How to Board Up Windows

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • $30-150
What You'll Need
Marine plywood
Measuring tape
Electric saw
Permanent marker
Long, corrosion resistant screws with flat heads
Electric drill and small drill bit

Plywood is the cheapest and most popular material used to board up windows. Windows are commonly boarded up due to hurricanes or tornados. Plywood is easy to get and has good impact strength. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, plywood boards are the next best thing.

Make sure you have enough boards to cover all the windows and prepare them well before they are needed. The boards can be stored within easy reach under the house, in an attic, or behind shelving in your garage. Installing large boards is a two-person job. You must put them up early, before wind can turn them into dangerous sails and blow them out of your hands.

Step 1 - Measure Windows

Find the wall studs to the side and under the window. Measure your windows just past the wall studs, which is where you will attach the boards. Using your window measurements, cut the boards to shape. If you only cut the boards to the size of your window frame, and not to the outside wall, the windows can still be blown in. Attaching the boards to the wall outside the frame may look ugly but will protect the windows better.

Step 2 - Drill Holes

Mark each plywood panel with a number, or room name, to indicate which window it covers. Place an arrow on the top of each board to indicate up.

Hold the plywood up against the window and drill holes through it, into the studs every 12 to 16 inches. Make sure every hole is at least 1 inch from the panel edge.

Step 3 - Attach the Board

Use the drill to drive all the screws home. If hurricanes are a constant threat where you live, drill hanger bolts around the windows into the studs. Drill matching holes into the plywood sheets. When a storm is imminent, you can quickly mount the boards onto the bolts and screw up the nuts and washers. Prime and paint the bolts to protect them as they are kept in place and reused. When a hurricane warning sounds, you have the boards ready with holes drilled that can quickly be attached over the windows with little fuss.

For masonry homes, fit the plywood sheets inside the window frame, over the glass. Hold it in place with 4-inch barrel bolts spaced about 15 inches apart. The sliding shaft of each bolt fits into a hole drilled into the masonry.

There are new, reusable, plywood clips available to make mounting the boards easier. These clips are called “Plylox” clips and are available at most hardware stores. They remove the need for drilling and nailing. These clips hold the plywood against the window casing.