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Gauge of Steel: What does it mean?

When it comes to securing our valuable possessions, nothing holds more significance than the safes and vaults we trust to protect them. Safes and vaults are built to withstand physical attacks, fires, and other threats. But have you ever considered what gives them this robust strength? One crucial element lies in the gauge of steel used in their construction.

Understanding the gauge of steel is vital as it directly impacts the quality, durability, and security of the safe or vault. However, if you're new to the world of safes and vaults, you might find yourself wondering, "what does steel gauge mean?". If that's the case, don't worry. In this article, we'll break down everything you need to know about steel gauge, its relevance in safes and vaults, and how to choose the right one for your specific needs.

Understanding the Basics

The term "gauge" in steel gauge refers to the measurement of the steel's thickness, a measure which is vital in determining its strength and durability. The concept of steel gauge has been around for centuries, originating from the number of times steel had to be processed to reach a certain thickness.

Steel gauge is typically measured in numbers, ranging from about 3 to 30 in the United States. Interestingly, the metal gauge number is inversely proportional to the steel's thickness – the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel. This metric might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but it's a standard that has been used in the industry for many years.

In the next section, we will discuss how the gauge of steel is used specifically in the context of safes and vaults. Stay tuned!

Gauge of Steel in Safes and Vaults

The gauge of steel plays a crucial role in the overall strength and resilience of safes and vaults. Different types of safes and vaults are typically built using various steel gauges, depending on the level of security and durability required.

For instance, standard home safes usually use steel ranging from 14 to 16 gauge. Such safes are designed to keep your valuables secure and offer adequate protection for typical residential use. On the other hand, commercial-grade safes and vaults, which are designed to protect high-value items such as cash, jewelry, and important documents, often utilize much thicker steel, sometimes as low as 3 to 7 gauge. This heavier gauge steel is considerably more resistant to attempts at forced entry, offering a higher level of security.

But the role of steel gauge goes beyond just resisting physical attacks. It also significantly impacts the fire-resistance of a safe. A safe made of a thicker gauge of steel can resist higher temperatures and maintain a safe internal temperature for a longer period, thus offering superior protection to your valuables in case of a fire.

From the cost perspective, as the gauge number of sheet metal goes down, indicating thicker steel, the cost of the safe or vault generally goes up. This is due to the increased material use and the enhanced protection that a lower sheet metal gauge chart a safe or vault provides. It's a balance of investment versus security.

Understanding the role of steel gauge in safes and vaults is vital in determining the right product for your needs. In the next section, we will delve deeper into why steel gauge matters and how it influences the effectiveness of your safe or vault.

Why Does Steel Gauge Matter?

The gauge of steel is an essential factor to consider when evaluating safes and vaults, as it directly impacts the unit's resistance to various threats and its overall longevity. Let's delve into a few reasons why steel and gauge size matters:

  1. Resistance to physical attacks: Thicker steel (i.e., a lower gauge) provides more substantial resistance against physical attacks. Drilling, sawing, and smashing are common methods used in forced-entry attempts. A safe or vault made with lower gauge steel is more likely to withstand these attacks and keep the contents safe.

  2. Fire resistance: Fire can be as damaging to valuables as theft. The thickness of steel used in a safe or vault plays a significant role in determining the unit's ability to withstand high temperatures. Thicker steel can resist high temperatures for a longer period, maintaining a safe internal temperature and thus preserving the contents of the safe or vault.

  3. Durability: Safes and vaults made with thicker steel tend to be more durable and longer-lasting. They are better suited to withstand wear and tear over time, giving you a reliable security solution for many years.

In addition to these factors, the gauge of steel also influences the safe's weight. Generally, safes and vaults made from thicker steel are heavier, which can be both a pro and a con. On one hand, the increased weight makes the safe more difficult to move, providing an additional layer of security against theft. On the other hand, it may present challenges in terms of installation and placement.

The next section will guide you through the process of decoding steel gauge numbers, helping you make sense of this critical factor when choosing the best safe or vault for your needs.

Decoding Steel Gauge Numbers

Now that we've explored why steel gauge matters, it's time to decipher what actual thickness values of the various gauge numbers mean in terms of actual thickness. Remember, in the context of steel gauge, a lower number denotes thicker steel, and a higher number indicates a thinner sheet of steel. Let's take a look at some common steel gauge numbers and their corresponding thicknesses:


Steel thickness is measured in millimeters (mm) or thousandths of an inch (gauge) and determines the strength of the safe's walls, door, and hinges. A thicker steel provides more protection and resistance to tampering and forced entry.

The gauge is a standardized measurement of the thickness of steel sheets and is inversely proportional to the thickness of the steel. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel.

For example, 10-gauge steel is thicker than 12-gauge steel.

gun safe gauage steel measurement chart

How Thick is the Gauge of Steel?

The gauge of steel refers to its thickness. A lower gauge number indicates thicker steel. For example, 7-gauge steel is thicker than 14-gauge steel.

Here is a table of the different gauges of steel and their thicknesses:

  • 7 Gauge 3/16" thick steel
  • 8 Gauge 11/64" thick steel
  • 9 Gauge 5/32" thick steel
  • 10 Gauge 9/64" thick steel
  • 12 Gauge 7/64" thick steel
  • 14 Gauge 5/64" thick steel

A safe with thicker steel will be more difficult to break into, both physically and through drilling. It will also be more resistant to fire.

