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1/6/13

Something useful from Doomsday Preppers

I haven't watched any of the new season of Doomsday Preppers, but they had a marathon last week so I Tivo'd a few and watched them over the week. Mostly the same as last season...

BUT, I did see one idea that I thought was worth stealing/sharing. It's a method for attaching plywood to hardened windows on a suburban home, seen in episode 3. Frickin' genius, if you ask me...

The whole episode is currently up on YouTube, and the segment I'm talking about appears at about 5:40 into the video. Click here to watch it.

Quick description: the window is opened, and a long bolt fed in through a hole in the pre-cut plywood and then through a 2x4 cross brace on the interior of the home. Tightened the bolt down and you're good to go. They're using 3/4 inch plywood and, in Doomsday Preppers style, spend some time trying to smash through it. Not bullet proof, but it will certainly slow someone from getting into a home and provide concealment, too.

Here's a few pictures to give you an idea of how it works in case the YouTube link goes down:
Pre-cut plywood, hole, bolt passed through.
Open window, bolt on the other side, horizontal cross brace moved into place. 
Tighten down the bolt and move onto the next window.
They claim to be able to do the entire first floor of the house in 30 minutes, which isn't too shabby.



Normally, I've seen plywood attached with screws around the edges into the studs - which is not only going to leave holes all around all of your windows, but is going to take a while to install on your house. Here's a picture to give you an idea:

The "Doomsday Preppers method" is going to be much faster, doesn't require permanent alteration/damage to your home, and should be more secure, too.



Certainly, 3/4 inch plywood is not bullet proof and a determined attacker could get through given enough time. BUT, much better than a bare window against an angry mob or zombie hordes. Should also do a pretty good job of keeping any light inside your home.

I'm pretty sure you would lose more heat via the plywood over a modern window, and that's a trade off that would need to be worthwhile.

But, in general, a really solid way to harden up the average suburban home fairly quickly and fairly inexpensively, without altering the home in any way. Something we'll be doing when we settle somewhere a bit more permanent.

Anyone seen/done this before? Thoughts, experiences? Let me know!

22 comments :

  1. I just pre-drilled for tapcons every 18" around windows and back-filled with caulk. Biggest problem with tapcons is you can't install and uninstall but two or maybe three times. Then you'll need to redrill to the next larger size.

    If you wife doesn't object, you could drill and epoxy threaded rods into the brick. It's a more "robust" installation, but remains visible. Use stainless to prevent rust.

    All plywood is precut and labeled. For extra strength on the most vunerable windows, I have materials to construct a 2x2 frame across the inside of the plywood between the plywood and window.

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  2. I wonder what will happen when it rains? I imagine if you have to do this, that rain would be one of the least of your worries.

    This is a good option for renters as well. Not too sure the landlord would want me drilling holes in the house, but this could be prepped, and placed to the side, ready for when needed.

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    1. You don't have to drill ANY part of the house.... just the wood... did you not read?

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  3. I've never seen that before either - cool! I live in 'hurricane country' and the use of Pylocks and plywood sheets has been used several times with no ill effects on our home windows.

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  4. Clever. Now, any suggestions about a very large sliding glass door? There is way too much glass in my house.

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  5. Read about exact same construction in zombie novel written by Andrey Cruz.

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  6. Carriage bolts would make it less accessible from the outside. As for heat loss, one could use plastic on the inside to make an air space.

    Plywood is great, but what about rolling shutters?
    http://www.rolladenlv.com/

    Already in place, are closed from the inside of the house (no need to go out and show people what you're doing), and allow the windows to be closed (insulating). In the desert, people use them as a way to keep the heat at bay, while in hurricane prone areas they are used in place of plywood. I imagine they'd work great for tornadoes too.

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    Replies
    1. Storm shutters are certainly preferable, but they are not cheap!

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  7. Would painting the plywood with fire retardant paint or varnish be overkill?

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  8. Plywood, staple down some thick chicken wire mesh on the inside, plastic sheeting on the outside that folds onto the inside (you can also cover the inside and fill it with insulation), and I would use toggle bolts to secure it to the brace on the inside. Grid some strapping to strengthen it.

    You could also use aluminum siding or sheet metal instead of chicken wire. If you have leftover siding you can put it on the outside to match the house and blend in a little more.

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  9. In Colorado it's too cold for this, even with plastic. In a SHTF scenario I don't care about holes in the window trim, I hope nobody else does either.

    3/4" Plywood inside with a few screws, and 2 bars would make it amazingly hard for anyone to get in. The bars would prevent the wood from flexing.

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    Replies
    1. Certainly, there are other methods with their own advantages. This is fast to put up, even without power tools. A dozen or so boards with a dozen or so screws each is going to take longer to put up, especially w/o power tools...and you're unlikely to practice it prior to trouble.

      Insulation could be figured out, and in winter time, it's generally wise to close off most of your home and live in one heated room/area anyways.

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  10. I am with you Max don't , this may be a good idea if the weather is moderate and IF you want to advertise that you have something valuable to protect behind those boarded up windows. I have 3/4 in plywood cut to the inside demensions of my windows and they sit on the bottom sill and have two 2x4's to put up on the inside and then screw 5 inch lag bolts into the frame around the window. That way the vertical blinds stay on the outside and it looks like the house is abandoned. Yes it does expose the windows to breakage but I can lower the window inside and shoot thru the plywood if needed. I also have 2x6's cut to brace the garage doors on the inside also, most people don't think of the garage doors but they are really the weakest link to getting into your home.

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  11. Good stuff. One of the most impressive things in my opinion was how fast they were able to get them set up in the house. I think they had all of the relevant ground level windows in 30 minutes flat or so.

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  12. Really awesome and super simple idea. If heat loss was a concern you could stock up on some cheap insulation--the pink crap they put in walls. Not sure how much that stuff is but you probably could get in on the cheap if you look around. You wouldn't need that much--just enough to take up the area of a window. And you could even store in your walls. Just stuff a little extra in there in addition to what you already have.

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  13. What about adding installation to the back/inside of the plywood? Using the foam pad kind you could cut down on the cold, the only problem I would see would be bulky to store and more cost, but it would be just as defensive and probably cut the cold

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  14. Being that I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast (Galveston) and storms were always a concern, my dad had a similar setup for our house. He had threaded bolts in each corner of the window frame and pre-cut plywood, with a slot cut out in the middle to equalize the pressure and also to double as a handle when installing. We had them all numbered and simply used wingnuts to secure them. They worked great until they had 5' of water break down the doors and flood the house with them inside during the last bad one (Ike). I did see the DP episode and I did like how they worked on the show.

    -Rug

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  15. I thought the same thing about the window idea. The only problem with our house is we have crank-out style windows. They are great for locking out the cold weather but I have not figured out a good way to do the same thing with the plywood.

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  16. A little bit of loctite when you put the bolt off and you don't need to worry about anyone being able to undue from the outside. When ready to remove, simply use a dremel with a cutting blade or disk grinder to quickly remove them.

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  17. my only issue to this is fire danger... how would you get out of your house if there is a fire ? i understand all this preppers stuff, but we also have to think about the normal stuff that can happen after you board yourself up in your home..

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    Replies
    1. In that situation you would just go out the front, back, or garage door. Your doors should be secure but always able to dismantle and exit quickly if need be.

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  18. Good idea. It makes me think of the scene in The Outlaw Josey Wales where they boarded themselves in that little cabin and each of the boards had a cross cut in the center of it so they could stick a rifle barrel out. Up, down, left, right...

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