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Choosing Windows for a Garden Building

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 19 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Garden Building Shed Summer House Sheds

When you're planning a garden building you're likely to be looking to put windows in it, but what type of windows? Basically your choice is between plastic or glass. For the purposes of this article we're going to ignore greenhouses, this is more about wooden garden buildings.

Glass vs Plastic Windows

Glass will probably last longer than plastic and can be cleaned effectively. Plastic discolours as time goes by and will eventually become opaque. More importantly it scratches easily so it's hard to clean it without spoiling it. Rubbing gently with a soft cloth and warm soapy water will keep it at its best.

As far as theft protection goes, thin glass will shatter quite easily, particularly the horticultural glass that you would put in a potting shed or a an ordinary shed where you are bringing seedlings on in front of the window. Toughened plastic wouldn't shatter but it could be pushed inward if pressed hard enough. Bolstering the frame or even installing bars might be worthwhile if you have expensive garden and power tools stored there.

Double Glazing

With glass you have the option of using double-glazing as well. This is obviously a lot more expensive; it's also much heavier so a sturdier construction will be required for the wall supporting the window and its frame. But it would be well worth it if you are wanting to use a garden building all year round, as in a studio or home office.

You could make double glazing with plastic windows. It would not be as effective as properly made glass double glazing but it would be warmer and quieter than just one pane. All you would need to do is add a second layer on the inside. Most wooden panelled sheds and outbuildings will have a recess in the inside of the frame and you could screw a retaining batten into it to hold the second pane. Use screws rather than nails as you'd probably have to remove the inner pane annually to clear out dust, dirt and insects.

Replacing Plastic with Glass

If you've bought a shed or summer house as a kit the windows will have been provided with it and are usually single glazed plastic, glass with up-market buildings. There's nothing to stop you replacing the plastic windows in a shed or summerhouse with glass, if you wanted to. Just measure up the plastic ones that came with the building, get glass cut at a glaziers and put them into the frames in place of the plastic ones.

This assumes that the frame is a simple wooden one with a slim batten holding the glass or plastic in, which is what you'll find in most pre-fabricated wooden garden buildings. If this all looks a little flimsy consider adding thicker battens around the frame and behind the glass so that it's better supported.

Openings for Windows

You need to think about ventilation as well. In a small single skinned wooden shed you are likely to have a single, fixed plastic window but as there will be chinks in the wooden panelling this is likely to be enough.

With a potting shed you need to be able to control the temperature so at least one opening window is vital. Potting sheds usually have top hung windows so that the heating effect of the glass continues to benefit the plants while air moves in and out underneath the opened pane.

Even in a larger shed, good ventilation will help prevent condensation which can cause rust on tools and metal fittings. You are more likely to see casement windows on sheds, which are no problem as long as you take care with placement. There's a chance that opening a casement window can hurt someone walking past so it's best to site them where there are no adjacent paths.

Take Your Pick

The best idea is to go to a garden centre where there is a large selection of sheds, summerhouses and other garden buildings on view. Browse through them and look at the window options then pick the one that you think will suit you best. Whether you then go home and build it yourself or buy one there and then, you'll have been able to make an informed choice.

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