Plywood for boarding up illegal

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

You may now be hearing things like – “Let’s plexiglass this house up,” or “Cover all the windows with clear board,” where you used to hear – “board the place up.”

That’s because it is now officially illegal in the state of Ohio to use plywood to cover windows and doors in abandoned houses.

According to the Associated Press, the state became the first in the nation this week to outlaw the use of plywood on properties certified as vacant and abandoned.

The prohibition was tucked into one of 28 bills signed Wednesday by Ohio Governor John Kasich.

With the newly formed Scioto County Land Bank, abandoned and blighted houses are purchased, secured, then eventually torn down. So what does it mean to the Land Bank?

“In the long run, we are looking at plexiglass or plastic Scioto County Commissioners Chairman Bryan Davis said. “The law is counterproductive when you look at costs.”

Marilyn Thompson, of APA-Engineered Wood Association, told the AP the trade organization representing North American plywood makers views the debate as primarily aesthetic.

“Plywood has very good structural properties, so we wouldn’t see any significant difference in terms of security,” Thompson said. “In terms of aesthetics, if building owners want to have the option to use that, that’s fine. But to ban the use of plywood and to make it mandatory to use the clear boarding really removes options for property owners and puts an additional burden on them by removing lower cost options.”

Thompson said a 4-by-8-foot sheet of plywood that’s 15/32 inches thick costs $17 to $20, while a similar-sized sheet of clear polycarbonate costs about $115.

Supporters of using a different material say plywood is susceptible to break-ins and vandalism, obstructs the visibility for first responders and sends a visual signal that depreciates surrounding property values.

Fannie Mae, the federal government-sponsored mortgage association, has been using the clear polycarbonate windows and doors for several years and, in November, declared plywood unacceptable for securing vacant properties. A zoning committee in Chicago debated the issue this spring.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.