One of the best ways to protect your home from an oncoming storm is boarding up windows to prevent dangerous debris from violent winds from smashing into your windows. home during a tropical storm with violent winds. If a storm is forecast for your area soon, now is the time to learn how to board up windows. Home Depot’s online project guide offers tips for the most efficient way to prepare your home.

Boarding windows on a wood frame house

Select 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch plywood – anything thinner won’t endure the impact of projectiles blown by strong winds. Measure each window from the inside of the trim to get the width and height of the opening from the exterior.

Add eight inches to the measurements to allow your plywood shutters to overlap the window by four inches on each side. Cut plywood panels to the correct dimensions, including the overlap. Use a two-inch by four-inch board to connect and brace two pieces together for larger openings. Use two-inch long deck screws in four-inch intervals to attach the board to the plywood along the seam of the two pieces.

Label each piece you cut to indicate which window it will cover and mark an arrow to show which edge faces up.

Make a reference line around the panel two inches from the edge using a carpenter’s level or other straight edge. Mark the locations for holes to drill along this line – in each corner and along the lengths at 12-inch intervals. If the bottom sill extends beyond the rest of the trim around the window, don’t drill along the bottom edge of the panel. Windows measuring three-feet by four-feet and smaller will use 1/4-inch lag screws, two and a half inches long. Use thicker 3/8-inch lag screws, three inches long, around large windows.

Hold the plywood in place at the window. Make a mark on the building’s exterior through each of the holes you drilled to show the locations for the lag screws. Remove the plywood and drill pilot holes at each reference mark. For small and medium windows, the screws should penetrate the home’s frame 1-3/4 inches deep. The lag screws used around windows larger than three feet by four feet should penetrate 2-1/4 inches deep.

Align the panel’s holes with the pilot holes in the siding. Slip a washer onto a lag screw and use a power drill to securely install the hurricane shutter over the window. The washers will prevent the fastener from boring into the plywood, which could weaken the panel.

These storm shutters are reusable. When time permits, weatherproof them with a wood sealer or exterior paint. Be sure to label them clearly and store them to use during the next storm.

Boarding up windows on a masonry house

Boarding up windows on different types of homes involves different installation methods.

On a masonry or brick house, measure the width and height of the inset for each window on the exterior of the home. The inset should be at least two inches deep.

Cut plywood to the dimensions of the opening so that it fits snugly into the inset. Label each piece to indicate which window it will cover and mark an arrow to show which end goes up.

Attach a three to four-inch barrel bolt onto each edge of the panel. While most windows will require four bolts, larger windows will need more. Place them at 18-inch intervals on those longer edges.

When installing the bolts, be sure they are positioned square to the edge of the storm shutter.

Place the panel with the barrel bolts attached in the window recess. Mark the location where the bolt slides to meet the inset. Use an appropriate masonry bit and a hammer drill to bore a hole just wide enough for the bolt to slide into the masonry for a secure fit.

When boring the holes to receive the barrel bolt, be sure that the bit is going into the brick and not grout. Also, be careful to aim the drill bit straight in to correspond with the bolt when it is extended. If the hole is angled away, the bolt might not be able to fully extend.