Picture of Greenhouse From Old Windows
This is a brief guide on how I took some old windows from houses they where tearing down in my neighborhood and turned them into a small greenhouse in my back yard. I collected the windows over the course of a year and a half and the build took about 3 months, spending one day a week on it. I spent about $300 for the lumber for the frame and screws, caulk, latches, etc. That's almost 10% of what a greenhouse kit would cost. The size I built was 7 ft high x 10 ft deep x 6 ft wide. But the size of your greenhouse will depend on your windows and the time you want to put into project.

Step 1: Collect Windows and Plan Two Pair of Equal Sides.

Picture of Collect Windows and Plan Two Pair of Equal Sides.
Look for old windows and save every one you get. After you have many, lay them out and play a game trying to make two pairs of "walls" both the same height. Two to three inches won't matter as you can cover the difference with wood. Smaller holes will need to have glass cut for them or filled with something else. Keep in mind that one end will need a door and the other a hole for a fan.
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Awesome green house, thanks for the idea & instruction. My will be much small but still used all your instructions.

avesatrying1 month ago

brilliant! thank you for such detailed instructions, I am hoping to make a conservatory out of old windows lol

Akin Yildiz made it!1 year ago

i kind of made one ? :)

RbotJ Akin Yildiz3 months ago

Very nice!

cheft (author)  Akin Yildiz1 year ago
Nice! Great looking cold frame!
RbotJ3 months ago


StacyJayT3 months ago

Thank you for sharing! I love it!

Just scored a few big windows today for my own version of this. Thanks for all the tips!

Okay, I see there is more directions...(duh). So you are saying you exchanged the roof for windows for more light. I like the gutter idea..I have a bunch of them so its great I can use them.

Cheft: could you be more explanatory about the foundation. I see in the pic, you have two boards attached to the 4x4. Did you leave them Both in? How did you attach the windows? Hinges? Screws? I have been collecting windows and want to do this, this summer. I am going to attach it on one side to a garage...any suggestions?

ABSOLUTELY AWESOME !!!!!!!! Love the reuse aspect.

Another good source for old windows is Freecycle.org - you join one of the online groups that's in your own community - I moderate the one for Storrs CT. It's free. On these sites, you ask for/offer items. Always free. I see old windows offered on my site every month or so. And if you post a "Wanted" - you might just inspire someone to part with old windows sitting in their garage, barn, etc.

CurlyQue1 year ago

my husband and i have been collecting glass doors and old windows in hopes to build something very similar to this!! awesome inspiration!! absolutely love it! can't wait for spring so we can start on ours! woohoo! (wow - sorry about all the exclamation points, but this kind of stuff gets me excited. LOL) :o)

Great idea my wife mentioned this earlier tonight and look what pops up while browsing. Well I started collecting window tonight and hop to be able to get some better weather to work on this in my project garage and have it ready to go by spring. Living and gardening in MN make for some tough to do winter projects but I always mange to pull it off. Thanks for a good set set of plans and how to's they may come in handy.
Madrigorne1 year ago
Look, you're an inspiration!
See how awesome you are?
desoi1 year ago
Inspirational stuff! I want something similar but smaller and probably a fair bit simpler in my own garden and this has given me lots of ideas. Many thanks
twighahn2 years ago
i seen these here but i think i would like all the windows to be the same size and use a pole to open and close the top vent and have a closable window where the fan goes so when we have a bad winter i can close it.
alicemartin2 years ago
Are the screws affixing the windows to the frame on the outside? Great glasshouse by the way: )
flyingpuppy3 years ago
Genius! Will favorite this one.
corcutt3 years ago
That's AWESOME! I commend your ingenuity and helping to save the planet by recycling! Kudos! Thanks for sharing!
makalove5 years ago
When our local community gardening group was offered a bunch of windows by a guy who was remodelling an old house, we were told by our local county extension office that building a greenhouse from discarded windows was a bad idea because of the possibility of injury due to broken windows. Greenhouses should be paned with shatterproof substances because regular household window glass could break badly and seriously injure someone inside the greenhouse. Just a caveat.
Stofax makalove3 years ago
that is why many use clear corrugated plastic sheeting for the roof, and windows for the walls. This also helps create moddled lighting as most plants prefer that to full sun and it will greatly decrease the odds of them burning, especially in a higher ambient humidity. :)
I have three greenhouse, and used regular windows for the construction. They have been in use now for more than 11 years, and with only five broken window panes. One from Hurricane Opal, the other four normal accidents that would have broken just about any window.
A warning about single pane ordinary glass hazards is warranted, BUT...

