TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The high cost of lumber and plywood may impact the way people prepare for hurricanes this year. Plywood has soared to more than $70 a sheet.
Each year thousands of Floridians go to home improvement stores to buy plywood to cover their doors and homes as a hurricane approaches. This year, that may not be possible.
Jonathan Moore is the rresident of InVision Advisors and has supervised many commercial and residential construction projects. Moore said there are many alternatives to plywood for home protection if you prepare in advance.
“Plywood should always be your last resort in protecting your windows. They are never going to be measured correctly, you are always going to be cutting in the field,” said Moore.
Instead, he suggests homeowners consider other products.
“There are professional panels, there are ballistic fabrics that you can stretch across and those need to be installed by a professional and should happen long before the storm gets here,” said Moore.
This year a shortage could impact the number of professionals who are able to provide the labor needed to install some forms of home protection. Moore suggested customers make a plan as soon as possible.
“With labor right now, this market is very, very busy. So, actually finding the labor to install any type of hurricane protection is probably going to take you a while,” said Moore.
The Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has a huge testing facility in South Carolina to find out what materials protect a home the best in a major storm.
Dr. Anne Cope is the chief engineer with IBHS and says in many cases, plywood is not the best alternative for people in Florida to protect their homes over a long period of time.
“No matter how well you try to stack it and keep it straight, it’s going to bend and warp and then you are going to have to get new plywood anyway,” said Cope.
She said with the rising cost of plywood, this year is a good year for Florida homeowners to switch to better materials for home protection.
“One thing this brings now is some of the clear plastic panels, some of the hurricane fabric items, are now right there in the same cost bracket as plywood, because of the high cost of plywood. So what I would recommend to people this year is go ahead and make the investment this year to get a couple of those really nice panels this year that you can use over and over again,” said Cope.