Installing plywood hurricane shutters can protect your windows from damage caused by flying debris during an extreme storm. When properly installed, plywood hurricane shutters will also protect the interior of your home from wind and water damage. As we discussed in the previous article “Hurricane Window Protection”, the optimum thickness for the shutters is 5/8” thick plywood. DO NOT use OSB. Now let’s take a look at three common installation methods. I also found, and posted, a couple of videos that demonstrate the procedures discussed here in this article.
Mounting Plywood Hurricane Shutters with Screws
When mounting plywood hurricane shutters with screws you have two options depending on the construction of your home. For concrete structures you need to cut the plywood 5 inches wider and taller than the window opening. Mark the plywood 1-1/2” from the outer edges and pre-drill a series of holes around the perimeter of the wood on 18 inch centers. With the plywood in place, use the special Tapcon screws to drill into the concrete.
If your home is wood construction, you will mount the plywood directly to the face of the wood window frames. In this case cut the plywood roughly the same size as the window frame. Using wood screws spaced every 18 inches, fasten the plywood to the window frame itself. Do not screw it to the siding of the house.
Mounting Plywood Hurricane Shutters using Hurricane Clips
Using Plylox Hurricane Clips may be the simplest method of attaching plywood prior to a storm. The beauty of using the Plylox clips is that there is no drilling required. However; I am not fully convinced the clips will survive a Cat 2 hurricane, they are certainly no match for a Cat 5 hurricane, although their website claims they are. Additionally, the clips are engineered to work with ½” plywood, while the general consensus is that 5/8” plywood should be used to protect your windows from flying storm debris.
Measure the window opening and cut the plywood ¼” narrower. This will allow for a 1/8” gap all around the wooden shutter. Exact measurements are critical when using the Plylox clips. The minimum spacing for the clips is 24” or less depending on the Hurricane Category and the size of the window itself. You can find a detailed chart with the number of clips required on the Plylox website.
Using Barrel Bolts to Mount Plywood Hurricane Shutters
In the video below Billy Birdwell demonstrates the FEMA recommended method for installing reusable plywood hurricane shutters. The thing I like about the Barrel Bolt method is how fast and easy it is to install the shutters for subsequent storms. They may not be quite as strong and secure as the screw method above, but it sure takes the hassle out of preparing your home for a storm.
Once again, using 5/8” thick plywood carefully measure each window opening. Cut the plywood sheet to allow for a 1/16” clearance all around the sheet. So, for a 48” wide opening, cut the plywood 47-7/8” wide, and so on. Mount the barrel clamps to the face of the plywood using the wood screws that came in the package. The video shows 2 latches on each vertical side and one across on the top. I prefer to space the clamps at a minimum of 18 inches. So, for a full 4×8 sheet I would affix 4 or 5 clamps on the vertical sides and 2 or 3 clamps across the top.
Use a sharpie to mark each plywood shutter with the window location as well as the orientation. Draw an arrow pointing up for the “Top” of the shutter. This will make it much easier to figure out which shutter goes where when the next hurricane arrives.