There should be no regulation preventing the use of used windows with single pane, single or double strength glass.

I to am in the process of trying to collect enough old windows to build a greenhouse of a reasonably usable size.

In the meantime, I got really lucky when a couple of neighbors replaced their large "patio" sliding glass doors.  They each consisted of TWO glass panels [one fixed and the other sliding], giving me FOUR large double glazed [insulating] panels.

And the REALLY good thing about them is that they are both made with TEMPERED glass which is genrally much stronger, AND IF broken, shatters into hundreds of small "pebble-like," pea gravel sized pieces which are not as dangerous as the shards from broken ordinary glass.

Not yet having enough windows collected to build a greenhouse, I used the 4 double insulated panels to make four COLD FRAMES,  which work great.  Because of being double pane insulated panels, they each are very heavy, but with proper [ergonomically speaking] handles and automatic [gravity-pendelum action] prop rods, they are managable.

I made the cold frame bases of treated 2x4 framing, with the cavities filled with discarded Styrofoam sheeting [picked up wherever found discarded], covered with 1/2 inch treated plywood on the outside, and 1/2 inch untreated, but exterior grade, plywood on the inside.  I then lined the interior walls with a construction water barrier film to give some limited protection to the plywood.  To facilitate replacement of the interior plywood wall panels if it should ever be needed, I assembled the entire structure with Galvanized drywall screws.

Before varnishing, I carefully caulked all exterior crevices that might allow entry of weather [wind or water].  Finally, ALL outside wood exposed to weather was sealed with a properly applied [per label directions] triple coat of Polyurethane Varnish.

Unfortunately, I have no photos, AND have sold both cold frames a few years back.  A "out-of-towner" guy made me an offer I couldn't refuse [$500 each], and so I've got to start over in the process of collecting tempered glass double insulated panels.
my sisters inlaws had a green house two people used for years and years....no such problems except weather and age...breaking windows...They even had dogs and cats around.
, you gave me associations to some thriller movie now. Can't remember what it was called, but a lady got "murdered by greenhouse"... I just love the greenhouse here, it is just sooo beautiful! Make me want a mini version for my balcony! Mine wouldn't be a walk-in model though, but rather a "closet" version... :)
BuckyH peapeam4 years ago
I'm sure the name of the movie is "The hand that rocks the cradle."
Gotta love the Nanny State....
[shrugs] not saying we didn't still use the windows! but people should have all the information when looking at a project so that they can make an informed decision.
cheft (author)  makalove5 years ago
They shouldn't have scared you like that. In Chicago we have many turn of the century greenhouses still in operation using mainly mainly single paned glass.
jmccallen3 years ago
"Choose a length that allows at least 14" of the stud to be placed in the ground for support."...as in buried in the ground like a post? standard non-treated 2x4's?
cheft (author)  jmccallen3 years ago
Yes, bury it in the ground for support. Any wood in contact with soil should be pressure treated, otherwise you'll be replacing them in just a few years due to rot. Good Luck!
jmccallen3 years ago
nice touch with the dutch door...easy to convert from any existing door you might have around..
trish3303 years ago
this is exactly what i have been saving those windows for in my garage. I will be clearing some area near my compost pile.... what a great idea and thanks for the step by step!. I live outside of Chicago...
denebrock3 years ago
Love this idea!
You have given me such inspiration. Our local court house was having their windows replaced. We scored 10 windows 35"'by38" and 10 windows 33"by35" and several more assorted sizes. All are double paned and we got the gasket around them. Couldn't get the channels. If we use 2" by 4"s and put a 1/2 inch channel in each to secure windows, would this give me enough structure safety? Don't know construction but really am inspired by you.
neuronical3 years ago
We have hundreds of windows in our barn and I am getting ready to start the design and structural planning of a very large greenhouse. I will trade windows for expertise, project help or ???
ibarnett524 years ago
thats awesome im collecting windows right now gonna build a big one
kruegekm4 years ago
This instructable is awesome! Such good description that makes it seem possible. Also, I like how it evolved over time with the various materials scores. Inspiring!
katerlyn4 years ago
This is great. I have a lot of extra windows I got half price of very low prices, at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore....that would be a good source of reasonable windows.
A neighbor made a green house of windows, he set it on concrete from an old barn that was on the property years before.
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