How to Board Up Windows
There could be a number of reasons why you need to board up your windows. Maybe one of your panes shattered and you need a temporary fix until the window company can come and replace it.
Perhaps you own a rental property in a more lively part of town and you need to prevent unwanted guests from camping out on your property.
Maybe you’re one of the millions of people who live on the East Coast, especially in the South, and will occasionally need to board up your windows to protect them from tropical storms. Tropical storms, called Hurricanes can wreak absolute devastation on properties in their path.
Not only can they break windows by hurtling debris through the glass, but if the pressure differentials reach a certain point, they can blow the windows of your home open, leaving the interior exposed to dangerous winds, rain, and again, hurtling debris.
Before there’s a storm heading your way, make sure you take these steps to board up your windows securely.
Step #1: Have the material ready to go before hurricane season.
If you’ve lived in a place like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Jacksonville, you know that at the slightest word of tropical storm warning, everyone is headed to the nearest grocery store to buy canned food and bottled water. They’ll also go to the hardware store of course, to by materials for securing their home.
Don’t get caught in that mad rush for two reasons: (1) you’ll lose valuable time, and (2) you may not get the supplies you need, especially if everyone else is grabbing them. Instead, have things ready to go before the mad spree happens..
Figure out what size boards you need for your windows and store them somewhere cool and dry to avoid rotting. You’ll also need screws, washers and a charged drill and drill bits.
If you have a masonry home (like stone or brick) you’ll also need barrel bolts. If you’re looking for some sort of guideline about how thick the plywood should be, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) suggests that you use plywood that is at least ⅝ of an inch in thickness.
If you don’t want to have to become a handyman running against the clock as the hurricane races to make landfall, you can use something like PLYLOX window clips instead of screws. Made from steel, these little H-shaped beauties can be used to securely fasten the plywood against the window casing without having to drill any holes or nail things down.
Step #2: Take note of the material of your home’s siding.
If your home has vinyl siding, you’ll want to make sure the board is wide enough to cover at least 4 inches around the window, and that furthermore, you can nail it into wall studs and not just the siding.
If you nail it into the siding alone, the wind could rip it right off, leaving your window exposed. The holes you drill should be 12 to 16 inches apart.
If your home has wood siding, you’ll still need to make sure that your nails and/or screws are going into the studs, and that the plywood is going around the window frame by at least one inch. The screws you use should go into the wood by at least two inches.
Helpful tips: You can make it easier on yourself by installing stainless steel hanger bolts into the wood frame, and matching holes in the plywood. When storms are a-brewing, you can quickly throw up the panels with bolts and washers.
Make sure your panels are numbered, so that you know which panel goes to which window. If your home has brick or stucco on the exterior, you’ll want to make sure the plywood is securely attached to the wood frame.
That said, instead of having plywood material that extends beyond the window, you’ll want to make sure your precise measurements have created a piece that can rest securely inside the wood of the frame. You should use your barrel bolts, spaced 15 inches apart, to secure the plywood to the wood frame.
Step #3: Cover the inside of the pane as well.
Just because you’ve boarded up the windows on the outside doesn’t mean that you’re totally safe. With something as unpredictable as as a storm, you never know when the glass could get blown out, with the wood still covering the window.
Avoid this dangerous problem by covering up the inside of the window as well. You could use a specially made window cover, or even heavy plastic, secured with strong packing tape.
It may be the case that you also are not able to cover the exteriors in time, what with all the measuring, drilling, and positioning you need to do. It’s still a helpful idea to cover the inside as best as you can, if only to make sure that glass won’t get sprayed into the inside of your home.
Step #4: Consider a more permanent solution.
If you live in a climate where tropical storms are the norm, you don’t want to have to do this every year. Consider an alternative solution, like hurricane shutters.
These shutters can be a permanent part of your home, while offering the versatility of closing over your windows and protecting the interior of your living space from damage during a powerful hurricane.
They don’t have to be an eyesore; there are plenty of styles and looks that can go right along with the appearance of your home’s facade, while also offering great coverage during a storm.
You could also contact a local company that specializes in window treatments to see what they could do for you. They’ll have the expertise to install a safe product, and usually a warranty to back it up. When hurricane season hits, you’ll be happy that you have one less thing to worry about.
When it comes to boarding up your windows, you need to have the supplies on hand. If you live in a hurricane-prone climate, or have rental properties in a neighborhood where homes are subject to break ins, it’s helpful to have premeasured, precut plywood on hand, along with the right screws, washers, or bolts.
Another option, especially if you live in a southern or tropical climate, is to get some type of shutter installed that can also function as a durable window covering during a hurricane.
If you’re boarding up your windows during a storm, an added benefit of doing so is that you won’t have to worry about protecting your property from potential break-ins; unfortunately, rioting and looting can sometimes follow in the wake of a storm and provide another incentive for securing your property.
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