How can I reuse or recycle old windows?

windowsWe’ve had an email from Beth:

My husband installed replacement windows in our living room last weekend to replace single-paned, leaky originals. We now have large storm windows and wood-framed glass (non-tempered, I believe) that seems a shame to just break and throw away. Looking for ideas to recycle them ourselves into something useful or someone to give them to that could make something out of them.

I’ve blogged about it but you can’t see the actual window in those pics, just the storms.

Any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions?

When we had our drafty, single-pane windows replaced a few years ago, I wanted to keep them to use in the garden – to make a greenhouse or cold frame – but the fitters had to pretty much smash every pane (and most of the walls around them) to get them out.

A cold frame is probably one of the easiest things to do with them – if you don’t want to do that, someone on your local Freecycle group probably will – but does anyone have any other suggestions?

(Photo by blatje)

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19 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old windows?”

  1. Nicole says:

    Is it possible to donate to Habitat for Humanity or something similar?

    • Kari says:

      I checked at Habitat for Humanity, and they only want double-paned windows, which does make sense.

  2. Bellen says:

    Paint glass in a stained glass type pattern, hang as room divider.

    Hinge several together, for the space you need, add a stable base if necessary, use as a folding screen to define space.

    Make a display table, add 3-4 inch deep sides, hinged, add solid bottom and legs. Display your favorites items securely.

  3. Bobbie says:

    I was thinking you could make a headboard for your bed by replacing the glass with plywood then covering with padding and a pretty fabric.

    I have seen smaller windows decorated with a windowbox and some silk flowers then hung on the wall as decoration.

  4. Kate says:

    Get a bunch of windows together and make a hothouse or greenhouse for growing/starting plants.

    • Roman says:

      I’ve listened to NPR interviews within the last six months that explain how to do this easily with explosive results. It could likely be googled.

  5. katherine says:

    There’s a restaurant near my apartment (called M. Henry)that does the window pane room divider thing beautifully. They painted the frames, screwed in eye-hooks, then hung them from two chains by S-hook.

    You can see a picture here:
    Or here:

    (Tiny pics but you get the idea.)

    I have always loved their windows and think of them every time I see a discarded old window in an alley.

  6. debbie says:

    I can imagine some lovely wall hangings if you decoupage dried foliage, as one example, to the back side of the glass, and hang on the wall. These could also be used to make light boxes, with a light source underneath, for tracing art and patterns. What about cutting away the upper center of a hollow core interior door and using the clear window frame in that space to let light pass through between rooms more easily? Could they be installed onto the front of a bookcase as glass doors? Hinged to the wall against another window to provide a shutter-like extra layer of insulation (that also can be decorative or light-diffusing, maybe by using frosted glass spray or other paint). Perhaps attach the glass directly to the wall (if its beveled and can be used without the frame), using mirror mountings, as a backsplash, or way of adding color in a rental when you can’t paint walls. The wooden frame still around the window helps make them much more versatile for re-use.

  7. Lucia says:

    I would use them as frames for anything from photos to posters and hang them on the walls. Silly idea?

    • theresa says:

      not at all silly. Thought about doing this with some glass stickers mixed in with photos…maybe all in black and white for a vintage look.

  8. paperlady says:

    Make a compost bin and use the windows as covers to speed up the composting!

  9. Cat says:

    Donate them to a local art school, a lot of artists (or budding ones) seem to think it’s a good and easy (not really so) thing to paint on them, and they always need stuff like that, especially in underfunded highschool and college art programs.

  10. camgirl says:

    Artists and crafters love these windows. Our town has tons of these crafters that use the old pane windows in their art projects, painting murals to “stained-glass” patterns in them.

    Don’t throw them. List them on free section and you will have people fighting over them…

  11. cadizkyman says:

    I build pie-safes and jelly cabinets and quite often use old glass window panes (cut to size) and put them in my doors. I don’t know how to put a picture here but i love the idea of using them for painting. Thanks for that idea… rhett

  12. Anonymous says:

    Instead of paint, use fabric stapled to the back of the window and hang on the wall. It’s great wall art.

  13. tinagleisner says:

    Love your idea to use a random group of used windows to build a cold frame for gardening. Perfect & lots of other creative ideas online like room dividers, table tops, and indoor enclosed garden.

  14. Joey says:

    This is an amazing’s a little labor intensive but, depending on how many windows you have, you could build yourself a greenhouse! I saw this when I went to pick my daughter up from a friends house. They had saved ALL the windows from their 1912 house. The greenhouse was probably 8ft x 8ft and just looked amazing. They even reused the old sink and counter top from the kitchen as a place to pot seeds and such….very shabby chic if that’s your thing :)

  15. Joey says:

    I apologize….I should have checked the suggested links from other posts lol! I just think a greenhouse from recycled windows is fabulous! lol

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