Property Preservation: Boarding Windows & Doors

Ensure you follow HUD guidelines when boarding windows and doors. In some situations, you may require written approval in advance of blocking windows and doors. The circumstances in which it is usually appropriate to board a property are as follows:

  • If the property has been seriously damaged by excess water, a fire or any natural disaster.
  • There are ongoing safety issues that need to be addressed.
  • The property is located in an area in which vandalism is common, and boarding represents the most appropriate means of securing the property.
  • The property is located in an area in which boarding is pre-approved.

If boarding is approved, ensure that all first and ground floor windows, including the basement, are covered with a strong plywood covering that adheres to the specifications outlined below. The board should cover the entire frame and window and should be secured in place with carriage bolts. Ensure these bolts are placed in a manner that does not represent a health and safety risk.

If there are any security bars on the windows or they are too small for someone to climb through them to access the property, they do not need to be boarded up.

You do not need to board up the windows above the first floor unless these can be accessed without the use of a ladder or from an adjacent property, and the window is large enough for someone to climb through. Any windows that don’t need to be boarded should be fully secured.

Remove any broken glass from around windows and doors.

If the local codes differ from the HUD regulations, follow the local codes.

Materials Used For Property Preservation Boarding

Boarded house

  • 1/2″ Plywood for windows
  • 3/4″ or 5/8″ Plywood for doorways
  • 2″ x 4″ studs
  • 3/8″ or 1/2″ x 12″ long Round-Headed Carriage Bolts
  • 3/8″ or 1/2″ Nuts for the Carriage Bolts
  • 3/8″ or 1/2″ Washers

Window Boarding Diagram

Window boarding diagram

Window boarding diagram 2

Door Boarding Diagram

Door Boarding Diagram

Los Angeles: Diagram Showing Installation of Security Screens

Security Screen Instructions 1

Security Screen Instructions 1

Videos Showing How To Board Windows and Doors

FHA Attachment Regarding Boarding Requirements and Nationwide Price Schedule

Mortgagees should not board a property unless they have prior written approval from the M&M contractor, and/or:

  • The property is severely damaged by fire, flood or other natural disaster;
  • The property should be secured for safety reasons;
  • The property is in a high vandalism area and boarding is the only reasonable means to protect the security of the property;
  • The property is located in a pre-approved boarding area.

When boarding is appropriate, all first floor windows and doors and all basement windows and doors should have plywood covering the entire opening and frame.  The covering should be secured with carriage bolts.  Eliminate any health and safety hazard caused by any protruding bolts used to secure boarding.  The use of nails is prohibited.  The cost of boarding properties is not included in the maximum allowable limit per property.  Before and after photographs are required.  HUD will not reimburse the Mortgagee for unauthorized boarding.  Mortgagees should request prior written approval from the M&M contractor if the cost of securing a severely damaged property exceeds $550.

There should be no boarding above the first floor unless entry is possible without use of a ladder, and the opening is large enough for a person to easily pass through.  Openings above the first floor that do not meet this test should be secured but not boarded.  Second story and higher openings are typically accessible only from attached properties, stairwells or fire escapes.  If security bars are located on windows/doors, boarding is not required.  Openings too small for a person to pass through, particularly pet openings in doors, should be secured but not boarded.  To ensure that no hazards exist, remove all broken glass from the windows and surrounding interior and exterior areas.

All properties should be boarded in accordance with local codes.  If local codes differ from HUD requirements herein, local codes supersede.

For the purpose of this document, the definition of united inch is length plus width.

I. Specifications for Plywood Boarding

  1. Exterior plywood should be of un-sanded CDX grade.
  2. Plywood thickness should be 1/2” for window openings, 5/8” for door openings and 3/4” for sliding door and French door openings.  When extra large window openings are encountered use 5/8” or 3/4” as necessary.
  3. All holes should be drilled to accommodate bolts.  The holes in the top of the plywood should be 12” down from the top and 20% of the width of the plywood cover, in from the side.
  4. The holes in the bottom should be 25% of the height of the plywood, up from the bottom and the same distance in from the side as the top.
  5. Carriage bolts mated with nuts and two three inch flat washers as shown in the side view.  Washers to be of sufficient size to fully accept the square portion of bolt beneath the head.  Bolt and mating hardware may be galvanized or cadmium plated.  3/8” x 12” bolts should be supplied with each 2’8’ door, 3’0” door, and glass sliding door cover.  3/8 x 10” bolts should be supplied with the rest.
  6. 2” x 4” lumber should be graded and should be a minimum of 16” longer than the width of the plywood cover.  (Note:  2x4s will be drilled with 1/2” diameter holes that line up with the holes in the plywood covers.)
  7. All windows and doors, except the front door, through which access to the interior of the dwelling is made, should be secured.  All window boards will be cut to fit inside the concrete block or brick opening with a maximum 1/8” clearance.  THE PLYWOOD COVERING SHOULD BE OF ONE CONTINUOUS PIECE WHEN POSSIBLE.
  8. All fabricated parts and ancillary materials become property of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  9. All coverings are to be fabricated according to the attached drawing and specifications.

