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Is Plywood Enough to Protect Your Home from A Hurricane?

February 9, 2023

Plywood Hurricane Shutters

Plywood is a wood panel made from thin sheets of wood veneer, used in construction as a lightweight, versatile building material. The thickness of plywood can range from 1/8 inch to 1 1/4 inches, with the most common thicknesses being 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch.

Plywood is generally not strong enough to withstand a hurricane’s high winds and flying debris. The wind speeds in a typical hurricane can reach 150 mph or more, while the winds in a severe storm can exceed 200 mph. These wind speeds can easily break plywood, or pull it away from the building, especially if the plywood is not correctly installed.

In addition, plywood is less durable than other materials, such as impact-resistant windows and reinforced doors. Impact-resistant windows are made from laminated glass and are specifically designed to withstand flying debris’s impact without breaking. Reinforced doors are made from heavy-duty materials such as steel or fiberglass and are designed to withstand high winds and prevent the door from being blown in.

The Devastation of Hurricanes

In Florida, the risk of a hurricane is a very real risk. The 2017 hurricane season was a stark reminder of that. After Irma left a trail of destruction throughout the state, several other hurricane threats occurred. Homes that didn’t have protection from Irma suffered millions of dollars in damage. The rain found a way in if the high winds didn’t batter homes.

In addition to the damage, there was also the stress of hurricane season. Homeowners endlessly worried whether or not the hurricane would destroy their homes. But for some homeowners, the stress was not as great. When a home has proper hurricane protection, there isn’t as much fear. Hurricane impact windows and doors keep homes protected from the damage that comes with hurricanes.

Unfortunately, not all homes have the protection that they need. Some people resort to plywood hurricane shutters to protect their homes. Plywood hurricane shutters don’t provide the protection that your home needs. They can hurt your home more than they help it.

The Danger of Using Plywood to Protect Your Home

You might think some type of hurricane protection is better than no protection. That may not be true. If your home has no impact windows or hurricane shutters, you could be tempted to use plywood shutters. However, that could be a big mistake. Plywood is not strong enough to withstand a hurricane. The plywood could pull away from the bolts and nails fastened to it in high winds. Then, it could fly away and damage your home or a neighbor’s home. By adding to the hurricane debris, your plywood shutters could cause serious destruction.

Another plywood risk is the time it takes to install. If you want to cover your windows with plywood, then it takes a significant time commitment. First, you need to go to the stores and buy the plywood. While this might not sound like much, it could be challenging when a hurricane is about to hit. Often, stores sell out of plywood. Even if they have some in stock, waiting in line to purchase the wood could take hours.

After you purchase the plywood, you need to install it. This requires tools and takes time. Instead of preparing for the hurricane by getting gas, food, and water, you must prepare your plywood hurricane shutters. You could be unprepared for the hurricane because you spent too much time preparing your home.

Broken Windows

If you don’t have protection for your windows, then flying debris could easily break them. This causes more damage than you might imagine. During a hurricane, the atmospheric pressure outside your home is high. After a window breaks, the high-pressure air has its way into the low-pressure air of your home. The result can be devastating.

On top of the wind damage, there is also water damage. Even small cracks in your windows can lead to water damage. As pouring rain enters your home, it could damage the structural integrity of your home. It can also damage your belongings. In the long term, it can cause mold growth. Broken windows are dangerous, and plywood shutters don’t protect you from them.

An Alternative to Plywood

Instead of relying on plywood for protection, you can rely on impact windows or shutters. When a hurricane is about to hit, you don’t need to worry about preparing your windows. The work is already done. The process is complete if you install the new windows or shutters before a hurricane. Because impact windows can handle the force of a hurricane, they need no hurricane preparation. It gives you one less thing to think about as you prepare for a hurricane.

In addition to the time-saving factor, impact windows offer excellent protection. The windows are made in a way that makes them unlikely to shatter. Instead of a single pane of glass, there are two layers of glass with a layer in between. If the exterior layer breaks, then the window will not shatter. This prevents debris from destroying windows and allowing water and high winds into your home.

Hurricane windows undergo an extensive testing process that gives your home the highest level of protection. During testing, the impact windows must withstand high winds and flying debris. You can rest easy knowing that your windows can handle a hurricane.

Getting Help

If you want hurricane windows and doors or shutters, then now is the time to install them. Contact us at Wright’s Impact Window and Door. Learn how we can help you protect your home from a hurricane.

Overall, while plywood can provide some level of protection for your home during a hurricane, it is not sufficient to fully protect your home from the full force of a hurricane. It is essential to use a combination of permanent, sturdy materials and evacuation plans to protect your home and ensure your and your family’s safety.

Jason Southard
VP Sales & Marketing at Wrights Impact Window & Door LLC | Website | + posts

Jason joined Wrights in 2018, and leverages decades of experience as a business leader in both B2C and B2B markets, with a wealth of experience in marketing, management, and technology. Before joining Wrights, Jason had significant Client, Consulting, and Agency experience from blue chips to start-ups – working across national and global roles. Originally from the UK, Jason has executive education from the London School of Economics and Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.

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