How to Protect Windows During High Winds

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If you have seen folks preparing for a hurricane, you know that they buy all the plywood they can carry to put over their windows. Usually, the stores order plywood in advance of hurricane season. Piles of plywood are everywhere, each waiting to be cut, fit and attached to its own special window.If you are in the store buying plywood and the winds are already blowing, you're too late. Plywood must be the proper strength and applied correctly before the hurricane or high winds arrive or they won't do any good.

Things You'll Need

  • At least 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch exterior plywood; as many pieces as you have windows and sliding glass doors.
  • 3 inch or 4 inch heavy duty barrel bolts
  • Drill for window insets
  • Screwdriver
  • Circular saw
  • Permanent marker

Building Plywood Shutters

  • Cut plywood to fit windows. In order to work properly as wind shutters, the plywood has to fit inside the exterior sides of the window. If the plywood is just nailed to the side of the house covering the windows, it can be ripped off if wind gets under it. When you are cutting the plywood, make sure you have a snug fit. Many windows are not square, so measure every corner before you cut.

  • Mark which side is out and what window that piece of plywood fits on.

  • Use four bolts for small windows. For larger windows or sliding glass doors, use one bolt every two feet or so.

  • Insert your plywood in your window. Your windows probably have a 2 inch inset and you will fit your barrel bolt into these insets. This works best because the wood is recessed and fastened to the window sill with barrel bolts. The wind can't get under it and the plywood is fastened at the top and the bottom making it almost impossible to remove or push into the house.

  • Screw the barrel bolts to the plywood. Make a mark on the window recess where each barrel bolt slides up against the wall. Make a mark on the window recess.

  • Remove the plywood panel and drill the bolt holes using a bit just big enough for the bolt. You will probably have to tap the bolt with a hammer to fasten it.

  • Connect more pieces of plywood with 2 x 4 inches for sliding glass doors. You can also use a full length piano hinge to make it easier to fold and store.

  • Paint the panels because you will keep them for a long time. Do not paint over the numbers and notes you made telling you which window the plywood fits on and which side is up.

  • If you hear that a hurricane or high wind is approaching, install your plywood shutters. Can you see why this cannot be done properly while the wind is blowing?

Tips & Warnings

  • Make your plywood protectors long before any hurricane is near. Paint them and have them ready to install
  • Do not tape your windows. The tape does not keep a window in place or keep it from breaking. Removing the tape is more difficult than you can imagine.

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