II. Boarding Windows

  1. Except as noted below, all window sashes, frames, glass and hardware are to be undamaged by the boarding installation.
  2. All screen inserts are to be removed, marked as to location and stored in a convenient closet or in the utility room.
  3. In all cases where it is possible to adjust the position of the sashes to accommodate the specifications for boarding above, the sashes are to remain in the frame.
  4. In instances wherein the sashes cannot be adjusted to accommodate the boarding specifications above, the sashes are to be removed from the frames and stored in a convenient closet or in the utility room.  This includes all stationary lights secured by stops.
  5. In cases wherein the sash cannot be removed and/or the frame is permanently built into the house and cannot be removed (i.e., Fenestra windows) it will be necessary to break the corner panes to accommodate the boarding and bolts.  If the location of bolt holes, in the plywood, requires modification because of the muntin bar (a small bar that divides a windows glass), these locations are to be modified.  In no case, in any type of window, is any sash or frame part to be damaged.
  6. In all instances where items should be removed from the frame and stored, the items should be clearly marked as to the area from which it was removed.
  7. All items are to be stored on edge and braced to prevent accidental tipping, sliding, etc.  In no instance is any item to be stored laid flat.
  8. Hinged windows are to be completely removed from the frame and stored as stated in (7) above.  If possible the hinge pins are to be removed and remain with the removed item.
  9. Faced nailing of panels to wood frame windows is prohibited

Local Variations from General Requirements

ATLANTA Homeownership Center

Install cloth screening.  Cloth screen first floor openings in zip codes:
60429           60426           60411           60466           60477           60443

Screening of wood windows is accomplished by framing the window with 2x2s.  The screening is stapled over the frame and fastened with 1×2 furring laths.

Chicago, Illinois
Install Plywood boarding in the following pre-approved Chicago zip code areas following the Chicago boarding requirements below.

60608           60609           60610           60612           60615           60616
60617           60619           60620           60085           60621           60622
60623           60624           60627           60628           60636           60637
60643           60644           60649           60651           60653

Rule 1. All openings in a structure which may be accessed from ground level and/or within 8 feet in any direction of an exterior stairway, fire escape, ramp, porch or other exterior construction reachable from ground level or a public way should be secured to prevent entry by unauthorized persons.  One building entrance should be secured with a door of either solid core wood or steel construction, having no window in the door, and the door should be securely locked to allow access only to authorized persons.  Said door should be secured with a through-bolted hasp and padlock if the door swings in.

Rule 2. If plywood materials are used to secure buildings, such materials should be no less than 5/8-inch thick, exterior grade. Particleboard, wafer board, Masonite or other similar materials should not be used for purposes of boarding-up a building.

Rule 3. Mechanical fasteners used for wood board-up materials should be round-head non-slotted carriage bolts no less than 3/8-inch in diameter with washers and nuts on the interior face.

Installation Methods
Rule 4. The primary method of securing plywood boards should be by the use of through-bolt compression fastening, using plywood on the exterior face and wood bracing constructed of minimum 2-inch by 4-inch (nominal) lumber installed on the interior side of the opening to be secured, perpendicular to the long dimension of the opening.  Such bracing should extend at least 6 inches beyond the edge of the opening on each side in order to be securely braced against the building structure.

Rule 5. Wood construction used to secure a building opening should contain at least one bolt in each corner and additional bolts no more than four feet on center continuously along the perimeter.  Each bolt should fully penetrate the wood bracing on the interior side of the opening.

Rule 6. In the event that the through-bolt compression fastening is impossible due to the construction or condition of the opening, the opening should be covered with plywood secured with minimum 3-inch-long wood screws fastened on 4-inch centers around the circumference of the opening.

Boarding is pre‑approved in the following zip code areas:
33004           33009           33010                       33012           33013           33014
33020           33023           33034                       33054           33055           33056
33060           33069           33122                       33125           33127           33128
33130           33131           33132                       33136           33137           33138
33142           33147           33150                       33157           33161           33167
33168           33169           33170                       33177           33181           33190
33311           33315           33316                       33401           33403           33404
33405           33407           33426 (east of 1‑95) 33435           33441
33444           33460           33462 (east of 1‑95)

Exterior surface and edges of all plywood should be painted with one coat white primer and one cost white finish.  Use of screws to secure panels to wood frame windows is prohibited.  See plywood-boarding diagram on page 27.

