Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused significant damage in 2017, and communities are still recovering. So while the rebuilding process continues, it’s a good time to prepare your home for the next hurricane season. If you live in coastal areas where these storms regularly occur, seriously consider investing in hurricane shutters. These permanent fixtures will save you time and money in the long run and are ultimately the sturdiest (and safest) option.
But if you’re in a pinch, follow this guide to boarding up your windows. We’ll cover how to board windows both from the inside and the outside, how to install the coverings for different house types—vinyl, brick, and stucco—the best materials to use, and the tools you’ll need. Let’s get started.
How to Properly Board Up Windows on the Outside
Important Tips & Supplies Needed
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- Circular saw
- Large washers
- Screws (corrosion-resistant recommended)
- Measuring tape
- Drill & drill bits
- Barrel bolts (for masonry homes)
Quick Tip #1: The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) recommends using plywood that is ⅝-inch thick.
Quick Tip #2: Consider using PLYLOX window clips (also referred to as hurricane clips or tension clips). These clips are made from carbon steel or stainless steel and can be used to secure plywood. They don’t require drilling holes or nailing anything down. Instead, the h-shaped design holds against the window’s casing. Plus, they can be reused year after year.
Windows with Vinyl Siding
For homes with vinyl siding, make sure to measure the space you need to cover. You’ll want the plywood panels to overlap the window four inches to ensure your windows won’t get blown out. Make sure to drill holes into the studs of your home; the trim won’t be stable enough to withstand storms. Space out the holes so that you’re drilling them every 12 to 16 inches.
Windows on a Brick or Stucco House
If your home has a brick or stucco exterior, the process of boarding up your windows will look a bit different. Instead of measuring a border that extends beyond your window, you’ll want to place the plywood on the inside of your window frame. Use 4-inch barrel bolts to secure the panels and space them 15 inches apart.
WATCH: How to Keep Your Family Safe During a Hurricane
How to Board Up Windows From the Inside
Place security window films over the glass from the inside. While not as effective as boarding windows up from the outside, using films will at least keep the glass in place should the windows break. Glass window clips can also be used to ensure your windows stay shut.
How to Board Up Windows Without Plywood
If plywood sells out everywhere and you can’t get your hands on any, don’t fret: Alternative types of wood can be used. Try insulation board, oriented strand board, or polycarbonate panels instead. Polycarbonate panels are 60 percent lighter than plywood and still allow natural light into your home (especially helpful if the power goes out).