Is Plywood a Real Hurricane Shutter?
When hurricanes are on our horizon, we witness neighbors make a mad dash to Home Depot or Lowe’s for plywood. They haul the wood home and cover all their windows and doors in hopes of protecting their homes. Is plywood a real hurricane shutter? In a short answer, NO. There are very real issues with using plywood to protect your home, family, and possessions.
Plywood CAN be considered a “Code-Approved” hurricane protection product, but only when it’s installed with very specific hardware pieces and methods. It’s safe to say that 99% of homeowners using plywood are not following the “Code-Approved” methods of installation.
According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), hurricane shutters are the best line of defense to protect the openings in your home such as doors and windows. They also close your house off to the rain and severe wind that can damage the structural integrity of the home. If you don’t currently have permanent protection, consider installing storm panels. They’re lightweight, easy to store, and can be deployed quickly.
Plywood is not an effective alternative, warns IBHS, and should only be used as a last-minute, “better than nothing” line of defense. The chances are pretty good that the plywood sheets will get wet, will warp and won’t be adequate for protecting against dangerous projectiles. Replacing your plywood with standard metal storm panels is an affordable and much more reliable method for securing your home during a storm, although fabric storm panels are increasingly popular. Prepare ahead of time and make sure the right tools and hardware are on hand before the storm nears. Here’s the lowdown on storm panels and window protection:
The better alternative to plywood: Storm Panels
These steel or aluminum hurricane shutters attach to the walls around windows and doors on bolts or tracks. Storm panels are corrugated and each piece overlaps the next for maximum strength. The biggest problem with storm panels is that homeowners often don’t check them when they buy a home. Many discover later that panels are missing or are too heavy to install themselves.
– Most inexpensive of the permanent shutter systems.
– Removable, so they don’t change the look of the house when not in use.
– Strong, and can provide excellent protection for both doors and windows.
– Require storage, but usually stack together tightly and take up little space.
– Can be difficult to handle; hanging can require more than one person.
Average storm preparation time: 20 minutes per window depending on the style.