Exterior surface and edges of all plywood should be painted with one coat white primer and one coat white finish.  Use of screws to secure panels to wood frame windows is prohibited.  Additionally, boarding is pre‑approved in the following zip code areas:

00923           00924           00929           00601           00602           00603
00703           00704           00705           00610           00612           00714
00616           00617           00794           00915           00956           00957
00959           00961           00622           00623           00725           00627
00729           00920           00921           00979           00982           00983
00985           00986           00987           00962           00736           00735
00935           00638           00739           00769           00782           00907
00783           00780           00926           00646           00647           00738
00650           00934           00652           00653           00784           00656
00965           00966           00967           00968           00969           00970
00971           00778           00659           00917           00660           00791
00662           00913           00664           00795           00777           00667
00669           00670           00771           00772           00911           00773
00674           00909           00606           00707           00680           00715
00676           00687           00718           00719           00720           00723
00624           00716           00717           00728           00730           00731
00734           00740           00741           00678           00677           00745
00925           00926           00927           00637           00688           00952
00751           00690           00683           00685           00757           00907
00909           00911           00912           00913           00953           00949
00976           00641           00692           00693           00901           00765
00766           00767           00698

EXCEPTION:  There is no pre-approved boarding in ANY gated community within these zip code areas.

PHILADELPHIA Homeownership Center

Boarding pre‑approved in the following zip codes areas for the cities of:

Bridgeport:   06601  06604  06605  06606  06607  06608  06610  06611
06612  06614  06615  06650  06673  06699
New Haven:   06501  06502  06503  06504  06505  06506  06507  06508
06509  06510  06511  06512  06513  06514  06515  06516
06517  06518  06519  06520  06521  06524  06525  06530

Boarding pre‑approved for the following zip code areas:

Boston:      02108, 02109, 02110, 02118, 02119, 02120, 02121, 02122,
02124, 02125, 02126, 02127, 02128, 02130, 02131, 02136
Brocton:     02401, 02402
Lawrence:   01840, 01841, 01842, 01843, 01845
Lynn:         01902, 01903, 01904, 01905

New Jersey
Boarding is pre-approved for the following zip code areas for the cities of:

Asbury Park: 07712
East Orange: 07017  07018  07019
Elizabeth:       07201  07202  07206  07208
Irvington:       07111
Jersey City:   07302  07304  07305  07306  07307  09308  07309  07310
07311  07395  07399
Long Branch: 07740
Newark:        07101  07102  07103  07104  07105  07106  07107  07108
07112  07114  07175  07182  07184  07188  07189  07191
07192  07193  07194  07195  07197  07198  07199
New Brunswick:  08901  08902  08903  09804  08905  08906  08922
08933  08988  08989
Patterson:     07501  07502  07503  07504  07505  07506  07507  07508
07509  07510  07511  07512  07513  07514  07522  07524
07533  07538  07543  07544
Plainfield:       07060  07061  07062  07063  07069

Boarding is pre-approved for the following zip code areas:

08016 08066           08096     08618                 08608
08101 08102           08103     08104                 08105
08232  08609           08610     08611                 08611
08312  08302 (Bridgeton only)  08360 (Vineland only)
08401  08406 (Ventnor only)    08110 (Pennsauken only)
08600  08332 (Mellville only)     08650 (Trenton only)

New York, New York
Board all properties within the city limits of the five boroughs in New York City without pre-approval with the exception of Dutchess, Putnam, and Rockland Counties.

Rhode Island
Boarding is pre‑approved for the following zip code areas in the cities of:

Providence:       05901 02902 02903 02904 02905 02906 02907
02908 02909 02910 02911 02912 02918 02919
Cranston:         02823 02905 02907 02910 02920 02921

Boarding is pre‑approved for the following zip codes.

17509           17512           17516           17517           17518           17527
17532           17536           17547           17550           17560           17563
17565           18101           18102           18103           18115           18117
19013           19023           19320           19335           19380           19401

SANTA ANA Homeownership Center
Long Beach, California

Properties should be secured with window screens and security doors only.  Do not use plywood boarding material to secure window openings.  See diagrams and specifications on pages 30-31

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7 thoughts on “Property Preservation: Boarding Windows & Doors”

    • A United Inch is a method of measurement used mainly for calculating the price of a task involving windows. To figure out the total united inches of a window, you need to know the width and height of a window and then convert each of the measurements into inches. Next you would add the width of a window (in inches) to the height of a window (in inches) to determine the number of United Inches. For example, a window that measures 24″ wide x 48″ high would be considered 72 United Inches.

  1. I see in some of the video’s above only (2) carriage bolt were used to board up a window is that the right way? I thought you’re supposed to use (4) carriage bolts


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