If you live in an area that gets hit by hurricanes, boarding up your windows is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent damage to your home.
By boarding up windows before a hurricane, you can prevent windows from breaking. The shutters also keep rain and debris out.
For hurricane covers to be effective, though, you have to put them up. This means you should have them ready ahead of time. You don’t want to be scrambling to buy and cut plywood before the hurricane makes landfall – time which would be better used evacuating to safety!
While professional hurricane shutters are usually the best option, it is possible to make DIY shutters on a budget. Here are three ways to do it.
Also read: How to Prepare for Hurricanes
- Use plywood that is at least 5/8 inch thick.
- If your windows are larger than a sheet of plywood, attach two pieces of plywood together with a 2×4 board and 2 ½” screws spaced every 4 to 6 inches.
- Paint covers with an exterior primer. This helps weatherproof them.
Method 1: Using Barrel Bolts
This is considered the best method for boarding windows. Because the plywood cover fits snugly inside the window frame, wind is less likely to get underneath it and pull it away. It is only suitable for windows that have at least a 2” inset.
- Measure the window.
- Cut plywood so it fits the window exactly.
- Fasten 3-inch or 4-inch heavy-duty barrel bolts onto the panel. They should be fastened with #8 bolts (not screws!) and washers. Use one barrel bolt per each one to two feet. A small window will only need four bolts (one on each side or two on each side).
- Place the panel against the window. Mark where the barrel bolts meet the wall.
- Remove the panel and drill holes for the barrel bolts.
Method 2: Screws
This method isn’t as good as the bold method above but may be the only DIY hurricane cover option for windows that aren’t recessed.
- Measure your windows: Include the window frame in the measurements, but do not include the trim.
- Cut plywood to fit windows: Add 8 inches to the width and height measurements. If your windows have a sill that protrudes outwards, only add 4 inches to the height. This is because the plywood will sit on top of the sill.
- Prepare the covers For wood homes: Draw a line two inches from the edges of the cover. For vinyl siding homes: Draw a line 3 ¼ inches from the edges of the cover.
- Drill holes in covers: Drill holes on the line in each corner and in 12-inch intervals along the line. The drill bit should be one size smaller than the screws you will use to attach the covers.
- Prepare the windows: Have someone hold the windows in position. Put a pencil through the pre-drilled holes in the cover to mark their location on the wall. Put the cover down. Drill holes in the wall at the points you marked. They should be 2 inches deep. For brick or stucco, you’ll need to use a masonry drill bit.
- Install the covers: For large windows, use 3-inch long 3/8-inch lag screws or galvanized pan head screws to attach the covers over the windows. For smaller windows, you can use 2 ½ inch long ¼ inch screws. For brick or stucco, you’ll need to use masonry screws. Attach the top corners first, then the bottom corners, and then the remaining bolts.
Note: Make sure the covers are actually screwed into framing studs and not the trim!
Method 3: Window Clips
This is an easy, no-drill way of attaching hurricane window covers. For it to work, the windows must have an inset of at least 2 ½ inches.
- Measure the window
- Subtract ¼ inch from the measurements
- Cut plywood to this new measurement
- Attach window clips to the vertical sides of the plywood. You will need at least one clip for each 12 inches of plywood. Make sure the clips are snug on the plywood. You may need to tap them with a hammer to get them on.
- Push the plywood into the window opening. The clip teeth will hold it in place. Keep pushing until the cover can’t go any deeper into the window.
- To remove the clips, put your fingers behind the clips on one side to remove the tension.
You can buy the clips on Amazon.