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Riot Glass® retrofit systems consist of custom-made security glass and framing designs that provide maximum protection against forced entry and ballistic threats.

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Riot Glass® can be used to secure any building. Virtually invisible yet nearly indestructible, it blends seamlessly in almost any existing window, door, or

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Alternatives to Boarding up Windows for Hurricane Protection

Written By: Brad CampbellJanuary 14, 2021

Boarding up doors and windows with plywood sheets is one of the most traditional ways to reinforce your home or business before a storm. With good reason, too; plywood sheets are very affordable and provide a very high level of storm and hurricane protection.

However, boarding up your windows does have some big disadvantages that cause many people to seek out alternative storm damage mitigation solutions. If you’re here, you’re probably one of those people.

In this article we’ll discuss some of the disadvantages of plywood board ups. We’ll also discuss what some of the most popular and effective alternatives to board ups are and what their advantages are.

big dark clouds over ocean

Why Would You Want an Alternative to Boarding Up Windows?

The Facts About Covering Windows with Plywood for Hurricane Protection

Before we dive into the reasons you wouldn’t want to use plywood to cover your doors and windows before a storm, we just want to reiterate that plywood sheets DO create very strong, durable hurricane mitigation barriers over your glass.

Though some alternatives to board ups can provide an equal or greater level of protection against storm damage, not all of the options available to you are designed to fully replace the strength of a solid barrier like plywood.

Key Disadvantages of Plywood Board ups:

  1. Requires lots of measuring and cutting
  2. Boards have to be screwed or nailed into place
  3. Not a one-man/woman job
  4. Completely block natural light and visibility
  5. Have to store all the boards when not in use
  6. Visually unattractive option
  7. Not a permanent solution
hurricane eye
Hurricane warning. Tropical storm. Some elements of this image furnished by NASA

Before you can properly install plywood boards for storm damage protection, you’ll have to measure all your glass doors and windows to figure out how many sheets of plywood you’ll need.

Next, you have to measure and cut the boards themselves to ensure they fit properly. As you can probably already tell, this is going to be a pretty labor-intensive process.

Once you have all your boards cut and ready to install, you need to designate storage space to keep them when they’re not in use. Depending on how many windows and doors you have, the boards can take up a huge amount of room.

plywood over west elm glass doors
Image via https://www.orlandosentinel.com/

When it comes time to actually prepare your home for a storm, you’ll definitely need at least one other person to help you lift the boards over your glass and screw or nail them into place. This can take a while, so hopefully you have plenty of warning that a storm’s coming.

With the boards in place, you won’t be able to see anything out of your windows, and you’ll be relying completely on artificial light inside your property.

plywood boards for hurricane protection
Image via https://www.thv11.com/

From the outside, boards also hurt the curb appeal of your home or business. This may not be a big concern for homeowners, but if you’re a business owner and you want to stay open until the storm hits, it can be hard for potential clients to tell that you’re open for business.

Because of all of the above reasons, plywood boards simply aren’t a viable long-term solution for hurricane and storm damage protection. You’ll definitely want to take them down as soon as the storm has passed.

How to Protect Windows Without Plywood

5 Alternatives to Boarding up Windows for Hurricane and Storm Mitigation

  1. Hurricane Fabric
  2. Safety and Security Window Film
  3. Storm Panels
  4. Hurricane Shutters
  5. Laminated Security Glass

Hurricane Fabric: an Easy-to-Use Alternative

Think of hurricane fabric as a piece of bouncy fabric (like a trampoline) that you stretch over your window glass to deflect flying storm debris.

This deflective barrier is a popular alternative to plywood board ups because it’s much easier to install and remove — you just clip it into place over doors and windows before a storm. When the storm has passed, you simply unclip it and roll or fold it up to store.

Safety and Security Window Film: a Good Way to Strengthen Existing Glass

It’s important to note right away that security window film does not replace the strength of plywood and won’t stop glass from breaking when impacted by flying storm debris.

That being said, we’ve included it on this list because it does provide a layer of security to make your property safer.

This type of window film is a pliable Mylar coating that goes right on top of your existing glass and holds it in place if it shatters. This reduces the likelihood of injury caused by flying shards of glass as well as helps keep out water, wind, and storm debris that could cause more damage.

Storm Panels: a Commercial Alternative to Boarding up Windows

Storm panels are typically corrugated metal or plastic sheets that you attach to the framing or siding around doors and windows to protect the glass during a storm.

The concept is basically the same as boarding up your property, but this can be a more convenient option because you can get the panels pre-cut ahead of time for a custom fit.

Additionally, there are clear plastic storm panels available that still allow natural light into your home or business and don’t inhibit 100% of your view outside. They’re also much more attractive than plywood boards.

storm panels hurricane protection

Hurricane Shutters: an Attractive Permanent Solution

These are one of the more expensive alternatives to board ups, but also one of the most convenient and aesthetically pleasing options. For starters, you can choose between the following styles of hurricane shutters:

  • Accordion shutters
  • Roll-down hurricane shutters
  • Colonial-style louvered shutters
  • Bermuda shutters and Bahama shutters

No matter the style, hurricane shutters all get permanently mounted above or beside your windows and doors. When a storm is coming, all you have to do is lower them into place with a hand crank or the push of a button.

accordions against windows for hurricane
Image via https://www.shutterland.com/

Hurricane shutters blend in with — and can even complement — the architecture of your home or business.

Laminated Security Glass: an Invisible, Impact-Resistant Barrier

Last, but certainly not least, comes laminated security glass. This is a special type of security glass that consists of an impact-resistant thermoplastic interlayer sandwiched between two layers of strong glass.

Security glass laminates are becoming increasingly popular with coastal residents (especially in Florida) and residents of other Southeastern states because they look and feel like regular windows, but provide a high level of storm damage protection.

In some storms, the security glass may be a strong enough barrier to mitigate all damage. Even if a piece of storm debris does crack the glass, it can retain its shape and strength to keep protecting your home.


Now that you know more about how to protect windows without plywood, we hope you have an idea of what alternatives appeal to you.

It’s important to remember that not all storm damage mitigation barriers provide the same strength. But, with the right products and materials (or combination of products and materials), you’re sure to find a solution that suits you and your property.

We are authorized dealers of Riot Glass Window Security Laminates as well as Riot Glass® Laminated Security Glass. Contact us today or have your local glass contractor give us a call to discuss the products that would be best for retrofitting onto your home or business.

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