How to Build a DIY Window Plant Shelf

Herbs in Kitchen Window

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Yield: 1 shelf
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $40

Your house plants will sing your praises when you give them this sunny window perch. A clear floating shelf is an ideal place for your aloe vera, jade, croton, papyrus, and other sun-loving house plants to soak up the rays.

The key ingredient to this attractive, practical shelf is clear acrylic shelving. Sheets of 1/4-inch-thick acrylic form transparent shelves that permit light to pass through, for an airy yet stable window plant stand.

DIY Window Plant Shelf Basics

This plant shelf is 18 inches wide, 30 inches high, and 3 1/2 inches deep. The right end of its three shelves are supported by braces attached to the right side of the window frame.

The other end of the shelves is supported by a vertical two-by-two with three 3 1/2 inch horizontal braces. A threaded stem furniture glide is drilled into and inserted at the top end of the two-by-two. This lets you tension-mount the two-by-two in the window frame—no screws or nails to mar the surface.

Depending on your needs, the shelf can be reversed from right to left. Design the height, width, and depth of the plant shelf based on your window's measurements.

  • Height must be the height of the window frame since the middle support needs to reach from the sill to the top of the window frame.
  • Because longer expanses of acrylic will bow, keep the width fairly short, around 18 to 24 inches.
  • The standard window depth is 3 1/2 inches, but adjust accordingly to your window.

Safety Considerations

Limit weight loads on this plant shelf to 20 pounds or less. To reduce weight, use resin pots instead of terracotta. Distribute smaller pots along the entire length rather than placing one, large pot in the middle.

When cutting and snapping off the acrylic, use protective eye gear.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Plastic sheet cutting tool
  • Metal straightedge
  • Marker
  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • Eye protection
  • Miter saw or hand saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Bubble level
  • Speed Square


  • 1 acrylic sheet, 18-inch by 24-inch by 1/4-inch-thick
  • 1 threaded stem furniture glide, 1 1/2-inch
  • 2 felt furniture glides
  • 1 two-by-two, 4 feet long
  • 1 one-by-two, 4 feet long


  1. Measure Window

    Measure the width and height of the inner dimensions of the window frame. Measure the depth of the window frame.

    This project is based on a window that is 60 inches wide by 30 inches high, with a depth of 3 1/2 inches. The plant shelf extends about one-third of the way across the window.

  2. Cut Wood

    Using the electric miter saw or hand saw:

    • Cut the two-by-two to 29 inches.
    • Cut the one-by-two into six pieces, each piece 3 1/2 inches.
  3. Mark Acrylic Sheet

    Lay the acrylic sheet on top of cardboard on a firm surface like a table. Leave the protective coating on the acrylic for now.

    Mark the cut dimensions on the acrylic sheet: three pieces, each piece 3 1/2 inches by 18 inches.

  4. Score Acrylic Sheet

    Lay the metal straightedge on the acrylic sheet. Hold the plastic cutting tool with the hook end pointing downward.

    Draw the tool across the sheet, initially cutting through the protective coating. Draw two or three more times until thin plastic strips curl off behind the tool. This lets you know that the tool is scoring into the acrylic.


    Draw lightly across the surface. Do not press. Score the sheet, creating a shallow groove. Do not cut through it. With each draw, make sure that the tool remains in the groove.

  5. Snap Sheet

    Lay the sheet on the firm edge of a table. Center one of the scores directly above the edge. With an assistant holding the sheet, fold down the other side until the sheet snaps off at the score line. Repeat until complete.

    Sand off burrs with fine-grit sandpaper. Peel off the protective coating.

  6. Make Vertical Middle Support

    Drill an 11/32-inch diameter hole 1 inch into an end of the two-by-two. Drill at the exact center. Force the threaded base of the glide into the hole. Lightly tap it in with a mallet if needed.

    Add a felt glide to the foot and another glide at the other end of the two-by-two. Fully insert the bottom glide, as it will be fixed and won't be extended later.

  7. Add Middle Support Cross Braces

    Screw three of the 3 1/2-inch braces at 7, 14, and 21 inches, measuring from the bottom. Add a dot of wood glue to the junction. Predrill with a pilot hole, then use one screw. With the Speed Square, make sure that each brace is at a 90-degree angle to the vertical section.


    Remember to measure from the bottom of the bottom glide, not the top of the support. The bottom is the end with the fixed threaded stem glide.

  8. Paint Middle Support and Braces

    If desired, paint the middle support and the braces to match the color of the window frame.

  9. Attach Braces to Window Frame

    Similar to the middle support, add braces to the side of the window frame at 7, 14, and 21 inches high. Use two screws per brace, predrilling with pilot holes to avoid cracking the wood. Do not use wood glue.

  10. Place Middle Support

    Place the support in the window frame. Use one of the acrylic shelves to gauge the distance from the side of the window frame. Turn the glide foot counter-clockwise to extend it. Make sure that the distance from the middle support to the side of the window frame is consistent all the way up and down.

  11. Place Shelves

    Lay the acrylic shelves on the braces. The weight of the plants will hold the shelves in place.