead bolt about 12" from the top and bottom with key locks inside and out.

Any ideas on how to improve this?   Obviously its not full proof, but for a couple hundred dollars (2010 dollars) the space would withstand most attacks right?  Could possibly also serve as a 'panic room' if desired.

I understand that it doesn't make sense to buy an expensive door that can handle fire for 3 hours if the walls can only handle it for 1.  I want to avoid that kind of scenario.

Thanks for your input.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 10:21:23 AM »
What are you looking to be secure from or want the room to do? It's not hard to turn a closet into a big secure room, but it's not going to have the fire protection of a good safe. Your door ideas seem pretty sound - the drywall interior walls are the weak spot.

Again - depends on what level you want the room to be secure - it's not easy to build a room that is safe to be in if the rest of the house is on fire.

Offline donaldj

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2010, 11:08:05 AM »
1.  The walls without the door are inaccessible from the adjoining space.  So lets assume that if the door wall is secure, the space will be.  There's no room below it and the room is dry walled on all interior walls. There are no windows.

Let's not assume this. Drywall is easy to get through. A crowbar or baseball bat gets you through it, and most people can fit between 16 on center studs. If you want to make sure that area is safe, hang some sheet steel (with drywall over it) or decent plywood up instead of drywall.

If someone is really intent on getting in, and finds a reinforced door somewhere like you're proposing, they know they've found the Treasure Room.







Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 11:13:26 AM »
Don't forget the door hinges.  A closet door typically opens outward, so the hinge pins are on the outside.  Easy for a determined Bad Guy to just pull the pins out and remove the door.

Offline JGreene

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 01:03:05 PM »
Thanks for the input.  I'm just trying to find weak links in my 'plan'.   Risk assessment is critical.

The room is in the basement with two exterior, below grade walls.
As far as the other wall, let me just say that it is possible but difficult to get to.

I wouldn't expect to use this room IN a fire, but in the event there was one, it would give a reasonable amount of protection, for a some time (don't know how long) for non perishable supplies.  Smoke would be more difficult to isolate, but I'd probably have some kind of seal to help. (until it got hot obviously)

I want the contents to be reasonably protected.

This door opens IN, so hinges shouldn't be a problem.  Right now its just a standard interior wall with a hollow wood door.  Given the location within the home, it  shouldn't take too much to give it a nice upgrade in security.




Offline joeinwv

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 02:04:20 PM »
Sounds like a fun project. I recommend lining the walls with spanish cedar and keeping it at an even 70*F and 70% humidity. Then filling it with premium cigars.

As another idea, there are plans out there for making this type of room into an indoor root cellar - basically you need an out vent high on the wall and an in vent that is piped down to the floor - convection keeps it cool and you insulate to keep it separate from house heat.

I think you are on the right track - the goal being to end with a room that looks like you just boxed in some utilities in the basement. I would go with the double studs and look at beefing up the walls - double layer of 5/8" drywall or even use concrete board, which is moisture resistant and good for the basement.

Offline JGreene

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2010, 07:05:15 AM »
I'm... my friend is lucky, the basement is dry (as long as he keeps his gutters clean...gessh)  Its always cool and dark 90% of the time.  Good place for food storage.  I'm reluctant to ventilate, here in PA, what happens is in the humid summers, the outside air gets to the basement and condenses into dampness.  This particular room is already isolated by a couple doors, so I'm going to keep it that way.

On a side project, and probably is true for many of us, is to install permanent backup lighting in the basement.  Several reasons, one being that's where the power panel and utilities are down there.  Plus, being a finished basement several of the rooms will be dark even during the day.  So when I go down there to either transfer to the generator, reset a breaker, or hook up the generator it would be nice to have lighting in place.   Just a thought.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2010, 09:08:07 AM »
I assume the GE nightlight / flashlight combos don't count as "permanent backup lighting" in my basement. That's a great point - if you come up with a cheap / simple solution definitely post it up. I assume you are thinking something like you see in commercial buildings that come on when power goes off...

Offline JGreene

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2010, 10:28:19 AM »
I haven't had any luck with the battery operated "touch to light" globes, and flashlights - to my amazement - grow legs. :)  I'm thinking of a simple starter solar project.  OR a plug in wet cell/charger config similar to the commercial models but DIY.

