How to Turn an Old Window into a Picture Frame

And now for something completely different.

I’ve had this old window sitting in my basement for almost a year. I bought it at Folk Art Interiors in West Point Grey with the intention of turning it into a picture frame like you see on many Pinterest pages.

This past summer, I finally did it. It was my first time stripping and staining wood, and I gotta say I’m pretty proud of my work!

Here’s what it looked like when I bought it:

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Broken glass pane, badly chipped paint. I brought it to my parents’ place out in Langley because they have the space to do DIY projects like this. The first step was taking out all the glass.

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I left this job to the men

I knew I wanted to put new glass in it anyway, but it turned out it was helpful to remove it so that it was easier to peel, sand, and stain the wood. I used my dad’s heating gun to get all the old paint off, or as much as I could. The heat from the gun caused the paint to bubble, making it slide right off. I also used a chisel and a wire brush.

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I didn’t want to take all the white paint off because the point is that it’s supposed to look old and vintage. But the walls in our apartment are white, so I wanted to strip it down to let the natural wood colour come through.

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Then I used this electric sander to smooth it out, which is so much more fun than rubbing by hand:

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And ta-da:

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I liked how it looked as is, but I was curious to try a natural wood stain and see how that would look. So I applied two coats back at our apartment. It was interesting to work with a stain rather than paint because stain only sticks to the parts of the wood that are sanded well. Otherwise, the wood doesn’t absorb it. You can definitely tell that it’s not an even colour in different places, but that’s part of the charm.

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Then I used a clear satin finish on it to seal the stain.

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Next step was to add the glass panes. We brought the frame into a glass shop and got six panes cut perfectly to fit. This was the most expensive and trickiest part of the process, especially when two panels break on you as you’re trying to put them in. But eventually we got them all put in smoothly and secured with Glazier’s steel push points. These little guys are hard to find but Home Depot carried them. They’re a subtle solution that you don’t see from the good side. We didn’t putty the glass since we weren’t sealing in this window from the elements.

glass halfway in

glass halfway in

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inserting the push points

I ordered some 11″x14″ wedding photos from Shutterfly, centred those into the six frames, and then mounted some leftover black scrapbooking paper behind them. We used good ol’ scotch tape to attach the photos & backings to the window.

IMG_2344It held up great, and this is what you see on the other side:

IMG_2349I’m really pleased with it and love the addition it makes to our dining room wall:

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