In this short article, we will explain why it is important to use building code approved fasteners to board up windows for hurricane protection. Additionally, we’ll point you to an economical hurricane protection system that meets the requirements of the Florida Building code, the International Building code and the International Residential Code.

Untested do-it-yourself methods may fail. Homemade (workshop) protection solutions that have not undergone proper testing could provide a false sense of security and fail during high winds. A homeowner or builder may think his creation will work, but until real forces simulating hurricane force winds are applied, there is no guarantee that a method will hold up. Even engineers are sometimes surprised when and how products fail.

To ensure adequate hurricane protection, read carefully and be sure the product has building code approval. Watch the wording – many products on the market intended for window and door protection do NOT have building code approval or acceptance. These products may claim to have been “tested to” strict building code requirements BUT do not state that their product passed! Building contractors attempting to meet coastal building code requirements are not permitted to install these unapproved products. Unsuspecting homeowners should not either.

How to tell if a product meets code

Either the fastener needs to be listed in the building code passage (link to code section) or hold an Evaluation Report. An Evaluation Report authored by a licensed engineer states that a product was tested to the correct test protocol and passed and meets the current building code and modifications. All states use either the International Building Code (IBC) or the Florida Building Code (FBC). Florida Product Approvals are set by the State of Florida for all construction trades. They identify products that the State approves for use in Florida with valid Evaluation Reports. Most states accept this stringent certification. The PlyFASTner Florida Product Approval is FL# 13531.

How does a building inspector determine if a product meets code?

Help them with their work! Provide them with a copy of an Evaluation Report. On this report they are looking for ASTM E330, ASTM E1886 and ASTM E1996 and limitations. ASTM E1886 states what tests are to be performed (impact and cyclical testing). ASTM E1996 states how the tests are to be performed. Some inspectors or Plan Review examiners also verify limitations like Wind Zone and Design Wind Pressures of at least 52psf. One example of a required test is that a full sheet of plywood (32 square feet) and connectors must hold 52psf for 10 seconds. With a required 1.5 safety factor, that is 78psf*32sf = 2,496lbs. of force on a full sheet of ½” CDX plywood. Another example of a required test is cyclical loading. Varying amounts of this load will be applied in the positive and negative direction then released 9,000 times. Many fasteners that do not have code approval cannot pass these two test examples.

How unapproved plywood panel fasteners are likely to fail

Fasteners used to fasten plywood panels will often fail when the panel is loaded with a negative pressure, as if the panel is being pulled off the window. The panel will bend/bow outward, get narrower and come off the opening.

Which Building Code requirements does the PlyFASTner Plus® Hurricane Protection System meet?

The PlyFASTner Plus system was tested in accordance with ASTM E 1886, ASTM E 1996, and ASTM E 330, including the large missile test and positive and negative cyclical pressures. The system meets the requirements of the Florida Building Code, the International Building Code, and International Residential Code. The downloadable Evaluation Report will provide Building Services with the required information that certifies code compliance.

The PlyFASTner Plus Advanced Hurricane Protection System features the new PlyFASTner Plus Stow and DeployTM hardware, which is permanently installed in advance, so you can quickly put protective plywood panels in place without using tools. PlyFASTner Plus can be used with either plywood (1/2 ̋ CDX or 7/16 ̋ OSB) or polycarbonate panels.

Visit plyfastner.com to learn more about the PlyFASTner Plus Advanced Hurricane Protection System and to locate sellers for homeowners or home builders. PlyFASTner Plus 1-Window Packs, 9-Window Cases and individual components can be purchased online.

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