Offline Dawgus

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2010, 04:09:17 PM »
 Lets just say I have a friend with a similar room.... ;D

  The walls are built from 2x4's, 12" on center, with a layer of steel mesh before the drywall.Then the  walls and ceiling are double layer 5/8 drywall to give it a 2 hour fire rating, and covered with cheap paneling to appear no different than a typical older basement room. (on the outside)  The narrow wall at the entry is concrete block with vertical rebar and filled with cement, and a steel fireproof door with deadbolt and cross-type barracade on the inside. The door has the face of a cheap hollow door glued to the outside, to again appear like an inexpensive finished basement room. There are 2 vents to the outside, one fitted with a bathroom fan, and another with a battery operated tent ceiling fan mounted backwards. (I'll just assume he thought of that in case there is no d/c power available)

 I'd like to see this room someday. I've heard a lot about it.  :D

Offline PAGUY

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2010, 04:25:11 PM »
Maybe I missed it but, your friend might want to look at the ceiling of this room.  That is one thing that I did not see mentioned.  All of the upgrades to the room sound great.  If no upgrades have been made to the ceiling of the room it would not be too difficult to penetrate with easily found items in your house.  Dawgus it sounds like the friends room that you know about is in pretty good shape as well. 

Offline JGreene

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2010, 07:20:59 AM »
The ceiling is drywall as well.  Above that is typical joists, insulation, subfloor and carpet.   If they're willing to go THAT route, they can have it!

Still checking out the alternative ways to access the room.  There are other ways, but they'd have to spend some time looking and busting through walls.  Not very difficult actually, IF they have the time to do so. 

Priced out an exterior grade plain steel door at HD for $116.  I wanted to price the wire screening used as a base for stucko.  It appears pretty heavy.  If this was stapled (2" staples, pneumatic gun) as a layer I'd think that would also be affective.   Plywood was anywhere from $10 to $25 a sheet depending on the type and finish. 

Offline Dawgus

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2010, 07:59:16 AM »
Rayh- If you have a Habitat for Humanity store nearby, check there for steel doors. I picked up two there (still NIB) for the same price I would have paid for one at HD or Lowes.

Offline daved

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2010, 06:48:46 AM »
One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet - even if it is somewhat fire resistant, what about water? If there is a house fire, the local fire department will probably be pumping rather large amounts of water into your friend's house. Since this room is located in a basement I would think that's probably where all that water is going to end up. I don't have a suggestion for solving this other than maybe being more biased towards physical security than fire resistance when building said room.

Offline P_Coltrane

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2010, 07:05:01 AM »
Good locksets, strike plates and jambs are important considerations as well. 

« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 07:12:33 AM by P_Coltrane »

HumeMan

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2010, 04:44:23 PM »
He wants to secure the space, burglary and fire are the two  main threats to the security of the space.  Here are my thoughts on how to secure it:

I assume when talking about fire safety, you are talking about protecting your posessions inside; not people. 

But incase you are, please for the safety of your family, DO NOT use this room as any kind of fire/smoke protection.  You are building a family size coffin.

Creating a safe room, for protection from burglars and thieves however, is a great idea.  I will provide some ideas about that in a later post.


Risks associated with using this room for human fire/smoke protection:

1.  Smoke inhalation.  You would need to create positive air pressure.  Maintaining positive air pressure will prevent smoke from entering the room.  However you need to put thought into where your air is coming from.  If you have a vent pipe near the house, it could get damaged by emergency vehicles, covered up by snow, or destroyed by a collapsing house.  Once the vent is run far enough away from the house, you need to worry about sucking in all the smoke from your yard.  You would need a filter capable of handling smoke, and the gasses associated with it.

2.  Structural failue of the house.  Unless you are building the safe room out of concrete and steel beams, a collapsing house is more than sufficient to destroy your room.  Imagine your house burning to the ground with you and the family inside the room.  If it was strong enough to withstand a house collapse, how long could you sit room sit in a basement full of red hot coals?  Even when using fire-rated materials, there is a limit to how long they can withstand the heat.
 
3.  Protection from water.  When the fire dept starts hosing down the fire, your basement is going to start filling up with water.  I doubt that the trucks could fill the basement (and your room) with enough water that you might driwn.  But it is a possibility to take into consideration.  Another issue with water in your safe room is an electrical one.  Nobody wants to be standing in a puddle that could be touching a live electrical source.  Water flowing down and over a breaker panel, then into your room, or water deep enough to touch electrical outlets could electrocute you.

HumeMan

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2010, 05:28:22 PM »
Interesting ballistics testing with a standard residential metal door.

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot17.htm

Offline JGreene

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2010, 08:20:27 PM »
Yes, definitely NOT for protection from fire.  Not really from bullets either.  The two biggest threats would be burglary or fire.  Under normal circumstances, not a TEOTWAWKI.  Our fire department is volunteer, but they have a pretty good response time... we've tested it before.  :-[




Offline JGreene

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2010, 06:41:07 PM »
I'm actually working on the project now.  I decided to take a different slant to it.  There is a room inside another room. I'm taking on a camouflage technique instead of trying to make it indestructible.  I'll still have a good amount of space for storage, and I doubt anyone would ever notice the entrance.

