We are frequently asked whether it is best to install a safe flat on the floor or to raise it up off the floor to provide air circulation. Since each method involves trade-offs, the “Best” method depends on your situation and your primary concern.
If security is the only issue the safe should be flat on the floor, bolted down. But won’t that cause rust and stain the floor if there is no air circulation? Very possibly, depending on the type of floor and how well the bottom of the safe is primed or painted. Most residential safes are primed, but some companies do a poor job of it. Sliding the safe across rough surfaces will scrape off primer, making rust more likely. The primer itself may stain. So just make the assumption that the floor will get stained. Then decide whether the potential of burglars removing your safe is more important than the risk of a discolored floor.
If the safe is going into a basement which has a history of water problems, I recommend elevating it on 4” x 4” or 4” x 6” wood. Putting the safe on concrete blocks will lift it even higher. These arrangements will be functional but they won’t look great. IMPORTANT: When elevating a safe make sure it is supported right out to the front edge or the safe may fall forward when the door is opened! This is especially true with tall units like gun safes. Note that raising the safe makes bolting it down pointless — the open space allows pry bars or pallet jacks underneath which can pull the bolts right out of the floor. We often use hockey pucks or thin strips of wood to create a ventilation space underneath. Hockey pucks even look good. But this small space makes a great home for mice and bugs.
Finished hardwood floors are easily scratched when maneuvering a safe into place. Here are two things that work out well: Put the safe on a piece of up-side-down carpet, soft side to the floor. The safe will slide easily into place and it won’t scratch the floor. Four thick felt pads under the safe will accomplish the same thing. But be careful using pads because some safes are bowed on the bottom and the middle might still scrape the floor.
f you are not concerned about someone removing your safe, and you do not want the floor stained, and you don’t want to create a home for small critters, and you want it to look nice, buy a 4” high carpeted pedestal. We sell them for $70.