When it comes to providing the best safe fire protection, the right type of drywall needs to be used when building a safe. Not just any old type of sheetrock (gypsum drywall) will do. One of the biggest concerns people have when buying a gun safe is its ability to protect what is stored inside from fire. If fire protection is one of your concerns, then you need to know about the wallboard that is used in the construction of your gun safe.
Not All Drywall is Created Equal
Most drywall offers some level of fire resistance because of its gypsum core. This naturally-occurring mineral is noncombustible, which makes it ideal for use in panel-type building products.
Why is gypsum noncombustible? Because it contains water within its crystals. Almost 21 percent of gypsum’s weight is chemically combined water. And this plays a big part in its ability to act as a protective barrier against fire. When drywall is exposed to fire, the water in the gypsum slowly releases in the form of steam, which effectively works to slow heat transmission.
Even though regular drywall does offer some fire protection, Type X gypsum drywall offers even more fire protection. With a specially-reinforced core that contains glass fiber and other additives, Type X drywall is usually 5/8" thick. But more importantly, it has been tested and rated for its fire-resistance by Underwriters Laboratories. Each fire-rated board features a UL mark printed on its back.
One of the most important things to look for when purchasing a safe is to make sure that it does not contain cheap, contaminated drywall that has been manufactured in China. This drywall has been identified by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) because it is contaminated with high levels of strontium and sulfur in its core. Not only is Chinese drywall a health hazard, but it also corrodes metal, which could compromise the construction of safes in which it is used.
Multiple Layers Are Best
When comparing safes for their fire protection, you’ll want to pay attention to how thick their steel is as well as how many layers of fireboard is used throughout. The more layers of fireboard built into the walls, ceiling and door of a gun safe, the better.
For example, Liberty’s top-rated Presidential Series gun safes are rated for 2.5 hours of fire protection at 1200 degrees. These safes are constructed from 7-gauge steel and contain four layers of fireboard throughout the entire safe.
Meanwhile, an entry-level gun safe that provides 30 minutes of fire protection like the Centurion, is constructed from 14-gauge steel and features three layers of fireboard in its ceiling and door and one in its walls and door jamb.