Product Review: Quake Hold! Furniture Safety Straps

This week we’ll be looking at another system for securing tall, heavy furniture: Quake Hold! Furniture Safety Straps. The basic idea is still to attach the furniture to the wall, but this system uses nylon straps instead of metal cables. It also bonds the straps to your furniture using adhesive instead of screws, and it uses hook-and-loop fasteners to make them removable for cleaning.

For this project we chose the second most risky item in our home, a tall antique “secretary desk” with drawers on the bottom and glass doors on the top. It sits right next to our dining room table where we spend a lot of time, and thus where it could easily fall on someone. The glass doors on top would also increase the chance of injury if it hit anyone. We didn’t really want to drill holes in it, and the straps will be too high for curious little fingers to reach, so we opted for the Velcro┬« straps this time.

We’ll use a step-by-step photo series again, and just as with the previous project always take the time to test-fit everything before drilling holes or exposing any adhesive.

Step 1: This is the same for any project: Before you do anything else, lay out all the parts, make sure nothing is missing, read the instructions, and be sure you understand how everything is supposed to fit together. As you can see, this product is also sold in sets of two, since you will typically need two straps per piece of furniture.

Step 2: Drill the holes. Since we covered the whole “stud-detector” and “probe hole” business a couple weeks ago, we’ll skip over that part. For this system, we only need one hole per strap, times two straps. As before, each hole must be drilled into a wall stud. This photo shows the two holes we need after all the patching and paint touch-up has been completed.

Step 3: Attach each strap to the wall using one lag screw. For now we’re keeping the hook-and-loop end of the strap out of the way with a piece of painter’s tape.

Step 4: Be sure to use one of the supplied washers with each lag screw. This will spread the force and make the straps less likely to pull loose during severe shaking. A single lag screw is used with each strap; the extra holes are there to provide the option of having a longer strap.

Step 5: Position the piece of furniture where you want it. If you’ve drilled your holes at the right height, the lag screw should be barely covered, with the rest of the strap exposed above the top edge of the furniture.

Step 6: Clean the top surface of the furniture where the self-adhesive will go, using the supplied alcohol wipes. Then peel off the protective covering and stick the top of the strap to the top of the furniture. Be sure to test-fit first, because once it sticks it’s not going to come off without a fight. Also do not separate the Velcro┬« strips; stick the whole thing onto the furniture as a single unit.

This is what it should look like when you’re done. Note the small amount of slack in each strap, which provides the necessary play.

When shaking occurs, the furniture will be able to rock slightly forward or sideways, but not very far. The play in the straps allows them to flex rather than break if the earthquake waves pass through the wall.

For furniture whose top is above most people’s eye level, the installation will be nearly invisible once completed.

Here is my rating on this system:

  • The effort to install these straps is about the same as for the metal-cable system. You save a little time by needing fewer holes, but you spend some extra time preparing and positioning the adhesive, so it’s basically a wash in that respect.
  • This design also allows the necessary play between the furniture and the wall.
  • If it is necessary to move the furniture you can peel the hook-and-loop apart and re-fasten it later. The good part of this is that it requires no tools. The bad part is that every time you do this, the connection loses a little bit of strength. After about 25 separate-and-rejoin cycles the system can lose up to 50% of its strength.
  • No holes are required in the furniture. The straps are glued to the outside but if you choose the location carefully they won’t be very noticeable, and they come in a few different colors to make them even less conspicuous.
  • When installed following the manufacturer’s instructions the system appears to be reasonably secure. In theory it might be possible for an earthquake to twist the furniture in such a way as to separate the hook-and-loop fasteners, but the motion would have to be so violent that I’d wonder if a house would even remain standing when subjected to it.
  • There are 4 small screws supplied which allow you to use this system when the adhesive won’t bond to the item you are securing, for example if it is unfinished wood. I didn’t try this, so I don’t know how that would affect the strength.
  • The cost is comparable with competing systems (about $10 available locally).

Overall, I consider these a decent choice when you are not going to be moving the item very often and want a system that (1) requires no holes in your furniture and (2) is inconspicuous.

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