When choosing a safe, it is important to consider the gauge of steel and other factors such as the locking mechanism and fire resistance.

If you need a high-security safe, you should choose a safe with thick gauge steel and a good locking mechanism. If you are on a budget, you may be able to find a safe with thinner gauge steel that is still secure enough for your needs.

Here are some tips for choosing a safe:

  • Consider your security needs. How much valuables do you need to store? How likely is it that your safe will be targeted by a burglar?
  • Consider your budget. Safes can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
  • Read reviews. Read online reviews of different safes to get an idea of their quality and security.
  • Ask for advice. If you are not sure what type of safe is right for you, ask for advice from a security professional.

By following these tips, you can choose a safe that will protect your valuables.

Understanding these measurements can give you a clearer idea of the level of security and protection offered by different safes and vaults. However, remember that the gauge of steel is just one aspect to consider when choosing a safe or vault. Other factors, such as the locking mechanism, the construction of the door and frame, and fireproofing measures, also play significant roles in determining the overall security of a safe.

In the following section, we will provide an example for you with guidance on how to choose the right steel wire gauge for your needs, considering both your security requirements and budget.

Choosing the Right Gauge for Your Needs

Selecting the right steel gauge for your safe or vault comes down to balancing your specific needs with the available options. Here's how you can determine which sheet steel gauge is most suitable for you:

  1. Assess your security needs: Consider the types of items you plan to store in the safe. If they are high-value or extremely sensitive items, you might need a safe with thicker steel, i.e., a lower gauge. For less valuable or sensitive items, a higher gauge may suffice.

  2. Consider your budget: Safes and vaults made from lower gauge (thicker) steel tend to be more expensive due to the increased material use and enhanced protection they provide. Determine your budget upfront and choose the best gauge that fits within that budget without compromising your essential security needs.

  3. Think about the location and installation: Heavier safes, often made with lower gauge steel, might require special considerations for delivery and installation. Make sure to factor in these logistical aspects when choosing your safe.

  4. Factor in fire protection: If fire resistance is a priority for you, consider a safe or vault with a lower gauge of steel. Remember, thicker steel can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods.

  5. Consult with professionals: If you are unsure, it's always a good idea to consult with professionals. They can provide expert advice tailored to your specific circumstances and needs.

Choosing the right gauge of steel is a crucial step towards securing your valuable possessions effectively. But it doesn't end here. You may still have questions about steel gauges or the specifics of safes and vaults. In the next section, we will answer some frequently asked questions that might help clarify any remaining queries.

Frequently Asked Questions

When discussing steel gauge and its impact on the safes and vaults' effectiveness, a few questions commonly come up. Here, we'll address some of those to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Q1: Why do lower gauge numbers signify thicker steel?

A1: The gauge system dates back to the times when steel sheets were created by hammering them to the desired thickness. The number of hammering cycles determined the galvanized steel sheet and gauge number—fewer cycles resulted in thicker sheets, hence lower gauge numbers signify thicker steel.

Q2: Does a safe with a lower gauge, thicker sheet of steel always provide better security?

A2: While it's true that a lower gauge of steel or aluminum (thicker) can provide better protection against physical attacks and fires, the overall security of a safe or vault depends on other factors as well. These include the quality of the lock, the design of the door and frame, and any additional security features the safe or vault may have.

Q3: Is steel gauge the only thing I should consider when buying a safe or vault?

A3: No, steel gauge is just one of many factors to consider. Other important factors include the type of lock, the number of locking bolts, fire resistance rating, size of the safe, and of course, the price.

Q4: Can I custom order a safe with a specific stainless steel side gauge?

A4: Many manufacturers and sellers offer customization options, allowing you to specify the thickness chart gauge of steel you want for your safe or vault. It's best to reach out directly to the manufacturer or the retailer to discuss your project, specific needs and available options.

Understanding the steel gauge and its impact on the quality and performance of safes and vaults is crucial when making a purchase. In the next section, we'll wrap up with a few concluding thoughts on this topic.


Understanding the gauge material thickness of steel used in the construction of safes and vaults is an essential aspect of your purchasing decision. The thickness of the steel directly impacts the security, durability, and fire resistance of the safe, making it a crucial factor to consider based on your specific needs.

Remember, a lower gauge number signifies thicker steel, providing greater protection against physical attacks and fires but potentially coming with a higher price tag and additional weight. Balancing these factors with your budget and security requirements will help you choose the right safe or vault.

Also, keep in mind that while steel gauge is a critical element, it's not the only one to consider when buying a safe or vault. Aspects like the locking mechanism, size, fireproof rating, and even the customer support offered by the manufacturer also come into play.

In the final analysis, a metal gauge in your safe or vault is an investment in the protection of your valuable items. Ensuring you're well-informed about the role of steel gauge in that protection will allow you to make the best possible decision.

If you have further questions about steel gauge or other aspects of safes and vaults, please don't hesitate to reach out to our customer support team. They are always ready to help guide you through your purchasing process.

Why not start exploring now? Browse through our extensive range of safes and vaults across various steel gauges and find the perfect match for your security needs. Your peace of mind is our top priority.

Got questions about anything or just want to comment on anything? Let us know!

Everlasting Safes can help you make an informed decision about finding the best product for your needs. If you have any further questions or concerns before making a purchase, please contact us through email at or call us at any time at 1-800-683-6623.

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