How to Make a Picture Window

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Picture windows provide light and unobstructed views.
Picture windows provide light and unobstructed views. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Large, unobstructed panes of glass provide our homes with lots of natural light and frame our view of the world. This second feature is why they are known as picture windows. Large windows can be very expensive and must be custom ordered to fit your installation. You can build your own picture window using stock lumber and glass. Careful measurements are key to getting your glass the right size, so measure the opening twice to ensure proper sizing.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-6-inch (or 2-by-8-inch) lumber
  • 1-by-2-inch lumber
  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • Treated deck screws
  • Pin nailer
  • Painter's caulk
  • Silicone caulk
  • Glass
  • Glass points
  • Chisel

Measure the inside of your window opening vertically and horizontally at both corners and in the center of the opening. Have ¼-inch-thick glass cut 3¹⁄8 inches shorter and narrower than this opening.

Measure the top, bottom and sides of your window opening, inside to inside. Cut either 2-by-6-inch or 2-by-8-inch lumber, depending on the thickness of your wall, to fit each side of the opening. Cut 45 degree miters on both ends of each board, one right and one left, through the 1½-inch-thick edge of the board to form an elongated trapezoid.

Fit the four pieces into the opening, with the long faces of the miters toward the wall frame, so that they match up at the corners. Use 3-inch-long treated deck screws to attach the boards to the wall frame, one every 8 inches. This will be referred to as the window frame.

Measure the inside of the frame and cut 1-by-2-inch lumber to fit it in the same way. Cut two pieces for the top, two pieces for the bottom and two pieces for each side of the frame. These pieces will form the inner and outer stop frames. Align one bottom, one top and one 1-by-2 piece on each side of the window frame, so that the long edges are flush with the outside edge of the frame. Nail the pieces in place with 2-inch nails from a pneumatic pin nailer. Use one nail every 4 inches. This is the outer stop.

Caulk along the outside edges of the outer stop with painter's caulk. Smooth the caulk into the seams with a dampened finger for a good seal. Apply a ¼-inch-thick bead of 100 percent silicone caulking to the inside edge of the outer stop. Position two suction cup glass handles to the window glass. Flip the lock switch on the cup to the "on" position the press the thumb plunger to suction the cup to the glass. Lift the glass into the window frame and set it against the inside of the outer stop, pressing it into the silicone caulk.

Have a helper hold the glass upright so that it stays against the outer stop. Install four push-type metal glass points along each edge of the glass. Use a wide wood chisel to press the points into the wood, along the edges of the glass, pressing it tight to the outer stop. Caulk the edges of the glass on the outside and inside with silicone caulk.

Install the inner stop pieces against the inside of the glass, nailing them in place as you did the outer stop. Caulk the edges of the inner stop with painter's caulk, smoothing the caulk with a dampened finger as you did on the outer stop.

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References

  • “Stanley Complete Doors and Windows”; Meredith Books; 2007
  • “Sheds, Gazebos & Outbuildings”; Phillip Schmidt; Creative Publishing; 2002
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