How to Board Up Your Windows Before a Hurricane

How to Board Up Your Windows Before a Hurricane

The 2020 hurricane season broke records, producing 30 named storms. These storms are dangerous and highly damaging. In fact, from 1980 to 2020, hurricanes have cost the U.S. $1.875 trillion. If your home is in the path of a hurricane, you must take action.

One way to protect your home and reduce damage is to board up your doors and windows. Below is some information to help you board up your windows properly.

How to Install Wood on Windows for Hurricane
Plywood hurricane shutters will not prevent all damage. However, having hurricane shutters in place reduces losses.

Preparing for Your Hurricane Plywood Installation
Before you begin the hurricane plywood window-boarding-up installation process, you need to get the right materials and tools.

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Wood sealers
  • Wood screws (pan heads or lags)
  • Concrete anchor bolts
  • Gate latches

How to Measure Windows for Hurricane Panels
Having the right size plywood panel makes boarding up windows more effective. To measure windows properly:

  • Measure from the exterior of the home.
     
  • Find the width and height of the opening as measured inside the trim.
     
  • Add 8 inches to both measurements to allow shutters to overlap the windows on each side.
     
  • If the window sill extends beyond window trim, add only 4 inches instead of 8 to the height.

Best Nails for Boarding Up Windows for Hurricane
Boarding up windows is most effective with wood screws or bolts, not nails. Use wood screws on wood-frame houses and bolts on masonry houses.

Minimum Length Screw for Boarding Up Windows for Hurricane
Screws should be at least 2.5 inches long. Larger windows require a 3-inch screw. Bolts used for masonry houses should be at least 3 inches long.

Once you have all the right materials, follow these basic steps for a wood-frame house.

  1. Take measurements of each window opening.
     
  2. Use a circular saw to cut the sheet of plywood for each window properly.
     
  3. Label each piece of plywood based on the window it will cover. Mark each piece, so you know which way it faces.
     
  4. Draw reference lines on each panel using a level. The line should be 2 inches from the edges of the plywood on all sides.
     
  5. Make marks for drilling along this line in each corner. Make marks at 12-inch intervals along the lengths. (If the window sill extends past the trim, do not mark or drill the bottom edge).
     
  6. Use a power drill to drill holes. Choose a drill bit a bit larger than your fasteners.
     
  7. Hold the plywood in place over the first window. Mark the exterior of your home through each drilled hole.
     
  8. Remove the drill pilot holes and plywood for each screw. Holes for most windows should be 1-3/4 inches deep. For larger windows (more than 3 ft by 4 ft), holes should be 2-1/4 inches deep.

    When attaching plywood to vinyl siding, be sure to drill into the studs.
     
  9. Align the plywood pane with the window. Slip a washer onto the lag screw and use the power drill to attach the panel. Repeat for each hole.

    (For small windows, use 1/4-inch lag screws with a length of 2-1/2 inches. For larger windows, use 3/8-inch lag screws with a length of 3 inches).
     
  10. Repeat for all windows.

How to Board Up Your Windows on a Brick House

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools          Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Concrete anchor bolts

Boarding up windows on a brick house is similar to boarding up windows on a wood-frame house. Use the basic instructions above, but:

  • Use 1/4-inch expansion bolts instead of wood screws.
     
  • Be sure anchors are corrosion-resistant and 1-1/2 inches deep.

How to Board Up Your Windows without Drilling

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Wood sealers
  • Hurricane window clips

If you do not want to drill, you can use plywood hurricane clips instead. Be sure to choose the proper clips. Brick clips are necessary for masonry houses.

Follow the basic steps above to measure panels, but do not drill. Instead, attach the panels using the clips.

Boarding Up Windows from the Inside

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Glass window clips
  • Security window films
  • Security window film
  • Glass window clips

To protect windows from the inside, place security window films over the glass. Use glass window clips to keep windows shut. This method will not be as effective as boarding up outside.

