When you buy a 120-year old building that’s in disrepair, chances are you’ll inherit some junk.
Among the things we inherited were ancient single-paned windows.
There’s not a lot you can do with these when it comes to construction. The ones in our shed were fragile, with failing glazing and broken panes. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t use them in building (in California, anyway) with a hope of passing inspection.
So there they sat, until we got the fence up and it looked kind of naked and I thought hmmm, I wonder…
Turning old single-paned windows into garden art is actually a fast, easy project.
Step one involves de-glassing the frames. Lay out a tarp or drop cloth. You’ll need some gloves, a hammer, some safety glasses or goggles, and pliers, preferably needle-nosed. For step two, you’ll need polyurethane or paint, or possibly both, depending on what inspires you.
Break each pane with a hammer blow or two in the middle.
Wearing gloves, carefully remove the glass and drop it on the tarp. Depending on how loose the glazing is, the glass may come out easily or you may have to pull it. Needle-nosed pliers can help you get the last few stubborn pieces out. Shake the empty frame over the tarp to make sure you’ve got it all. Then CAREFULLY gather the tarp or dropcloth up by the corners, put it into a garbage bag (doubling the bag is a good idea) and CAREFULLY put it in the trash. Check the surrounding area for chips.
Now you’re ready for step two. Depending on what the frames look like and what you have in mind, you can use them as-is, add a coat of polyurethane to keep a shabby chic look from flaking further, or paint.
The two matching ones with flaking dark red paint and cream showing through underneath were perfect – they just got a coat of exterior polyurethane to keep them from flaking further. The others got easter egg colors – chartreuse, blue, and bluish-green. I used exterior primer mixed with acrylic color (because it’s what I had hanging around) but I think you could use just about anything.
Once they’re dry, it’s easy to hang them on the fence with a couple of screws.
And as a bonus, there’s now room in the shed for more projects!