How to Build a Cold Frame | This Old House

Senior Technical Editor, Mark Powers uses rot-resistant planks and a salvaged window to build a protective box that extends the growing season. (See below for a shopping list and tools.)

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Not all gardeners have the luck to live in temperate climes. Instead of battling frost, install a cold frame to protect your plants like a mini greenhouse. Its natural warmth lets you foster seedlings in early spring and keep veggies going through fall and even into winter. This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers shows how to build the box from rot-resistant wood and a salvaged window. Once it’s finished, choose a south-facing spot in your yard where water won’t pool, and enjoy all that extra gardening time.

Shopping List for How to Build a Cold Frame:
– 5/4×6 decking by Cambia: Get at least three 8-foot boards.
– Salvaged window sash
– Pavers. Get enough to set beneath each side of the frame.
– Construction adhesive
– 1 5/8-inch deck screws
– 2 1/2-inch deck screws
– Brass sash pull
– 4-inch galvanized strap hinges. Get two to attach the window to the frame
– 4-inch removable-pin hinges. Get one for the inside of each corner to make the frame collapsible.
– 1/2-inch dowel. Get at least 6 feet to make venting poles of various lengths.

Tools for How to Build a Cold Frame:
– Miter saw
– Jigsaw
– Drill/driver
– Straightedge
– Clamps
– Caulk gun
– Garden rake
– Garden spade

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How to Build a Cold Frame | This Old House


  1. R R M on April 22, 2021 at 12:34 am

    show us how to keep ice cream outside all winter

  2. MikeOfKorea on April 22, 2021 at 12:34 am

    I feel like I just listened to someone explaining the pitch and roll equations of a weather satellite… however, I’ll give it a try!

  3. Nicole on April 22, 2021 at 12:35 am

    That window pane is going to rot out in a season or two… what a waste

  4. It's Just Renee` on April 22, 2021 at 12:35 am

    YOU LOST ME AT HELLO , I would’ve been better off if you had resorted to geometry though I don’t understand that either.

  5. HS Shin on April 22, 2021 at 12:36 am

    Explanation is confusing, and video is shaky. Thumbs down.

  6. nmharleyrider on April 22, 2021 at 12:45 am

    That was way too difficult. There must be an easier way

  7. Moon Magic on April 22, 2021 at 12:45 am

    How much was the cost of building these?

  8. Chewning Witmer on April 22, 2021 at 12:49 am

    You’ll find all the inspiration you need on Woodglut.

  9. Melissa Hahn on April 22, 2021 at 12:51 am

    How did you determine what height it needed to be? I assume there needs to be some clearance between the plant and the “lid” when it’s closed?

  10. ohsnapiam59 on April 22, 2021 at 12:53 am

    Why are all This Old House videos so technical and confusing? I have seen other videos explain this a lot simpler.

  11. Casper Wallace on April 22, 2021 at 12:55 am

    That looks really good, but the information is way too fast in comparison to what you’re doing.

  12. 10pennysweets on April 22, 2021 at 12:57 am

    Admirable craftsman but way over my head…

  13. thpt on April 22, 2021 at 1:01 am

    I would really like to see this video without the Very Exciting Shaky Camerawork With Extra Wow Jumpy Zoom which does not add excitement or wow, but did reduce clarity, please.

  14. san379 on April 22, 2021 at 1:03 am


  15. MrBartoriginal on April 22, 2021 at 1:04 am

    This can all be built with 2x material with the angled pieces fastened to one complete 2x frame with mastic then all the frames stacked one on top of the other with the glass frame last. To keep it from getting to hot just slide the glass frame down a bit. This isn’t an hard project I built two of these cold frames several years ago in about an hour with no planes & just the window frame measurements. The directions here are quite simple they even have more work put into them than necessary.

  16. Jesse Friel on April 22, 2021 at 1:07 am

    say batons again

  17. Porsche924Tim on April 22, 2021 at 1:08 am

    The person who put this video together must have been on methamphetamines… SLOW DOWN!!!

  18. Charles Damery on April 22, 2021 at 1:12 am

    Nice idea for places where the frost doesn’t go 4 feet into the ground in the winter.

  19. john ryan on April 22, 2021 at 1:12 am

    Hahahaha. Cut your bevel with a jigsaw when you have a mitre saw. That was seriously retarded

  20. pinkdreamer04 on April 22, 2021 at 1:12 am

    Neat greener idea, but I would consider that the paint on the window has a lead based paint.

  21. BuddyClubGardening on April 22, 2021 at 1:19 am

    Wow. That was confusing.

  22. Anthony Coyle on April 22, 2021 at 1:20 am

    This feels like getting directions from the IT department.

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