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.

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.

Step 2: Create a Frame

Using the windows you chose as a guide, construct a frame for each wall. Use good lumber for this, as it is the structure that holds all the weight. I used all 2 x 4s for the studs and 4 x 4s for the corner posts. Choose a length that allows at least 14" of the stud to be placed in the ground for support.

Step 3: Brace Walls

Start placing the walls up, bracing well so they don't fall over. Be sure to check that they are level.

Step 4: Make the Foundation Secure

To avoid certain problems with pesky city building permits, I built the structure shed height and did not pour a concrete foundation. Instead I buried cinder blocks to stabilize the 4 x 4 corner posts. They keep it from moving an inch.

Step 5: Screw on Windows

I used some nice coated deck screws to affix the windows to the frame. This will allow for easy removal and replacement if any break. This side facing the camera has the empty window for a fan.

Step 6: Get a Floor

I was able to find someone who needed rocks removed from their yard. Using rocks or stones is good for two reasons: good drainage and heat storage.

Step 7: Build the Roof

This was tricky. I ended up getting siding from an old shed someone had torn down. Any material you use, look for lightweight and waterproof material. Be sure that you have some that will open for ventilation, at least 20-30% of your floor space. You can get by with less if you use a fan for ventilation. Also build the slant roof with at least a 4 degree pitch, otherwise rain may not sheet off well.

Step 8: Add the Shelves and Fans.

I found an old picnic bench table and this fan and shelf in the garbage. I figured I can use them in my greenhouse and save them from a landfill.

Step 9: Caulk and Paint

Use a good outdoor caulk and seal all the cracks and holes between windows. Paint the wood to protect it from the weather.

Step 10: Update: Spring 2009

The winter this year was especially bad near me. We had several feet of snow weeks on end. Luckily, I had already emptied the greenhouse and removed the roof panels in late November. I live in a zone 5 area. During the last month I brought out an electric heater to keep the temperature more consistent overnight.

This year I was able to obtain a large picture window and decided to install a windowed roof this spring. It will allow much more light in and therefore heat. I used the same deck screws to affix the windows to the roof frame I already had built. For the roof vents, I took two windows and screwed them together. I found old door hinges and used a piece of PVC as a brace. I added a screw holding it to the frame as a cotter pin. Lastly, In case a huge gust of wind came along and tried to yank open the windows, I nailed a small chain to the frame and window to prevent the window slamming backwards onto the rest of the roof.

I also modified the south facing bench. It connects to the frame on one end and still uses cinder blocks on the other. This will hopefully allow me to utilize the space inside better. It's filling quickly!

Now that the roof will allow so much light through, cooling will be a greater issue this summer. I may place some of the old panels back up in July/August to reflect some of that light. I also have obtained some reflecting fabric.

Lastly, I think in the future, I will completely rebuild the roof, using the windows for a gable type structure. It will force me to use some sort of poly material to cover up the gable ends. The current pitch of the roof is not enough to slope water off the windows completely.

Step 11: Edit: Fan Window

I was unhappy with having to remove the fan/vent window and having to prop it against something while cooling the greenhouse during the day. The frame was already designed to fit the window into it. I decided to have it slide up and be held in place. I started by salvaging some hinges from an old entertainment center. They are the kind that sit completely outside the door. Plus these had a unique shape that fit around a right angle. This allowed the wooden "stops" to swing in place and hold the window up while I was venting or when the fan is in place. Across the frame I nailed some boards to hold the fan window against the frame. Lastly, I found an old pulley and fastened it to the window so I can pull it up easily.

Step 12: Spring 2010 Roof Vent Upgrades

Had a major score! A local community greenhouse was torn down and replaced. I was able to get some great parts. Here is a picture of the new window system. It originally opened the windows on the side of the greenhouse. The wheel is turned and rotates the gear attached to the pipe opening the windows. Makes opening and shutting easy. While every window now must be open at the same time, I can control the angle at which they are open.

Also pictured  is a gutter claimed from the trash. The hinge side of the roof windows always leaked profusely. The gutter catches the water and stores it in a bucket for easy watering.

