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  • DAWGS Door and Window Guards are made of galvanized steel and are non-combustible and non-flammable.
  • DAWGS steel door and window board-up screens are reusable so they are more economical than plywood
  • During an attempted break-in, steel door and window guards are more secure than plywood
  • DAWGS Vacant Property Security tells the neighborhood that you are serious about securing your valuable investment property
  • DAWGS uses steel panels instead of plywood, making your vacant property more secure. Whether you need an entire house board-up or a commercial property secured, DAWGS can help you protect your valuable vacant investment property.


If you own or manage an investment or a rental property, there may be times when it will be vacant for an extended period, especially during redevelopment or when preparing it for sale. Securing all entry points that vandals, thieves, or squatters could use is essential to protect the vacant investment property.  While traditional methods like plywood boards are commonly used, steel door and window security screens are now considered the best option due to their numerous benefits.  Plywood board-up may seem simple and cost-effective, but it is not enough to fully protect vacant properties. Using plywood for boarding up may seem like a good idea, but in this article, we will explain why it is insufficient for safeguarding unoccupied or vacant investment properties.

Steel is better and safer. Period. The End.

When compared to plywood, steel has considerably superior material qualities. Have you ever heard of the “Man of Plywood?” No. Superman was the “man of steel.” Like Superman, steel is a robust, non-combustible solution that is practically impenetrable and less vulnerable to attacks. Although a little outdated, the data shows that an estimated 23,800 vacant residential fires occurred annually between 2013 and 2015, resulting in an estimated total of 75 deaths, 200 injuries and $785 million in property loss each year (1). It follows that wood may not be the greatest material to use for safeguarding your vacant property. Steel, on the other hand, is non-combustible.

Do steel door and window guards reduce the cost of vacant home insurance?

Short answer? It depends. Long answer? It depends. Best answer. Talk to your insurance agent. Vacant home insurance covers homes that are unoccupied for some extended duration of time. It typically costs 40-60% more than traditional home policies, although your actual mileage may vary. This premium price is because vacant properties have a higher risk of exposure to weather damage, theft, and vandalism. We recommend you speak to one of the reputable vacant home insurance providers, here are a few that we recommend: 

So – what’s the difference between a vacant property and an unoccupied home?

It sounds confusing, but there is a significant difference – and the difference matters because most homeowner policies will have exclusions for a vacant property but not for an unoccupied home. A key indicator of the difference is what is inside the home.

For example…a vacant home, the personal property has been removed, and the utilities have been shut off, and the property is vacant for periods between tenants. Whereas an unoccupied home may still have personal property in the home, the utilities may still be on, and the property may be vacant due to a long vacation, renovation, or dual residency. Of course, there can be overlap on the above. For example, if the property is one you have recently inherited as part of an estate.

How does vacant home insurance work?

Insurance companies typically offer homeowner policies with the understanding that the insured individual is living in the home, often called “owner-occupied.” However, in cases where the property is vacant for reasons such as renting it out or undergoing renovations, vacant home insurance can be obtained to provide coverage for the unoccupied property. Vacant home insurance policies usually have flexible terms, such as three, six, or nine months, to accommodate the specific duration of the vacancy and can be canceled and prorated accordingly. If the property is a rental and currently unoccupied between tenants, certain insurance carriers offer vacant home insurance, which can later be transitioned into landlord insurance once the property is occupied by a tenant.

Plywood is NOT more affordable than steel

DAWGS Vacant Property Security’s steel door and window guards provide a more cost-effective alternative to plywood board-up. Plus, when you factor in the cost of a break-in, any additional marginal cost of a steel door and window guard is easily offset by the cost of damage, repair or replacement from vandalism, arson, copper or metal theft.  There is no comparison.  DAWGS steel door and window guards are more secure than plywood board-up at a better price. You can compare here and see how steel delivers superior security and adds curb appeal to vacant investment properties. Compared to plywood, DAWGS steel security windows and doors offer a more robust and permanent solution for short or long-term security needs. In short, if you have anything of value you want to protect, plywood is a poor substitute for steel.

Want more information about DAWGS? Request a quote today.

Plywood and blight go hand in hand

While plywood may serve as a quick and relatively inexpensive solution to secure vacant properties, its appearance can be a major drawback to potential buyers. Vacant homes stand out; adding plywood can make them appear abandoned and neglected. This aesthetic concern diminishes the property value and attracts unwanted attention, potentially contributing to neighborhood blight. In fact, some cities are already taking steps to discontinue using plywood to board up windows and doors. There are better alternatives out there, after all.

Plywood board-up is not secure

While providing a basic barrier, plywood is relatively easy to break through. Its thickness and composition make it susceptible to forced entry attempts, especially compared to more robust materials like steel. Offenders with the right tools (do a search on tools known as “halligans”) or can quickly bypass plywood, rendering it a less effective deterrent against break-ins. Opting for security measures with higher resistance, such as steel door and window guards, is essential to thwart unauthorized access effectively.

Plywood board-up is not weather-resistant

One often overlooked aspect of DIY home protection using plywood is its vulnerability to environmental elements. Plywood is not weather-resistant and can deteriorate when exposed to rain, snow, and sunlight. Over time, this degradation compromises its structural integrity, making it less reliable in preventing break-ins. Vacant properties are particularly susceptible to weather-related damage, and relying on plywood alone may increase maintenance costs and decrease overall effectiveness.

In short – steel is a better choice compared to plywood board-up

Steel Door Guards - Door and window guard systems prevents zombie propertiesDo-it-yourselfers may opt for plywood due to its accessibility, but steel is a superior choice when it comes to ensuring the highest level of security for a vacant investment property.  Unfortunately, plywood board-up is susceptible to wear and tear over time, making it less durable and easier to breach. Why take the risk on plywood board-up? Steel door and window security screens provide a robust barrier against unauthorized access, deterring potential intruders and vandals more effectively. While DIY home protection measures like window boarding have their time and place, vacant investment properties demand higher levels of security.  Considering the visual impact, the durability of materials, vulnerability to weather, and the ease of break-in, it becomes clear that relying solely on plywood is not a sufficient strategy. Investing in more robust security solutions, such as steel door and window guards, is crucial to ensure the safety and integrity of your vacant property.

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  1. U.S Fire Administration (2018).Vacant Residential Building Fires (2013-2015). Link []
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