How to Use Old Windows As Picture Frames

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Old windows are an attractive way to add texture and character to a collection of photos and art. Old windows can be diamond shaped, leaded with arches or mullioned with old glazing that adds a distinct appearance to the image it frames. By viewing the window as both art and frame, it becomes possible to use the old window as a unified artistic statement on a large wall or over larger pieces of furniture.

Things You'll Need

  • Old window
  • Pictures or art
  • Acrylic sheets (optional)
  • White art board (optional)
  • Photo-mount tape
  • Clips (glaziers points)
  • Scissors
  • Glass cleaner
  • Cleat hangers for extra heavy pictures
  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Ladder
  • Level
  • Select an old window that has an interesting look. Be careful to select one that isn't painted with a lead-based paint. Repair the window so that the glass panes will stay in place. Install mounting hardware to the back of the frame. Be careful to use hardware rated in excess of the window's weight for good safety. Use cleat hangers if the hardware needs to be hidden from view.

  • Measure, mark and mount cleat hangers to the wall where the window will be hung. When possible locate studs with a stud finder, and use a level to ensure that the installation will be level.

  • Clean the backside of the glass panes. Use clear acrylic sheets and photo-mount tape to give a floating appearance to pictures or art. Cut the acrylic to the same size as the glass panes, being careful to clean any fingerprints. Position the art or pictures on the acrylic, and affix using photo-mount tape. Sandwich the acrylic/picture against the cleaned backside of the glass, and use clips to hold the acrylic in place.

  • Cut white art board and pictures or art the exact size of the glass pane, and position the art or images flush to the glass. Use clips or glazier's points to hold the art or image in place. This will produce a non-floating look. Fill each 'frame' with art or an image. Consider filling one or more with a solid color or even decorative paper or fabric to bring an unexpected pop of color to the arrangement. Use both floating and non-floating pictures in the same arrangement to add interest.

  • Clean the front side of the glass panes last, and double check to be sure that no debris, hair, paint flecks or fingerprints are visible. Hang the window from the cleats.

Tips & Warnings

  • Windows can be quite heavy, so use a cleat system. This system will also allow for a flat mounting (the window will not tip out from the wall). This is more secure and provides a more professional and cohesive look. Consider changing the images seasonally.
  • Be careful to identify the type of paint on the old window. A good salvage yard should be able to tell you of any hazards. Many old windows have broken mullions or loose glass. Repair these prior to using the window as a picture frame to prevent glass from falling out and causing injury.

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