Step 13: Spring 2010 Shading

Bought secondhand some rolling shades which are working great. They easily roll up and down the south facing wall while not taking up too much room.

Step 14: Winter 2012

Here is the greenhouse in a mild winter.  I overwinter many potted perennials inside. To insulate the roof, I stretch a sheet of poly across the top to keep out the drafts. Last October, 2011, I repainted both the inside and out. All the wood is doing well. I hope that, with care, the greenhouse will last over 10 years. It has changed the way I garden, making my back yard much more productive.
<p>you would need alot of windows to make them all match up!</p>
<p>****see my post below****</p><p>Please everyone...Check out my post below...</p><p>look and reply!!</p><p>Enjoy</p><p>Peave</p>
<p>I know I'm only ~8 years late, But it looks like more ventilation is definitely needed...</p>
<p>in mine, some of the windows will open, look above at th pe pic of mine framed out and ready for windows. Andi have roof vents like he does.</p><p>I have a kick ass fan/vent system</p><p>.you are correct!</p><p>peace</p><p>martie</p>
<p>I like the idea but it seems difficult for me :p</p>
<p>amd you're right!</p><p>Look at my photo anove...I paid someone $2,000 in labor for what you see.</p><p>I paid for the materials and I have the windows which I will put in.</p><p>Anyway...thats how I achieved it.</p><p>The rest is up to me.</p><p>Good luck</p><p>Peace</p><p>Martie</p>
<p>hiya..</p><p>(March 2016)</p><p>All replies welcome!</p><p>Here is my greenhouse. It has a poured concrete footing. Its 12x12. </p><p>Water and electric too!</p><p>When growing time snuck up on me last year the windows were not in.</p><p> I wrapped it in plastic and had a veggie/tomato bumper crop growing vertically.</p><p>Its time to get the windows in and I have questions, if you please.</p><p>I still have to frame the front, but the other 3 sides are ready.</p><p>So....</p><p>Did you caulk outside or inside or both? Have you solved your leaking?</p><p>Any tips? It is laid out, framed and ready for my awesome hometown, </p><p>Circa 1900's wood windows.</p><p>Peace!</p><p>martie</p>
<p>i kind of made one ? :)</p>
<p>it's beautiful!</p>
<p>Very nice!</p>
Nice! Great looking cold frame!
<p>Lace sheers would diffuse the sun, where as the window shades completely block it ...just saying</p>
<p>If someone wondering about choosing right type of window; I suggest that you visit <a href="http://www.hdihomedecor.com/window-types/" rel="nofollow">HDI Home Decor window types</a> and check it out.</p>
<p>ahahahah this is great, by far the best use for old windows Ive seen, congrats</p>
<p>This is a very clever use for old windows. Thank you for sharing!</p>
<p>This is really great! I've been wanting to build one of these for a few years now. Just waiting until I move a little further from the city to a place with a larger yard. Thanks for the build!</p>
<p>I have three nursery, and utilized customary windows for the development. Extremely decent! Plants simply cherish a decent nursery. One thing that you might consider - utilizing a creased translucent fiber risen or plastic top that is introduced on an inclination (not level flat) will keep away any issues with a defective rooftop why? since the inclination of tilt of the rooftop downpours to deplete or slide off when it touches the rooftop on top of it is extremely intriguing to playing. For more info Kamagra http://www.kamagramart.org/</p>
Very nice! Plants just love a good hothouse. One thing that you may consider - usind a corrugated translucent fibre rosen or plastic top that is installed on a slant (not flat horizontal) will keep away any problems with a leaky roof why? because the slant of tilt of the roof helps rain to drain or slide off as soon as it touches the roof. You could take this further by creating a rain collecting system so you have ample supplies of gentle rain water to give your plants. Thank you for sharing and conserving otherwise wasted materials. Bravo!<br><br><br>
<p>I've always wanted to do this. Great job.</p>
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.<br />
, you gave me associations to some thriller movie now. Can't remember what it was called, but a lady got &quot;murdered by greenhouse&quot;... 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 &quot;closet&quot; version... :)
<p>Wasn't that Rebecca de Mornay?</p>
<p>yep...the hand that rocks the cradle and it was Julianne Moore that was killed by the glass panes in the greenhouse...</p>
I'm sure the name of the movie is &quot;The hand that rocks the cradle.&quot;
