Logo

How to install a hidden wall safe

PUBLISHED: 09:40 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:44 22 November 2017

There are so many different safes to choose from, including ones that are fire and water-resistant

There are so many different safes to choose from, including ones that are fire and water-resistant

Philip Toscano/PA Photos

A discreet safe to keep valuables protected isn’t just something for the rich and famous to consider. Richard Burr reveals how to fit one

This guide shows how to install a safe in a brick wall, although stud wall mounted safes are also availableThis guide shows how to install a safe in a brick wall, although stud wall mounted safes are also available

Do you own things? Valuable things? Maybe a passport or two? A bit of cash? Some jewellery? Want to keep hold of them when you’re not home? Then this is the job for you.

Wall safes are easy to install and with a picture over the front of them, they are nearly impossible to spot, too.

This guide shows how to install a safe in a brick wall, although stud wall mounted safes are also available.

A discreet safe to keep valuables protected isn't just something for the rich and famous to considerA discreet safe to keep valuables protected isn't just something for the rich and famous to consider

Do you have a suitable wall?

If you have a house with a disused fireplace, that’s the perfect place for a wall safe, as there will be a hollow void behind the chimney breast. If you don’t have a chimney breast to use, there are all sorts of other safes - under-floorboard safes, ones to bolt to the wall, fitted into stud walls - but this guide is for your classic, ‘picture on a hinge to reveal the safe underneath’ safe, to make you feel a bit like a mafia boss. Even if the USB stick inside just has back-ups of family photos, rather than the nuclear codes that James Bond is looking for.

You're probably going to cover the safe with a picture, so it doesn't need to be perfect underneathYou're probably going to cover the safe with a picture, so it doesn't need to be perfect underneath

Which safe should you choose?

There are so many different safes to choose from, including ones that are fire and water-resistant, though these are considerably more expensive. Many safes are guaranteed up to a particular value of cash or goods too, which will be indicated when you buy it. Safes will also indicate how many bricks need to be removed. You can decide for yourself whether you want a key or a combination safe too. I prefer a key safe, as they’re often used so rarely you (well, I) can forget the combination code. I opted for the Burg Wachter Point Wall Safe from Safe.co.uk, which is just over £100.

Making the hole

Wall safes are easy to install and with a picture over the front of them, they are nearly impossible to spot, tooWall safes are easy to install and with a picture over the front of them, they are nearly impossible to spot, too

Mark roughly where the safe is going and chip off some plaster until you reach the brick surface behind it. Most wall safes are designed to fit standard brick sizes, so once you’ve found the dimensions of one brick, you can work out where your safe outline will be.

You then need to do a technique called ‘stitch drilling’. Bricks are always laid in a formation known as a bond. Exactly how you build a Lego structure, this is where you lay a row (course) of bricks and then the course on top overlaps the joints. This is called ‘half bond’ and it’s the type of bricklaying you’re most likely to come across. To fit a three-brick safe, you’ll need to remove a whole brick and the whole brick two courses below, but in between, you need to remove two half bricks. To do this, you need an electric drill and a masonry bit for the ‘stitch drilling’.

Set your drill to hammer setting and drill four vertical holes through the centres of the middle two bricks, along the line of the bricks above and below. Work hard to make sure you’re drilling into these straight and level. When you’ve drilled into both middle bricks, use a heavy hammer and a bolster to break the bricks in half along the line where you’ve drilled the holes. Use your drill bit to buzz through the mortar joints on the top and bottom bricks, and you should be able to pull each of the bricks out.

Fitting the safe

Place the safe in the hole you have made and check it’s level using a spirit level - you may have to wedge a corner up with a some folded up card. When you’re fitting a safe into a wall, rather than drilling and screwing it into place, you can set it with ready-mixed concrete available cheaply from stores like B&Q, but avoid the quick-setting stuff.

Wedge your safe into the hole and sit it on two small wooden blocks or pieces of cardboard. Wedge the sides too, so there are small gaps all around the safe. Mix your concrete in the tub, but you’ll need two things to apply it - a plastering hawk (or a square of wood if you don’t want to get one of these) and a pointing trowel.

Dollop your concrete onto your hawk and chop it with your trowel. Gradually poke small amounts of the concrete into the cavity all around your safe, using your trowel to smooth it down. Check with your spirit level that the safe and the cement are flush with the wall and leave it to set overnight.

Finishing the job

The main thing to remember when it comes to finishing off the job, is that you’re probably going to cover the safe with a picture, so it doesn’t need to be perfect underneath. But where your plaster has been chipped away, fill this in with multi-purpose Polyfilla and when dry, paint this the same colour as your wall. You can then hang a picture over the safe or, if you’re feeling like a real gangster, attach the picture to the wall with a hinge and a magnetic catch for extra drama. Now, forget I said any of this and don’t go looking behind any of the pictures in my house, capeesh?

Property search


e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

Wasps: a total nuisance or horticultural hero?

They may be the biggest nuisance at summer barbecues, but wasps are also of great benefit to the garden - but how so? A top entomologist reveals all

Seven ways to make sure your dahlias dazzle this summer

As dahlia societies nationwide stage their annual shows this month, expert Katie Kingett offers seven tips to success with these late summer showstoppers

Rug designer Sonya Winner, opens showroom in Dartmouth Park

Emma Rice talks to rug designer Sonya Winner about her passion for colour and her new inspirational showroom in Dartmouth Park

Inside the St John’s Wood home of interior designer, Brian Woulfe

This elegant apartment in St John’s Wood has been carefully curated by interior designer and former concert pianist, Brian Woulfe

House price gap between London and regional cities set to narrow over next two years

The property price gap between London and other cities around the UK is predicted to narrow in the next two years according to figures published by Hometrack

Tom Dixon kicks off series of architecture and design events in Kings Cross

Architecture and design discussion group New London Architecture will be hosting a series of dinners at Spiritland in Kings Cross this summer, starting with an event featuring renowned furniture, lighting and home accessory designer Tom Dixon, on Thursday, July 26.

‘The means of production are changing’ - designer Tom Dixon looks to the future

Tom Dixon, designer of iconic modernist furniture and lighting, has moved his business to a new Kings Cross HQ. Here he talks about what he learned working in the music industry, moving to the epicentre of London’s future industries and finding new creative ‘obsessions’.

New Middle Eastern antiques department opens at Alfies in Lisson Grove

One of London’s last remaining indoor antique markets, Alfies, on Church Street, has launched a dedicated Middle Eastern art, antiques and design department, spanning two floors and more than 4,000 square feet.

Eight ways to get your kids into the garden this summer

As the school holidays beckon, designer Ann-Marie Powell

shares top tips with Hannah Stephen for getting youngsters outdoors

Looking after your lawn: three essential tools

Love your lawn? So, get the right tools to help you maintain it in summer. Hannah Stephenson selects three essentials to make the job easier.

David Walliams is selling Noel Gallagher’s former Belsize Park home

Britain’s Got Talent judge and author David Walliams is selling his Hampstead home for 5.35million with Marcus Parfitt.

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


2018 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant