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How to Board Up a Window

Board up a window for protection against strong storms and hurricanes.


  • Step 1: Measure your windows Measure each window in your home--including skylights and glass doors--horizontally, from the inside of the exterior trim, and vertically, from the windowsill to the bottom of the top trim.
  • Step 2: Add overlap Add eight inches to both the height and the width to provide a four-inch overlap on every side.
  • TIP: If the window has an extended bottom sill (a window sill that comes out further than the other sills), add four inches to the height instead of eight.
  • Step 3: Buy plywood Purchase sheets of plywood cut to these specifications.
  • TIP: If you have a circular saw, buy standard-sized sheets, don some safety goggles, and cut them yourself.
  • Step 4: Drill holes Drill holes in the plywood the same diameter as the bolts or screws you will be using, The holes should be two inches in from the edges of the plywood at each corner, and at 12-inch intervals around the panel.
  • TIP: If your bottom sill extends out, don’t drill holes along the bottom of your plywood.
  • Step 5: Mark holes Have a friend hold the plywood up to the window it will cover while you make a mark through each of the holes you just drilled into the plywood.
  • Step 6: Drill holes Using the marks as reference, drill holes into your house.
  • Step 7: Hammer in anchors Use a hammer to insert the appropriate anchors--permanent for a wood-framed home, plastic for masonry--into the holes that you just drilled.
  • TIP: On smaller windows with a wood frame, the anchors should penetrate the wall at least 1 ¾ inch. For larger windows with a wood frame, penetrate the wall at least 2 ¼ inch. If you’re securing it to masonry, 1 ¼ inch for small windows and 1 ½ inch for large windows is sufficient.
  • Step 8: Attach plywood Hold the plywood up to the window and, placing washers over the holes, use the lag screws or expansion bolts (depending on whether your home is wood framed or masonry) to secure the plywood to your house.
  • Step 9: Brace the seam If two sheets of plywood are required to cover a single window, you’ll need to add bracing along the entire seam. Cut a two-by-four the same length as the seam and attach it to the plywood panels with the 10-gauge, two-inch exterior deck screws spaced every four inches.
  • Step 10: Label panel Label the panel so you know which window it’s supposed to go over.
  • Step 11: Waterproof panels If you’re planning to reuse the panels (and after all that work, why not?) consider waterproofing the panels with paint or a sealant.
  • Step 12: Remove screws After the storm, simply remove the lag or expansion screws holding the panel to your wall, and store the panels, bolts, and washers for the next big storm.
  • FACT: In the 1960s and 1970s, the US government tried various ways to dissipate hurricanes artificially, but the program, called 'Project Stormfury,' failed.

You Will Need

  • Exterior-grade plywood
  • at least 5/8 of an" thick
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Hammer
  • Lag screws and plastic-coated permanent anchors (for wood-framed houses)
  • Washers
  • Expansion bolts and galvanized expansion anchors (for masonry)
  • A circular saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Two-by-fours
  • 10-gauge
  • 2-inch galvanized screws (exterior deck screws)
  • Waterproofing

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