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Installing Shutters or Plywood Window Covers

Release date: 
April 18, 2006
Release Number: 
1606-195

AUSTIN, Texas -- High winds and windblown debris can easily break unprotected windows and then enter your house where wind and debris can cause more damage. Protecting windows may help you avoid damage to your home.

Windows can be protected with permanent storm shutters or temporary plywood covers. Permanent storm shutters can usually be closed quickly and easily ? an advantage over temporary covers. Temporary covers can be an economical alternative and installed fairly quickly if the necessary preparations are made. Plywood covers also can be used to protect sliding glass and French doors.

If you decide to use temporary plywood covers, you may want to hire a contractor or handyman to make them for you. If you do the work yourself, you will need to cut the plywood to fit each window and drill holes for screws or lag bolts in each cover and in the wall studs around each window. Renters may want to first check with their landlord.

  • Don't wait until a hurricane warning is issued to make the covers; you probably won't have time. Make them now so that you'll be ready to install them quickly.
  • Use ½ inch plywood ? marine plywood is best.
  • Ensure plywood window covers extend beyond window frame.
  • Screws or lag bolts should be placed every 18 inches along the top, bottom, and sides of each cover, and they should be long enough to penetrate the wall studs around the window, not just the siding or wall covering.
  • Store the mounting screws or lag bolts with the covers, where they are readily accessible ? don't stack heavy boxes or other hard-to-move materials on top of or around the covers.
  • Use a numbering or lettering system to match covers and windows. Mark the inside and the top.

Other Sources of Information:

Against the Wind , (FEMA 247)

Best Build 1, Constructing a Sound Coastal Home

Order a free copy of these and other FEMA documents, toll-free, at 1-800-480-2520 or view online at FEMA's Web site, and in the search box, type plywood window covers, Against the Wind, or Best Build 1.

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:41