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DIY Storm Shutters: Are They Possible for Business Owners?

Written By: Brad CampbellFebruary 15, 2021

In order to save money on expensive commercial shutters and professional installations, many business owners look for ways they can secure their properties during a storm themselves.

While you won’t be able to build or install your own roll-down shutters or accordion shutters, you can create makeshift shutters out of plywood boards to protect your windows and doors. 

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to flip plywood boards open manually or at the push of a button. Once installed, they can only be removed again with the help of a power drill.

hand using screwdriver

How To Make Hurricane Shutters for Your Business

Build Your Own Hurricane Shutters from Plywood

Plywood hurricane shutters or storm panels are one of the most economic options when it comes to protecting your window glass during a tropical storm or hurricane. Below is a quick summary of the steps required to put them in place.

Steps To Board up Windows:

  1. Measure windows and doors
  2. Cut plywood to size
  3. Locate framing studs if your building is framed
  4. Screw plywood over windows into studs or concrete blocks

Measuring Doors and Windows

The first step to creating your own plywood shutters is to accurately measure all the windows and doors you need to cover. 

Use a tape measure to do so and record the measurements for each window and door as you go. For large windows and doors, you may want to get someone else to help you hold the tape measure and read measurements. 

If you have a large commercial property, it can also be helpful to draw a diagram of the building and write the measurements next to each window and door.

Cutting Plywood Sheets

After you measure, it’s time to make your plywood storm panels. To get started, buy enough 4×8 sheets of 5/8-inch exterior-grade plywood to cover all your doors and windows.

Use a power saw to cut each plywood sheet to 7 inches wider and 7 inches longer than the door or window it needs to cover. This allows for a 3-4-inch overhang on all sides for securing the panels to the surrounding surface of the building.

ear muff headphones in board with saw behind it

If you don’t have the tools to cut the boards yourself, you can get them pre-cut to your specifications at a home improvement center or lumber yard.

Finding Framing Studs

Next, you’ll want to locate the framing studs to secure your DIY storm panels to around each window and door, provided your property is wood-framed.

Use a stud finder to find the closest stud on each side of every window, as well as the studs above and below the windows. For doors, just find the studs on the sides and above the door. 

Measure the distance of the studs from the edges of windows and doors and record the measurements to help you install the boards in the next step.

Installing Plywood Storm Panels

Measure and mark the location of the studs on the surface of each plywood panel, so you know  where to put screws.

Have a helper or two hold the boards up over the glass and use a power drill to drive 2.5-inch wood screws through the plywood into the studs below. It’s very important to make sure the screws all go into studs to really secure the boards in place.

If your building is a concrete block or masonry structure, the installation process is a little different. You don’t have to find studs and worry about screwing the boards into them.

Instead, drill at least 10 holes into the concrete or masonry around each window, 2-3 inches away from the edge of the window. 

Put 3-inch hanger bolts into each hole, drill holes in the corresponding locations on each plywood sheet, and secure the boards over the bolts with washers and wing nuts.


Things You’ll Need to Make Plywood Storm Panels:

  • Tape measure
  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper
  • Power saw
  • Power drill
  • 5/8-inch exterior-grade plywood

Some Disadvantages of DIY Storm Shutters for Businesses

Now that you have an idea of what goes into boarding up your business before a storm, you can see how labor intensive it is, which is an obvious disadvantage of the method. 

When you want to remove the panels, you have to do the whole process in reverse, then find a place to store everything while it’s not in use.

Because of these facts, DIY storm shutters are often just not practical for large commercial buildings.

Alternatives to Building Storm Shutters

Is There Such a Thing as a DIY Storm Window?

If plywood storm shutters won’t work for your business, there is another alternative to professional hurricane shutter installation: impact windows.

Hurricane impact windows do require professional installation, but you can have any local glass contractor install them and they are a very cost-effective solution.

We highly recommend choosing ArmorPlast® AP25 to our clients in Florida and other coastal areas of the Southeastern United States. 

AP25 is a containment-grade polycarbonate glazing shield that fits over your existing glass to protect your commercial facility against storm damage and other threats, 24/7. It provides the durable strength of hurricane shutters without altering the outward appearance of your glass.

armorplast graphic

Benefits of AP25 Polycarbonate Storm Panels:

  • Virtually unbreakable
  • Crystal-clear appearance
  • Glass-like surface hardness
  • One-time installation
  • Adds UV resistance
  • 24/7 protection against storm damage
  • Barrier to forced entry, burglary, and smash-and-grab theft
  • Protects glass from rioting, looting, and vandalism

Unlike storm shutters, AP25 won’t block out natural light, reduce visibility, or hurt the curb appeal of your business. 

Image via

boarded up doors beneath "sweetgreen" sign

You also won’t have to worry about putting boards in place every time a hurricane watch is issued, only to take them down again when the storm passes or fails to even hit your area.

If you're only interested in regular storm shutters, QMI offers great solutions for businesses.

Final Words

We hope you’ve gained a better idea of the possibility of DIY storm shutters for your business.

Contact us today or have your local glass contractor give us a call to discuss ArmorPlast® AP25 as an alternative solution to hurricane mitigation for your property.

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Looking for residential protection? At Riot Glass, we specialize in protecting your property with our patented bullet-resistant system, designed specifically for aluminium framed windows. Not sure if Riot Glass is right for your home? Explore our FAQs.
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