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Reclaimed Window Greenhouse Part Four: Windows

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

I love the antique windows in this reclaimed window greenhouse. For me, they make the structure beautiful. But they also added an element of difficulty. The first step was collecting my windows. This took about 2 years but I finally felt like I had enough that I could plan out what I wanted my greenhouse to look like. I first had to measure and inventory all my windows and then the real work began. In the first video of the Greenhouse Build series we showed you how we made the foundation. The second one showed how to do the framing. The third covered the roofing.

In this installment of our reclaimed window greenhouse build, we show the window preparation and installation.

Greenhouse windows in our reclaimed window greenhouse.

Window Preparation for the Reclaimed Window Greenhouse

Preparation of the windows begins with basic cleaning. Warm soapy water and a cloth are best for this. If there are any serious stains the magic eraser usually works pretty well. An air compressor also helps with spider webs or loose dirt and paint. Then it is time to pull out the chisel for chipping off any loose or thick areas of paint. At this point, I also like to take a razor blade and clean off any messy paint or caulk on the windows.

Clean your reclaimed vintage windows to be used in the reclaimed window greenhouse.

If any of the window panes are broken they will need to be replaced. While this is a slightly scary idea, it is not nearly as difficult as it sounds.

Removing Broken Window Panes

The first step is to remove the broken pane. It is a good idea to use leather gloves when working with glass. You remove the pane by chipping off the old glazing and removing the glazier points. I save the points to reuse them with the new glass. At this point, the broken glass should come right out.

If my broken window is intact enough then I like to use it as my template for the new glass. Otherwise, I have to measure the opening. It is important not to cut the glass too big because it is difficult to make small cuts with a glass cutter but the larger ones are pretty easy.

Cutting New Glass

Cutting new glass to replace the broken panes.

To cut the glass all I had to do was use a glass-cutting tool. (Do not use tempered glass. It will not work but will shatter everywhere when you go to cut it.) Using a metal ruler helps give you a good line. I score extra at the top and bottom of the piece and then using strong pressure make my whole line. After the glass had been scored all I did was elevate the score line on a small strip of wood and pushed gently on the glass on each side. It is almost like magic. The two sides just separate.

Installing the New Window Panes

Place the window glazing to replace the window panes in our reclaimed window greenhouse.

With my new pane of glass placed in the frame, I used the glazier’s points to hold in the glass. Then I made a long “snake” out of window glazing. (It looks like Playdo. I’m so glad I had a lot of toddlers. It gave me plenty of practice.) I then pushed the glazing into the frame around the edge of the pane.

Trim, angle, and smooth the window glazing for the windows in our reclaimed window greenhouse.

Using a razor blade I finished it off by cutting it at an angle and smoothing it with my fingers gently.

This needs to dry in a warm dry environment for 7-10 days.

Paint the glazing and protect the wood with exterior paint.

After the glazing has cured, it needs to be painted with exterior paint. You can do the rest of the window at the same time but I like the old cracked paint look so I just used Thompson’s Waterseal to protect my exposed wood.

This needs 1-2 days to dry as well.

Window Installation on the Reclaimed Window Greenhouse

Finally, the windows are ready to be installed.

Add an exterior angled frame to the frames used in our reclaimed window greenhouse.

Each opening needed a 3/4″ border placed near the outside edge. I cut these with a 10-degree angle on the long edge to keep any water from pooling near the window or frame.

Set the interior frame of the reclaimed window greenhouse.

Most of my windows needed a small shim placed under them. This helped to center them in the window area. I then used additional 3/4″ boards (without an angle) on the inside to sandwich the windows into their opening. The window itself cannot be nailed to the frame or it won’t be able to shift as the building settles and may break over time.

The next step is siding and trim. (Watch for our next post.)

For helpful videos, check out our YouTube channel:

To see how to make a root cellar, follow this link:

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