The Correct Way
To Perform Window Boarding
For Vacant Properties In Foreclosure

Most instructions for window boarding on the Internet show how to board-up a house to protect it from damage caused by high winds. The purpose for boarding a window on a foreclosed property is different than it is for hurricane preparation. Therefore, the method of boarding a window on a vacant property is different in several respects.

The purpose for boarding a window, door, or any other accessible opening on a vacant house that is in foreclosure, is to secure the property. So if you discover any openings through which someone could gain access to the interior of any enclosed building on the property, you need to alert the bank, and bid to board it.

What Are Accessible Openings (AO)?

By far the most frequent need for boarding occurs with a broken window. Boarding pet openings might be second. Doors that that have been broken or removed need to be boarded as well. These include both man doors and overhead doors. On rare occasions, you might find a hole in the exterior wall of a building that needs to be boarded.

Brace & Bolt Window Boarding

The property preservation / REO industry employs a method of boarding that is called brace & bolt window boarding. So, rather than simply screw a board onto the outside of the house, the plywood (never OSB) is attached only by means of carriage bolts and 2x4s. No screws are used, and no damage is done to the exterior or interior of the house. This also provides additional security, since someone cannot simply unscrew the plywood and gain access.

Here's how you do brace & bolt window boarding:
     • Take an exterior before photo.
     • Remove and dispose of all of the broken glass. (This includes glass in the frame as well as on the floor/ground.)
     • Measure and cut 1/2" plywood to cover the entire window opening. (Never board only a portion of the window opening, even if there are intact, unbroken panes still in place.)
     • Remove unbroken sliding panes to a closet, or move them to the center of the window opening so you can position four bolts near the four corners.
     • Cut two 2x4s long enough to extend about 6" beyond the interior window opening.
     • Measure/line up and drill holes in the plywood and 2x4s for four 3/8" carriage bolts. (Drill 3/8" holes in the plywood and 1/2" holes in the 2x4s.)
     • Place the 3/8" carriage bolts into the plywood, and from the interior of the building, move the plywood to the outside, holding onto the bolts from the inside. While holding the plywood tight against the exterior, install the braces, one hole at a time, threading a washer and nut on each bolt. (Doing it from the interior enables one person to board a window by himself, even from a second story window --no ladder is necessary.)
     • After each bolt has been tightened, take after photos from both the exterior and interior.

Before & After Photos

Boarding Other Accessible Openings

Door and window boarding openings larger than 48"x48"
Use 6" wide length of plywood to screw together two pieces that will cover the opening. Screw the pieces together from the interior side of the plywood.

Pet doors
Even though the opening is small, always use two braces and four bolts. If the pet door is in a man door, use shorter bolts, so the door will still open.

Man doors
Use 5/8" plywood to board single door openings and french door openings. You may need to use more than two braces to board larger openings.

Overhead doors
Using a concrete drill, concrete screws, and an impact driver, install a 2x4 on the floor, full length of the opening. Install 2x4 verticals at least every four feet. If the opening is too large to bolt board, use screws that require a star driver (for greater security) to screw 3/4" plywood into the 2x4 framework you've built.

Other Window Boarding Notes

If you purchase a supply of 12" x 3/8" carriage bolts that have full thread, you're ready for most every thickness of exterior walls, including frames.

If the sliding pane is broken and the fixed pane is intact, you have two choices:
     1) break out and remove all of the glass in the fixed pane; or
     2) secure the plywood that covers the entire window with four bolts that are extending only through sliding pane opening.

If you are asked perform door and window boarding on a house that has experienced fire damage that is significant enough to make bolt boarding the from the inside dangerous, bid to screw the plywood on the exterior of the house using star-drive (security) screws.

In addition to window boarding, you need to look for any active roof leaks.