The Essential Guide to Plywood Hurricane Shutters in Wilmington

For residents of Wilmington, the threat of hurricanes is a yearly concern. The combination of high winds, torrential rains, and the potential for severe property damage makes it imperative for homeowners to take proactive measures in protecting their homes. Among the various options available, plywood hurricane shutters stand out as a cost-effective and reliable solution. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of plywood hurricane shutters, their importance, and how to ensure they offer the maximum protection for your home in Wilmington.

Understanding Plywood Hurricane Shutters

Plywood hurricane shutters are a popular choice for storm protection due to their affordability and effectiveness. Unlike their metal or polycarbonate counterparts, plywood shutters are easily accessible and can be prepared with minimal advance notice. However, not all plywood shutters are created equal, and understanding their specifications is crucial for ensuring they serve their intended purpose.

Benefits of Plywood Shutters

Plywood shutters offer several advantages, including cost-efficiency and ease of installation. They are particularly appealing for homeowners looking for a temporary but sturdy solution to protect their windows and doors during a hurricane. Additionally, when properly installed, plywood shutters can significantly reduce the risk of damage from flying debris, one of the primary causes of property damage during storms.

Another advantage of plywood shutters is their versatility. They can be cut to fit any window or door size, making them a suitable option for homes with non-standard openings. This customizability ensures that every vulnerable point of your home can be adequately protected.

Choosing the Right Plywood

Not all plywood is suitable for use as hurricane shutters. The recommended thickness for plywood shutters is at least 5/8 inch, as thinner boards may not provide sufficient protection against strong winds and flying debris. It is also essential to select plywood that has been treated to withstand moisture, as exposure to rain can cause untreated plywood to warp and lose its structural integrity.

When purchasing plywood for hurricane shutters, it’s important to look for exterior-grade plywood. This type of plywood is designed to withstand environmental elements and is more durable than interior-grade options. Investing in the right plywood ensures that your shutters will be as effective as possible in protecting your home.

Installation and Preparation Tips

Proper installation is key to maximizing the effectiveness of plywood hurricane shutters. Even the highest quality plywood will not offer adequate protection if not installed correctly. Here are some tips to ensure your plywood shutters are prepared and installed properly.

Measuring and Cutting

Accurate measurements are crucial for creating effective plywood shutters. Measure each window and door that will be covered, adding an extra 4 inches on each side to ensure the plywood fully covers the openings. This extra margin helps to protect against wind-driven rain and debris. When cutting the plywood, use a circular saw for precision, and always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from sawdust and debris.

Label each piece of plywood according to the window or door it is meant to cover. This will save time during installation, especially if a storm is approaching quickly. Proper labeling also helps in storing the shutters for future use, making it easier to identify the correct piece for each opening.

Securing the Shutters

There are several methods for securing plywood shutters to your home. One effective approach is to use heavy-duty barrel bolts. Install the bolts around the perimeter of the window or door frame, and drill corresponding holes in the plywood. This method allows for quick installation and removal of the shutters.

Another option is to use plywood clips, which are specifically designed for attaching plywood shutters to the exterior of a home. These clips are easy to install and provide a secure hold, ensuring that the shutters remain in place even under strong winds.

Maintenance and Storage

After a storm has passed, proper maintenance and storage of your plywood shutters are essential for ensuring they remain in good condition for future use. Here are some tips for maintaining and storing your shutters.

Cleaning and Drying

Before storing your plywood shutters, it’s important to clean them thoroughly to remove any dirt, debris, or salt residue. Use a mild detergent and water to clean both sides of each shutter. After cleaning, allow the shutters to dry completely in a well-ventilated area to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Store your plywood shutters in a dry, cool place to prevent warping and deterioration. If possible, stack the shutters flat to maintain their shape and protect them from damage. Consider labeling the storage area for easy access when the next storm approaches.

Regular Inspection

It is advisable to conduct regular inspections of your plywood shutters to check for any signs of wear, damage, or pest infestations. Look for any warping, cracks, or water damage that may compromise the integrity of the shutters. Address any issues promptly to ensure that your shutters are ready for use when needed.

Enhancing Plywood Shutters

While plywood shutters are a practical choice for storm protection, there are ways to enhance their performance further. One option is to apply a weatherproof sealant to the plywood to increase its resistance to moisture and prolong its lifespan. Additionally, reinforcing the plywood with metal bracing or anchors can provide added strength against high winds.

Consider painting your plywood shutters with a high-quality exterior paint to improve their durability and weather resistance. Choose a paint color that complements your home’s exterior for a more aesthetically pleasing look. Regularly maintaining the paint finish can help protect the plywood from UV damage and extend its longevity.

Alternative Materials

While plywood is a popular choice for hurricane shutters, there are alternative materials available that offer different benefits. For homeowners seeking a more permanent solution, metal or polycarbonate shutters may be worth considering. These materials provide increased durability and may require less maintenance compared to plywood.

Another alternative is fabric hurricane screens, which offer transparency and airflow while still providing protection against high winds and flying debris. Fabric screens can be installed easily and are lightweight, making them a convenient option for homeowners looking for a versatile storm protection solution.


Protecting your home against the destructive forces of hurricanes is a top priority for residents of Wilmington. Plywood hurricane shutters offer a cost-effective and reliable means of safeguarding your property during storm season. By understanding the benefits of plywood shutters, choosing the right materials, and following proper installation and maintenance practices, homeowners can enhance the protection of their homes and ensure peace of mind when severe weather strikes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top