The second phase of this will be a remote lock of some kind.  I like magnetic, other than it would need to be energized all the time.  The other, perhaps better, idea is to have it spring loaded locked with a remote cable or rotary actuator.

I even thought of using an old PC power supply for the 12 volts and use the fan to provide a small amount of ventilation through the room.

Offline boboroshi

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2010, 07:12:16 PM »
I wouldn't expect to use this room IN a fire, but in the event there was one, it would give a reasonable amount of protection, for a some time (don't know how long) for non perishable supplies.  Smoke would be more difficult to isolate, but I'd probably have some kind of seal to help. (until it got hot obviously)

I want the contents to be reasonably protected.

Well, first off, start looking at fire stairs for ideas. These have a fire rating of a few hours and will maintain structural stability even through a decent blaze. The one thing you will not find in any of them is flammable materials, specifically wood. You're talking CMUs and concrete with steel rebar.

A hot enough fire will blast right through any drywall and stud setup, even metal C-studs. Get hot enough and even without direct access to the fire, you're going to have materials off gassing (drywall) and could catch on the inside of the space just from heat transfer through a non-flammable material.

HumeMan covered most of these issues in his reply. You might also consider sprinklers or halide fire-suppression systems (for non occupied spaces)

I would check out Joel Skousken's book "The Secure Home" or more specifically to your needs "Implement a High Security Shelter in your home" (http://www.amazon.com/Implement-High-Security-Shelter-Home/dp/1568610548)

Regardless, any determined or well equipped enough adversary will be able to defeat almost anything you can afford or legally build. Obfuscation is your best bet. Hide the door behind a bookshelf that doesn't look out of place. Match walls to existing basement materials, etc.

Offline ore2u

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2011, 11:59:47 PM »
concealment is the key for theft. I know some one who had a concrete basement. It was square short of this little 6x6 closet in the corner that looked stupid. With my assistance we continued the wall the entire length of the room in 2x4's (interior wall) moved the door to a little left of center. After the studs were up we put up 1/2 plywood over all of it and then 2 sheets of 5/8 sheet rock. On the inside of the wall we installed sheets of expanded steel. I strongly suggest this step. It is really easy to work with if you have a die grinder. You sure as heck are not going to kick through it, even if they did find it. 2 more sheets of drywall on the inside. You know have a 4 hour fire barrier. As for the door......look at safe doors. The project that I am speaking of used a safe door that was custom build without a combo lock. The lock was made by a company named Abiloy (I think). After the room was completed two book cases were built one of them was attached to the safe door. A big screen was placed next to it and then the other book case next to that. When you enter the basement you dont even know that their is a false wall. If you happened to find safe door......good luck!!! And it would take a Long time to get through the wall.
 The most important thing to remember is concealment. My dads home has been robbed 2 times in my life, once when I was a child and again 3 years ago while we were hunting. Both times my father was away from home for a week or better. Neither time did they ever try to open his gun safe. He also has more silver and gold than most people. At the time of the last break in there was the gold silver and around $2500 in cash not locked in a safe but hidden in card board tube slid into a presto log wrapper next to a fireplace that doesn't get used any more along with 2 real presto logs.
 I also want to warn people on this site and others. I hate to think of it but I am sure that BG's check out sites like these. They might even buy something from you just to start talking to you about what kind of stuff you have, follow you home (or have their partner in another car do it) The only reason I mentioned the presto log is because it is no longer being used as a secret cache. But people mention their hiding spots on here all the time.

Just my advice and 2 cents for what it is worth.

Offline travaler

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Re: Secure interior door/room
« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2011, 11:30:20 AM »
If you’re going to use this room to hide in case of a fire DON’T! IT’S A DEATH TRAP! Number 1, A room that small would run out of oxygen in a very short time, keep in mind the fire is taking O2 also.
 Number 2, If it’s in the basement ALL of the water from the fire fighting will go there and if the house is fully engulfed all the debris will fall into the basement also, ether on you, through the ceiling or around the door possibly trapping you in there.
If you want a fire proof room to store items, form the two walls that aren’t exterior with concrete or the outside and inside (of the studs) with fire grade wallboard double layer with rock wool between, and a 3 hour fire door, also don’t forget to line the ceiling with fire rated double thick wall board with rock wool above that, also you’ll will need to replace the floor joists above the room with steel instead of wood. If you want it to just hide or conceal items from prying eyes then the best room is one that isn’t seen or appear to be there, I. E. a canceled room with a hidden door.