Board Up Windows No Plywood

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Bolts
  • Screws
  • Metal or polycarbonate barricades
  • High-tensile fabric
  • Brackets
  • Tracks
  • Bolts

If you do not want to use plywood, other options exist. Metal barricades, for example. These barricades are impact-resistant. They attach to windows along a track.  Sometimes the installation will require bolts as well.

You can special order these shutters based on window sizes. Installation instructions vary based on the product. Some are permanent, while others are temporary.

You can also use a different type of wood with the same basic steps above. Examples include insulation boards and polycarbonate panels.

How to Board Up Metal Frame Windows

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Wood sealers
  • Wood screws (pan heads or lags)
  • Concrete anchor bolts
  • Gate latches

Follow the same basic steps of boarding up windows above, except:

  • Measure plywood panels to fit inside each window frame.

Board Up Windows for Hurricane Block Walls

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Concrete anchor bolts
  • Gate latches

Follow the same steps as for brick houses. Be sure to use lead-sleeve anchors.

Boarding Up Large Windows for Hurricane

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Wood sealers
  • Wood screws (pan heads or lags)
  • Concrete anchor bolts
  • Gate latches

Follow the general steps above, but:

  • Drill holes 2-1/4 inches deep.
  • Use 3/8-inch lag screws with a length of 3 inches.
  • If windows are too large for one plywood panel, anchor two panels together with gate latches.

How to Board Up Windows for Hurricane Stucco

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Concrete anchor bolts
  • Follow the same steps as for brick houses.

How to Board Up a Door

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Wood sealers
  • Wood screws (pan heads or lags)
  • Concrete anchor bolts
  • Gate latches

Follow the same basic instructions used to board up windows. When working with a wood-frame house:

  • Add only 4 inches to the height when measuring plywood.
  • Do not mark or drill holes along the bottom of the panel.

Boarding Up Sliding Glass Doors for Hurricane

Tools and Materials Needed

          Tools           Materials
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Level
  • Sanded plywood, 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch thick
  • Wood sealers
  • Wood screws (pan heads or lags)
  • Concrete anchor bolts
  • Gate latches

Follow the same basic instructions used to board up windows. When working with a wood-frame house:

  • Add only 4 inches to the height when measuring plywood.
  • Do not mark or drill holes along the bottom of the panel.
  • Attach two pieces of plywood together when one piece is not large enough.

Cost to Board Up Windows for Hurricane
Expect to pay roughly $0.60 per square foot for the plywood plus the cost of screws, clips, and bolts. It may cost about $10 per 3 ft. x 4 ft. window.

The cost to board up windows for a hurricane depends on:

  • Whether you need to buy new tools
  • The materials used
  • The number of windows you have
  • The size of your windows
  • The type of home you have (brick, stucco, wood-frame, etc.)

How to Get a Home Insurance Discount for Wind Resistance Features
Home insurers may give you a discount on insurance if you protect your home from wind damage. To qualify, you will need a wind mitigation inspection.

Wind Mitigation Inspection & Certification
During this process, an inspector comes to your home to evaluate wind resistance. Inspectors will look at the roof, windows, and doors. You may get up to an 88% wind resistant discount off your home insurance premiums if you:

  • Have secured your roof with hurricane clips
  • Have a hurricane-resistant garage door
  • Have impact-resistant windows and doors
  • Have permanent protection for windows and doors

Impact Windows and Doors
Impact-resistant windows and doors have impact-resistant glass. Manufacturers design this glass to withstand cat-5 storm conditions and winds up to 200 MPH. Installing impact-resistant windows and doors protects your home. These protections can also save you money on home insurance.

Home Insurance Discount for Hurricane Window Shutters
If you install permanent hurricane window shutters, you can get up to 8% to 10% off your insurance premiums.

Hope that helps!

Free Online Home Insurance Quotes

At your service,
Young Alfred