What Are the Pros and Cons of Boarded Up Windows?

By November 7, 2022 September 21st, 2023 Blog

Boarded up windows are a tried-and-true method of securing your business during civil unrest and storms.

But, as with all window security solutions, boarding up your windows has pros and cons that you should be aware of.

The next time you’re thinking about protecting your windows, consider these advantages and disadvantages — there might be a better solution for you!

Pros and Cons of Boarded up Windows

People often turn to plywood board ups as a way to secure their properties in a pinch for one simple reason: they work.

When installed properly, plywood boards create a solid barrier over your glass, preventing it from breaking due to impacts.

The two main scenarios when you might need to board up a storefront with little notice are when a strong windstorm or hurricane is on the way and there’s the threat of storm damage, and when civil unrest flares up and there’s a risk of rioting and looting.

In the event of a strong storm, plywood boards do a pretty good job of protecting windows from flying storm debris. And, in the case of civil unrest, boarded up windows and doors are protected from vandalism and keep looters out of your business.

Pros of boarded up windows:

  • Protect glass from breaking
  • Prevent storm damage
  • Secure buildings against rioting and looting
  • Materials are easy to acquire

Although board ups can be an effective way to fortify storefront glass, they also have many disadvantages that make boarding up windows an impractical solution.

For starters, depending on how many glass doors and windows you have, you may need a very large number of plywood boards to cover them all. These all need to be purchased, measured, cut, and stored ahead of time.

When it’s time to actually board up your property, it’s a very labor intensive and time consuming process.

In the case of civil unrest, you may not have a lot of warning, which could lead to a poorly done last minute board up that doesn’t fully secure your building.

If a storm or hurricane warning is issued, you want to board up windows well ahead of time, which means that you’re likely to be operating your business for some period of time while it is boarded up.

Unfortunately, board ups make buildings look closed and uninviting, which could have a negative impact on your business. They also block out natural light and seriously reduce visibility, which further affect working conditions and your customers’ experience.

Lastly, plywood board ups are not a permanent solution — you have to take down the boards when a threat has passed, store them, and go through the whole process all over again the next time a storm hits or civil unrest occurs.

Cons of boarded up windows:

  • Require lots of plywood boards
  • Boards need to be cut and stored ahead of time
  • Labor intensive and time consuming installation
  • Make businesses look closed
  • Block natural light
  • Reduce visibility
  • Not a permanent solution

What Alternatives to Boarded up Windows Are There?

If you don’t want to deal with all the downsides of boarded up windows mentioned above, you’re probably looking for alternatives to boarding up your windows.

In order to achieve the same level of security, you need something other than boards to create a physical barrier over your windows and doors.

Things like roll-down hurricane shutters and storm panels are popular alternatives to plywood boards for storm damage protection, but they can have some of the same disadvantages as boards.

Roll down shutters can serve as robust protectors for retail stores, shielding them from extensive damage during hurricanes by preventing flying debris and high winds from penetrating windows and doors, but they can block out light, and reduce visibility; and storm panels are basically just fancy boards that you have to store, manually install before a storm, and remove afterwards.

Traditional forced entry prevention solutions, like bars and grates, may keep criminals out of your property during a riot, but they’re unsightly and simply don’t work for many types of businesses, such as luxury retail stores with large glass storefronts.

Fortunately, there’s a far better alternative to boarded up windows that provides a permanent solution for any type of commercial property: polycarbonate glazing shields.

Polycarbonate glazing shields, such as ArmorPlast® AP25 by Riot Glass, LLC out of Huntington Beach, California, can be retrofitted over your existing glass, creating an invisible and virtually unbreakable barrier over it. In other words, polycarbonate security glazing fortifies your property, without making it look fortified.

Retrofit security glazing solutions are far more cost-effective than other methods of securing your doors and windows, as you don’t typically have to replace any of your existing framing or glass.

Retrofitting polycarbonate glazing shields on your property is also much faster and less disruptive than window replacement. Plus, unlike boarding up windows, you only have to do it once!

After it’s installed, polycarbonate security glazing protects you and your business against a full range of security threats, including storm damage, rioting and looting, vandalism, forced entry, burglary, active threats, and more.

Benefits of using polycarbonate as an alternative to boarding up windows:

  • One-time installation
  • 24/7 protection
  • Permanent solution
  • Virtually unbreakable
  • Doesn’t block natural light, inhibit visibility, or significantly change the appearance of your property
  • Can be retrofitted
  • Cost effective

How much does a polycarbonate security glazing retrofit cost?

The cost of retrofitting polycarbonate glazing shields varies greatly from project to project.

It depends on many factors, including the size and number of windows and doors you want to protect, the complexity of installation, and the specific type of polycarbonate glazing you choose.

For instance, bullet-resistant polycarbonate glazing is more expensive than containment-grade, or non-ballistic, polycarbonate glazing.

Even though a single plywood board up is cheaper than retrofitting your property with polycarbonate glazing shields, the lifetime value you get from a retrofit security glazing solution makes it a far more worthy investment.

Boarding up a single window can cost in the hundreds of dollars — now multiply that by how many windows and doors you need to protect.

You could invest this money in a permanent solution instead, which will protect your business against all types of threats, including forced entry and burglary.

Be Fortified, without Looking Fortified

Are you ready to ditch the boarded up windows for good?

Campbell Glass and Films is an authorized dealer and installer of ArmorPlast® security glazing solutions.

Contact us today for a free consultation.