Upcycle Your Old Windows & Doors.Published on 20th March 2015
We’re very environmentally aware here at Apropos. The three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – feature largely in our ethos, and it’s one of the reasons we like to construct our glass architecture with aluminium frames; yes, it’s strong, malleable and durable, but it’s also eminently recyclable, so when many years hence your Apropos doors, windows or conservatory are no long needed, the frames can go on to find a new life elsewhere.
What does worry us though, is what happens to all of those doors and windows that Apropos glazing has replaced? The vast majority sadly end up in landfill, but there is another way. Relatively quick and cost-effective, with a little bit of DIY knowhow, you could soon turn those left over doors and windows into a homemade conservatory or greenhouse.
There are several ways to approach the challenge, so we’ll start with the least daunting.
The Cold Frame
A cold frame can be a real gardener’s friend and is incredibly simple to build. All you need do is craft a low wooden frame, with a brace in the centre, and lay your old windows over the top. You could add a hinge for ease of access, but it’s not entirely necessary.
The Mini ‘Conservatory’
If you have a small garden, or only have access to a small number of windows, a mini ‘conservatory’ could be just the way to go.
Start with a solid base – an old table is perfect for a raised platform – then construct a frame. Equally sized windows work best. Secure three sides together with angle irons (four, if you prefer a top-opening cube, rather than front-opening), then attach the fourth with hinges. For an angled roof, place two more windows on top, but if you want to maximise the potential space, insert the bracket of a hanging basket between the frames before securing – that way you can grow in the ‘roof space’. During the summer months, it’s best to leave the sides of the structure open for ventilation. For greater protection in winter, cut some MDF to size and nail it over the aperture.
Creating a full-sized greenhouse from recycled doors and windows works to a similar premise, but on a grander scale. If you don’t have enough of your own glazing, check your local reclamation yard.
Start by measuring your resources and planning a design around them. A straightforward cube or rectangle with a flat roofline is the simplest option, although a sloping roof is possible if you have the tools and expertise.
While it is possible to self-build a greenhouse from scraps, it is at least a two-person job, and for safety we’d recommend taking your design to a local builder. As you’ll be supplying most of the materials, you’ll be paying largely for the tradesman’s time and proficiency, which will keep the costs down, but you’ll still have the peace of mind that comes from a professional job, while making the most of your assets.