One of the most fascinating aspects of bank construction is bank vaults. The sight of a bank vault is a daunting one for most people. While most of us will only see the bank vault door, that massive disc of thick, shiny steel with an array of knobs and levers is the embodiment of security. It’s hard to imagine that this massive door is only a section of a larger bank vault surrounded by the rest of bank construction. In this piece, we’re going to take a quick look at what’s involved in building and installing a bank vault in a commercial bank building.

Bank Vault Construction

Most bank vaults are built custom by vault manufacturers. Because different banks store different items ranging from money to valuables and documents, the bank vault is built to the bank’s specifications. Unlike iron vaults of yesteryear, most bank vaults today are made with steel-reinforced concrete walls and doors. The concrete is a special, extremely dense mixture that contains metal fragments that make it resistant to drilling. Even though bank vaults built around the middle of the 20th century could have had walls up to 18 inches thick, innovations in materials and design have allowed vault walls to built as little as 3 inches thick. Despite the walls being thinner, newer designs make these walls around 10-times stronger as their thicker predecessors. There are a few records of commercial bank vaults even withstanding a nuclear blast with their contents intact.

Bank Vault Doors

Bank vault doors also typically contain concrete that is either poured inside of the door or the shape is made from a mold and installed into a frame. Even though circular doors were the norm and still exist in many banks, they have since fallen out of favor due to door sag issues from their weight. In addition to the door, most vaults have a gate-like door designed to deter individuals from wandering into the vault while the main door is open. Most bank vault locks are combination-based and act on a timer system that keeps them from being unlocked during pre-determined times. This means that bank personnel cannot be forced to open the vaults under duress during a robbery.

“How is a bank vault installed?”

By now, you’re probably wondering how on earth this monument to security could possibly be installed inside of a bank. Well, it’s not…technically. The more accurate description of bank vault installation is bank construction around a vault. The bank vault manufacturer first delivers the bank vault and its components to the bank construction site. The manufacturer assembles the bank vault on site and the rest of the bank is built around the bank vault. Other security systems can be installed within the bank vault and lock during this time ranging from cameras to sound-detection devices.


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