A warning about single pane ordinary glass hazards is warranted, <strong>BUT...</strong><br> <br> There should be no regulation preventing the use of used windows with single pane, single or double strength glass.<br> <br> I to am in the process of trying to collect enough old windows to build a greenhouse of a reasonably usable size.<br> <br> In the meantime, I got really lucky when a couple of neighbors replaced their large &quot;patio&quot; sliding glass doors.&nbsp; They&nbsp;each consisted of TWO glass panels [one fixed and the other sliding], giving me FOUR large double glazed&nbsp;[insulating] panels.<br> <br> 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 &quot;pebble-like,&quot; pea gravel sized pieces which are not as dangerous as the shards from broken ordinary glass.<br> <br> Not yet having enough windows collected to build a greenhouse, I used the 4 double insulated panels to make four COLD FRAMES,&nbsp; which work great.&nbsp; Because of&nbsp;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.<br> <br> I made the cold frame bases of treated 2x4 framing, with the cavities filled with discarded Styrofoam sheeting&nbsp;[picked up wherever found discarded], covered with 1/2 inch treated plywood on the outside, and 1/2 inch untreated, but exterior grade,&nbsp;plywood on the inside.&nbsp; I then lined the interior walls with a construction&nbsp;water barrier film&nbsp;to give some limited protection to&nbsp;the plywood.&nbsp; To facilitate replacement of the interior plywood wall panels if it should ever be needed, I assembled the entire structure&nbsp;with Galvanized drywall screws.<br> <br> Before varnishing, I carefully caulked all exterior crevices that might allow entry of weather [wind or water].&nbsp; Finally, ALL outside wood exposed to weather was sealed with a properly applied [per label directions]&nbsp;triple coat of Polyurethane Varnish.<br> <br> Unfortunately, I have no photos, AND have sold both cold frames a few years back.&nbsp; A&nbsp;&quot;out-of-towner&quot; guy&nbsp;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.
Yes glass breaks. Put some gloves and safety glasses in and mindful that it shatters. Once long ago there was a land without plastic and practicality reigned supreme. Anyway you can X tape them to control the breakage.
<p>hi, yes breakage is always a consideration when working with glass. I have old windows, some of which are still in my house LOL.... Until they get replaced, I strengthened them with 3M clear packing tape. I just cleaned the window glass &amp; then laid down strips of the tape over it, with a slight overlap at edges. Most bubbles pressed out but some persisted until I pricked them with a pin, then I could press them out. These are going to be replaced &amp; I did this on the &quot;storm windows&quot; which get put over the regular windows every fall &amp; taken down every spring. I do plan to re-purpose those &quot;storms&quot; when we replace those windows with something a LOT more efficient, as we have the others. A little at a time, ya know? ...anyway I wanted the protective clear film one can simply trim to size &amp; lay over the glass (it's adhesive-backed) but could not find any in my area. The strips of packing tape were a compromise.</p>
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.
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.<br>
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.
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. <br />
<p>Awesome green house, thanks for the idea &amp; instruction. My will be much small but still used all your instructions.</p>
<p>brilliant! thank you for such detailed instructions, I am hoping to make a conservatory out of old windows lol</p>
<p>Thank you for sharing! I love it!</p>
<p>Just scored a few big windows today for my own version of this. Thanks for all the tips!</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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? </p>
<p> ABSOLUTELY AWESOME !!!!!!!! Love the reuse aspect. </p>
<p>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 &quot;Wanted&quot; - you might just inspire someone to part with old windows sitting in their garage, barn, etc.</p>
<p>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)</p>
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.
Look, you're an inspiration! <br>See how awesome you are? <br>http://homes.yahoo.com/blogs/spaces/young-couple-quit-jobs-build-glass-house-500-204553074.html
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

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