Plywood shutters are relatively easy for a homeowner to make with the right hardware and tools. While this type of hurricane shutter is the most common amongst homeowners, businesses, and apartment renters, plywood shutters are also the least effective.
Typical reasons for using plywood panels include budget restraints, temporary or transitional housing, location relative to the coast, or simple lack of desire for permanent hurricane shutters. While not recommended, plywood hurricane exterior shutters can largely increase the chance of saving the home during a storm in contrast to no protection at all.
Plywood hurricane shutters are the most inexpensive and affordable type of storm panels to protect windows and doors. The average cost to construct plywood hurricane shutters is $1-$5 per square foot as opposed to $30 - $50 per square foot for rolling hurricane shutters.
Most counties along the coast establish codes and requirements for the construction and use of hurricane shutters and panels. Plywood panels are not approved and do not meet any building codes. However, plywood hurricane panels are recognized by the National Weather Service (NOAA) as offering a high level of protection.
Plywood is often in high demand during hurricane seasons, especially when a hurricane is immanent. It is strongly recommended to construct the panels during the off season. It takes time to obtain the proper materials, properly size, and construct plywood hurricane shutters for each opening. At all costs avoid constructing plywood shutters as a hurricane approaches.
The minimum recommendation for solid plywood hurricane shutters construction is 5/8 inches panels. Secure in place with at least 4 barrel bolts per exterior window. Prime and paint all panels front and back to help extend the life and strengthen the plywood. Clearly label each panel to prevent confusion during installation in preparation for a tropical storm. Store exterior plywood panels off the ground in an area for quick easy access.
Install plywood hurricane shutters before winds strengthen. Winds of a tropical storm make it increasingly difficult to lift and maneuver large sheets of plywood.
Again, use plywood hurricane shutters only if other types of hurricane shutters are not feasible. If at all possible consider professionally installed hurricane shutters.