How to Build an Old Window Frame using Lumber

Easy to Make Old Window Frame Backdrop Project

Thankfully Summer is still here and I am loving the time outdoors building simple things and enjoying every ray of sunshine. Unfortunately, lazy summer days don’t last forever and before we know it Fall and Halloween decorating seasons will be here. This year I am getting a bit of a head start by making background decor items while there is lots of time. The first of these is this old window frame project.

A DIY decorative window frame that looks like an old window.

There are so many gorgeous examples of home decor using old window frames, I love all the different old window crafts and window frame ideas. Unfortunately, there are not many old pane windows available where I live and if you do find one, they come with an antique price.

Its also much less work to build one of your own then it is to try and find an affordable one in the architectural resale places or buy one online. In addition, this one weighs less than half of a real window as there is no glass, and the wood is less than an inch thick.

My youngest son decided to hang out in the garage with me, and even with visiting and figuring out what leftover wood we could use it took us less than two hours to build the window frame and if you have to buy the lumber etc, I guesstimate the cost at under $20 for this three by four foot  large window frame.

Supplies for Building an Old Window Frame

2 – pieces of 1 by 6 lumber 4 feet long.

2 – pieces of 1 by 6 lumber 3 feet long.

2 – pieces of 1 by 2 lumber at least 40 and 30 inches long (you will trim them to size)

4 –  L-shaped flat brackets

4 – straight flat brackets

Sandpaper 60,120, 150 grit

Wood glue, clamps and wood screws.

Old Window Frame Tutorial

Start by sanding all your lumber with 60 grit and then 120 grit sandpaper.

Cut the ends of your 1 by 6-inch lumber at 45-degree angles.

Cutting the ends of lumber for a DIY decorative window frame.

Make sure the angles are cut in the right direction so that the four pieces of lumber fit together.

Apply wood glue to the seams.

Applying glue to an old window project.

Attach clamps to hold the corners together.

Using clamps and brackets to hold the corners of a DIY old window frame project together.

Attach the L brackets on all four corners and let dry.

Making the Panes

There are a couple of ways to do this.   Now that you have the wood frame put together, measure the opening and cut your two cross pieces to the exact length.

Find the center of the 1 by 2.  The actual width of the 1 by 2″ board is 1.5″, so measure back from center 3/4 of an inch each way and mark with a pencil.

Marking the cross piece for a DIY window frame project.

Using a router or a chisel, remove half the thickness of the wood between the two marks.

The cross over seam on a DIY old window project.

Alternative Method

Measure your first board and attach at the middle. Measure the distance from the edge on both sides and cut two pieces.  Glue and clamp in place,  use a straight bracket to hold the cross piece.  Fill the seams with wood putty, let dry, and sand well.

Window frame craft project for interior decor.


This simple project was finished using two coats of grey chalk paint, and one coat of white chalk paint.  I sanded well between each coat with  150 grit sandpaper.

I did not distress my frame,  but you most certainly can.

Using in Decor

There are so many uses for this large backdrop, it adds height to any vignette, you can hang large decor items from it, or banners, wreaths, galvanized signs, mini lights, etc.  So many fun choices.

A decorative window frame project using lumber. Neutral backdrop for fall decorating.

This frame was made for my fall decor, but today’s post I am posting plain pictures of it so the frame itself stands out.  I will share more images of the frame once I complete my fall mantel.  Here is a neutral fall home tour showing you some other ideas I have had using backdrops for fall decorating.

A large white wood DIY window frame backdrop in white with a minimalist green wreath.

Related Posts

It can often be much cheaper and much quicker to create your own backdrop that it is to look for something vintage you can fix up for the right price.  I find everyone of my DIY backdrops very helpful when decorating on a budget.

Here is a tutorial for a Farmhouse DIY door backdrop I made two, one is on my front porch and the other is in our living room this summer.  I decorated them with simple Forsythia wreaths, but they will work for seasonal decor as well.

A DIY farmhouse door for farmhouse decor. Its a white backdrop for a pretty yellow wreath.llow wreath.

Another simple DIY build you may like are these full sized DIY Shutters for Decorating , so cheap to make and my son and I made two of them in a few minutes.   You will see them in various posts throughout Pretty DIY Home, as I use them regularly.

Using DIY shutters for fall decorating. Easy to make reclaimed wood shutters.


  1. I really like the idea to build a old window frame. I truly says that you create a new look in the frame. Definitely Hard work. I really inspire. I try to follow your step.Retaining Walls

  2. Love this idea and with a mirror behind would be brilliant for a garden

  3. Love how this turned out! So cool that you were able to build it with your son too! Looks so lovely with the wreath hanging on it as well!

  4. I love how this turned out! What a great idea and it looks stunning too.

  5. Ah yes to this. The struggle is real. We can’t seem to find old windows here in South Africa too and when do I’d have to take out a loan to afford them 😀 Great tutorial Leanna. Thanks so much

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thanks, Michelle, I can just imagine one on your blog made with all kinds of natural branches and woods.

  6. This is so gorgeous! I’ve always wanted a window frame as decor but they’re so expensive! I’d never thought of making one.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      I am so glad the post helped you. I am quite startled at the comments about prices, I assumed it was regional. I guess vendors know we want them.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you, sometimes you just got to DIY. Thanks for commenting.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

  7. Awesome job Leanna! And how fun to do it with your son!! I found my window on the sidewalk during a Sunday morning walk, and Sailor helped with creating the dividers and adding the chicken wire. But apparently they ARE in high demand; I have seen windows in stores with ridiculous price tags. Your ingenuity is smart ! Good for you to be starting on Fall and Halloween now; I am trying to do the same thing. I am pestering Sailor to pull down the Fall Harvest bins, and he looks at me like I have grown 2 heads! He doesn’t understand- we have a lot of work ahead of us! You bet I am pinning this !

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Right on Kristine. We need to get started early especially on the various backgrounds etc. From now until the end of the year we don’t really have time for extras. That was a painful lesson learned when I began blogging. Like Sailor, Hubs thinks I have lost my mind. lol

  8. I really luv this project. It has inspired me to make one for my sunroom! I’d luv to invite you to share it with us at Wall to Wall DIY Wednesday, which runs thru Mondays! Best, Ann

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      I was under the impression that they were inexpensive where you live. I just assumed. I love the window crafts and I like how thinner this frame.

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