DIY Acrylic Storm Windows

13 Sep




ENERGY SENSE DIY skill needed to make storm windows

Chicago Sun-Times, Jan 16, 2005 by JAMES DULLEY

Q. I want to install some exterior storm windows, but the prices are over my budget. I have more time than money now, so I could make them myself. Should I use double panes? Do you have any tips?

A. People often don’t realize how expensive some custom-made exterior storm windows can be. Good quality storm windows use almost as much framing material, glass and weatherstripping as the primary windows and installation and fitting can be quite involved.

If you have time free and medium do-it-yourself skills, you should be able to build some simple, yet attractive, storm windows yourself at a fraction of the cost. They can be as energy-efficient as custom ones, if not more so, because a simple storm panel has fewer joints to leak air.

Double-pane storm windows are somewhat more efficient than single pane ones, but I would not recommend them. This increases the material cost.

The payback from the extra energy savings would be greatest in cold climates, but there you would likely have a problem with fogging between the panes.

Making a storm window

Use standard 1×2-inch lumber to make the rectangular framing for the storm windows. Any type of wood will work fine. Redwood or cedar is rot-resistant and can be stained for a very attractive appearance, but at a higher cost. Pressure-treated lumber holds up well in wet areas, but it does not accept paint well.

Use a miter block to make 45-degree angles. This makes a more professional-looking frame corner joint than just a butt joint. Size the frame slightly smaller than the outdoor window opening to allow room for foam weatherstripping. The compression of the foam will hold the storm window in place.

Use clear acrylic plastic (Plexiglas) for the glazing. Any thickness you find at your home center will work. The efficiency comes from the dead air space, not the plastic or glass itself. If you want something tougher for first-floor windows, use more expensive polycarbonate (bulletproof glass).

If you have a router, make a slot along the inner edge of the frame sides to hold the acrylic sheet. The acrylic sheet will have to be cut slightly larger than the inside of the frame. If you do not have a router, nail some narrow wood stops on each side of the edge to form a slot.

A still easier method is to use a bead of clear silicone caulk to hold the acrylic pane in the frame. In this case, the frame is assembled and painted first. Use a staple gun to staple the frame corners together. Also use a strong glue, such as Gorilla Glue, in all the frame corner joints.

Place the storm window in the opening and note the clearance around it. Buy adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping that is thicker than the gap. Peel off the backing and stick it to the frame. Force the frame into the window opening.

Send questions to James Dulley, Newspaper Name, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244 or go to:

Copyright The Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.


Posted by on September 13, 2007 in Acrylic, DIY, Fabrication


13 responses to “DIY Acrylic Storm Windows

  1. Tim

    October 29, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Do you have photos or diagrams of this process?

  2. preston j sturdevant,jr

    June 20, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    photos and diagrams of process ?

  3. J. Doyle

    July 31, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Anyone have idea of how to make storm windows for windows that are arched at the top? I expect it would be astronomically expensive to have these custom made.

    The three existing windows are leaded single pane and cover much of the bedroom wall. The room gets extremely cold in the winter because of them, and we’ve previously used the stretched polyfilm solution.

    I wondered if it might be feasible to make inserts out of fairly thick plexiglass, that would fit INSIDE the window pane and be hinged so the window could occasionally be opened for ventilation on milder days? I’d like this to look fairly tidy, and be able to see through it. Pipe dream or possible?

  4. Paul Newsom

    August 19, 2008 at 8:24 am

    re: J. Doyle — Arches & lead glass solutions

    What you’ve described requires a visual — how much frame you have? what kind of recessed area does the window sit in? How large are the windows? It’s certainly NOT impossible, or even a pipe dream. It just depends on your woodworking skills and your equipment.

    Arches are made by first tracing the arc, or measuring the arc, and transferring that configuration to a material you can use as a pattern. Could be cardboard initially. Then to 1/2″ MDF.

    You’ll need to have 2x(by) material that is the height of the arc and cut that arc with a band saw. All the cut material needs to be rabbeted on both edges of one side to accept the plexiglass. Almost any woodworker you know or find could do this. It’s a simple operation.

    Because this is a storm window treatment, you may not have to be as picky about the joinery. You can just attached the single plate plexiglass over the front of the frame after you build it. Screw it on after caulking the glass edge with a satisfactory color caulk. It’s not the best, but during deep cold winters such as we have in upstate NY, the aesthetic compromise is small. You might install windows with better joinery on the front and opt for the less-demanding construction on the less visible sides.

