How to Board Up Windows During a Hurricane


Hurricanes can cause major damage to your home. Boarding up your windows can reduce the chance of water and wind damage and possibly structural failure caused by high winds entering the home's interior. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends using 5/8-inch marine plywood to make your own hurricane shutters for windows and doors with glass. Proper installation of the shutters is critical, but it's equally important cut and prepare the shutter panels in advance so they're ready to be installed during a storm watch.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • 4-foot level or straight board
  • Clamps
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Pencil
  • 1/4-inch lag screws or masonry anchors
  • 1/4-inch washers
  • Socket wrench
  • Measure the width and height of each window opening, then add 8 inches to each dimension to allow for 4 inches of overlap along all sides of the window opening. This is the size for each shutter panel.

  • Cut each shutter panel to size from 5/8-inch marine or exterior-grade plywood, using a circular saw. To ensure straight cuts, clamp a 4-foot level or a straight board to the panel, using the straightedge to guide the base of the saw. Mark each panel clearly to indicate which specific window it is sized for.

  • Test-fit each shutter panel and mark the backside of the panel for pilot holes for lag screws (on walls with conventional siding) or anchor bolts (for solid-masonry walls or those with brick veneer). On conventional walls, the fasteners must penetrate into the solid-wood framing around the window opening, not just into the siding and wall sheathing. Locate a pilot hole about 2 1/2 inches from each panel corner, and space the remaining holes every 12 inches in between. Again, make sure the holes will penetrate into the wall framing. Remove the panels and drill the pilot holes, using a bit sized for your fasteners.

  • Set each panel over its corresponding window and transfer the pilot hole locations to the house wall. Drill pilot holes at the marked locations, using an appropriate bit for your lag screws or anchors.

  • Secure each panel on all four sides, using lag screws or anchor bolts: For wood-framed houses with windows measuring 3 x 4 feet or smaller, use 1/4-inch lag screws and large washers. For larger windows, use 3/8-inch lags with washers. For masonry walls with windows 3 x 4 feet or smaller, use 1/4-inch masonry anchors; for larger windows, use 3/8-inch anchors. Drive the lags or anchors with a socket wrench or other tool, as appropriate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear eye protection when cutting with a circular saw. Plywood is particularly prone to splintering and throwing debris during cutting.
  • Photo Credit Chris Graythen/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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