Hurricane Shutters - The Easy Way!

 

Just like living in Russia means lots of snow and bears (not really true since it's so huge and diverse, but we'll go with the stereotype for now) - living in Florida means dealing with heat, humidity, and sometimes hurricanes. We live in Central Florida, so the threat isn't as high as being right on the coast, but I never quite feel comfortable with exposed windows during the high winds. 

Here's a sattelite pic of 2017 when four hurricanes were present and Irma (the largest one) was about to make it's landfall on Florida, coming in hot with record winds and size. It was an "exciting" season and not in a good way.

Found on Googlez

I've prepped a house for hurricane before in 2004 when the 3 major storms came through - it involved plywood cutting (which is fine) and drilling through the plywood and into stucco to attach it to the house (not so fine). I didn't want to have to fix a bunch of holes in my house afterwards, especially if the hurricane would miss and I'd have drilled the house for nothing. 

All changed after I saw the hurricane clips somewhere (Plylox is the brand, but you can just punch in "hurricane clips" in Amazon or Googlez).

They attach over 1/2 or 3/4 inch sheets of plywood and let you just push the properly cut shutter into the window opening, as long as you have at least 1.5 or 2 inch inset - mine are mostly about 3 inches on a stucco over brick house, so I was good to go!

I already had bought a bunch of plywood right before Matthew hit, but didn't have time to make anything and the clips were all long out of stock in big box stores and I ordered them on Amazon a bit too late.

Luckily for us, Matthew skimmed the coast, but we didn't have any damage other than some minor small branches and the power was out for 5 days at our house. 

But determined not to get caught with my pants down again, shortly after I started on my shutters. 

Measured all the windows and started cutting and sanding.

The front of the house windows are larger than the plywood size at roughly 52 by 50 inches, so I cut an extra strip and screwed it together. 

Made sure to mark all the boards and mock it up on the house - it fit perfectly.

This step isn't critical, but I wanted to protect the plywood from the rain, so I painted the outer face of the panels with same exterior paint as the rest of the house. Personally I'm not a fan of unfinished plywood look, so aesthetically it was important to me. 

Test fitting on the house - all you have to do from here is to push them in and it's all set. The metal brackets dig into stucco and keep everything neat and tight. To take them out all you have to do is push the panel in a little further and pry the clip with a flat screwdriver - it's pretty easy (putting them on is easier however). 

That's pretty much that for the nice and easy hurricane shutters (not for coastal stuff though - I'd much prefer metal ones there). The rest is some pics on the house and aftermath of Irma in our neighbourhood.

For almost a year the panels sat neatly in my shed, until it was go time! Whenever it's time to move on - I figured the whole house set of shutters will be a nice bonus for the new owners, plus shows that we cared about our house (at least in my mind).

The day before the outer bands of Irma hit us with the rains - I "zombie proofed" the entire house. Took about 30 minutes - most of the time walking back and forth from the shed with the panels. Everything fit just right.

Pretty grim look. May be I should've picked a contrasting color? It's also very dark in the house, except in our sun room since we left the windows open there.

Back porch - I hid everything either in the shed or well under the cover - the windows under the cover I didn't bother boarding up. There was absolutely no wind there on the previous year and they're at least 10-12 feet away from where the roof ends. If any danger comes to them - at this point the entire house will be probably going anyways.

Before the storm hit I saw advice to get a little kiddie or doggie pool and fill it with sod, so that dogs can go potty without having to go outside, since the hurricane can last for 24 hours especially Irma's size (which was larger than entire Florida at some point). I left a table out and some chairs to watch the "show".

I saw the lifehack too late and ended up building my own, threw mulch into it (sod was all out at Home Depot) and dug up some grass out of back yard. Lined the plywood with heavy plastic before laying down the mulch and sod. Worked just fine, but much less elegant than a doggie pool.

A visitor during the storm.

Fortunately, we had no major damage - a few large branches, no power for almost a week and some rips in the pool screen. A much larger branch fell in the backyard onto the fence. 

I was very happy to have the shutters - all those branches are too close to comfort next to the windows.  

Power lines leaning. They're still like that to this day.

Overall our neighborhood was in pretty good shape, just debris everywhere. 

Only see empty shelves like that right after a hurricane. Russia looked a lot like that in the 90's.

It was awesome to see the communities come together and volunteers to come out and help whoever called and asked for it.

Some folks were less fortunate.

Elite hurricane clean up crew!

Hopefully we don't have any more "exciting" hurricanes for the next few years however. But if needed - the shutters are ready to be deployed on a short notice!