Boarding Up Openings for Security and Safety

by Jon on December 17, 2010

Security board-ups:
Often I find windows that are broken or that are completely missing.  This is a security issue and in order to secure a property these have to be boarded up as soon as possible.  After all, what good does it do to change locks if someone can simply crawl through an open or missing window?  This is usually a matter of placing a piece of plywood on the outside to cover the hole and running 12 inch bolts through the board and opening to a couple of two-by-fours on the inside of the house and bolting them snugly into place.  The bolts have rounded heads on the outside so that someone cannot simply unscrew them with a wrench or screwdriver.  This is usually a two-person job – one on the outside to drill and the feed the bolts through the plywood (while holding it in place) to the person on the inside, who runs the bolts through the two-by-fours and puts washers and nuts on the bolts and tightens them in place.

Window Board-up

Window Board-up

Occasionally I run into a situation where I can only work from the outside.  For example, all other openings have been boarded up or are sealed for one reason or another; and there is no way to exit if I’m on the inside and I’ve just boarded up the last doorway.  One way to handle this is to use 3.5 inch 16d spiral nails to nail a piece of plywood over the opening to the surrounding frame.  These are very hard to remove once hammered into place.  They are inexpensive and readily available at your local hardware store, Lowe’s, or Home Depot.   One could also use one-way screws. These are harder to find and are more expensive.  I only recommend this technique on houses where repairs will have to be done anyway; because this will create some extra holes to be patched up.  In the example shown I used this method.  The house was destined to be bulldozed down anyway; so it didn’t really matter.

Outside Access Only

Outside Access Only

Safety board-ups: Sometimes in addition to security issues, one will encounter safety issues.  I once had to board up an elevator shaft that was under construction and still incomplete when the building was abandoned.  The door to the elevator on the upper floor was completely missing, making it possible for someone to fall down the empty shaft and be seriously injured.  So naturally the concern in this case was safety rather than security.  That being the case, I wasn’t worried about someone trying to break into the place; I just wanted to make sure no one could get hurt.  Since the frame of the opening was exposed it was simply a matter of nailing some two-by-fours to the inside of this frame, then cutting a piece of plywood to exactly fit inside the doorway and screwing it to these two-by-fours.

Boarding Up An Open Elevator Shaft

Boarding Up An Open Elevator Shaft

This might not necessarily be a locksmith’s job; but it seems to overlap somewhat and definitely needs to be handled to protect everyone as early as possible.

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