    For many years I restored historic homes, and occasionally, (on my own four stained glass windows, for instance) I’ve been able to simply cut plexiglass and screw it to the exterior side of the window frame. Exterior attachment is preferred because, very likely, over time, depending on the construction of your leaded window, the elements will take a toll. But if you are unsure about the exterior application, go ahead and cut the plexiglass to fit over the frame. Then hold it in place temporarily with something like velcro and step back and take a long-distance look. Can you live with that appearance? It will have a glare to it during the daylight hours, but be invisible at night.

    My home is in America’s Painted Ladies, and has the plexiglass installed on the exterior over the stained glass, as above.

    Best of Luck!!

  5. Jodi

    September 15, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    I need to make storm windows out of plexi glass. Please tell me if this method will possibly work. I need to put the storm window on the exterior of the house & my windows have a small 3/4″ ledge at the bottom.

    So, if I have the plexiglass cut an 1″ larger on the 3 sides than my windows, then put the 1/4″ wide 1/2″ thick foam weatherstrip tape on all sides of the storm window – then the plexiglass could sit on the 3/4″ ledge (on the top of weatherstripping) & be held to the outside of the window using plastic mirror holders or something similar that would allow me to remove the storm window without removing the holders.

  6. Jimmy

    September 27, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    I am looking to make shutters or storm windows for the purpose of protecting my house from hurricane winds of 120 mph.

    I just went through a hurricane. Winds were probably about 80-90 mph. I used plywood to board over the windows. That worked fine, but much of the plywood warped in ensuing rainfall.

    I would like to have stronger coverings and know that they will last for many years and uses.

    Is acrylic appropriate for this?

    I am thinking of screwing it to either the window frame or the the window itself.

  7. Shendoboy

    October 25, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I have just installed clear 1/8″ plexiglass panels as storm windows. I have a 1915 Italianate Revival mansion-type home with many odd custom windows such as leaded beveled glass circular & sunburst windows. The clear plexiglass is an efficient, inexpensive, do-it-yourself option & works great. I purchased pre-cut panels fron J Freeman in Dorchester, Mass & 22 panels cost me $400 incl S/H. I installed them by drilling spaced holes with a Dremel & attaching the panels using rubber backed grommet washers from Lowes with brass wood screws. The edges were sealed with clear silicone. Hdwre costs were approx $75. My net cost was under $25 per window. The panels are ultra-clear & we instantly noticed how much quieter they were to outside noise. I esp like the fact that they are more aesthetic in that they leave the original old windows in view without the ugly aluminum storm window frames. I expect to recover the cost within 2 years.

    • Fearless Al

      May 18, 2009 at 12:04 pm

      Shendoboy: By “silicone” I assume you mean applied as an adhesive that permanently sticks to both surfaces, rather than applied as a solid gasket of silicone rubber. So, does this mean you never open your windows? Even with my allergies, I can’t imagine running A/C when its nice enough outside to open the windows.

    • Fran

      August 16, 2009 at 8:18 pm

      where did you buy the plexiglass and did they cut it for you to size?

  8. Nick

    November 22, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I would like to make storm windows using a PVC frame material around clear acrylic. Can the framing material be purchased, what is the approx. cost per lineal foot, and where can I purchase the material? How are the corners of the PVC frame glued/welded and what type of sealant, if any, do I use to seal the acrylic panel into the frame? Thanks for your help.

  9. Bob

    December 3, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Hi Shendoboy,

    Would you be able to email me a photo of what you did?

    I need to do the exact same thing! Thank you SO much.


  10. Geoffrey Vitale

    October 4, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    We making a sort of makeshift wintarium wall (i.e. not solarium!!)protecting the verandah from heavy snow blowing in. It will require 4ft x 12ft of protective transparent material. Acrylic, plexiglass, lexan. The lexan is expensive and apparently gets brittle at – 20 C. What transparent materials would be advisable? acrylic? And what thickness … is .80 enough? The other standard size appears to be .118 (Sorry about the metric – that’s how they are sold in Quebec!


    Last year we tried a roll of transparent plastic — when the weather turned really cold it just split and tore

  11. Don

    December 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I have a large 35 year old single glaze wooden bow picture window on the front of my house that I would like to put a storm window on . Any suggestions on type of glass, lexan, frames and how to make. Should it be put on the inside or the outside? Thank you for your help!


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