How to Build a Window Box

Window boxes add charm and a splash of color to a home's exterior. This project is ideal for a novice DIYer and can be completed in a day.


  • electric drill
  • drill bits
  • hammer
  • tape measure
  • clamps
  • 2-1/2" sash brush


  • 3/4" cypress or cedar boards
  • 2-3/4" concrete screws
  • wood filler
  • 1 quart primer
  • pressure treated 2x4s
  • 1-1/4" exterior wood screws
  • 1-1/4" rustproof nails
  • medium-grit sandpaper
  • 1 quart exterior paint (oil or latex, but same as primer)
Exterior Shot of Window Box

Exterior Shot of Window Box

Step 1: Cut List

Cut 3/4"-thick cypress or cedar boards to following dimensions:
(3) 8" wide x window length
(2) 1-1/4" wide x window length
(3) 1-1/4" wide x 5-3/4" long
(2) 8" wide x 11" long

Cut 2" x 4" pressure-treated lumber into three (3) 8"-long pieces.

Step 2: Secure the Cleats

When it's full of plants and soil, a window box can be very heavy. The best way to mount it is to properly secure it to the exterior wall using cleats. To create cleats, cut three 8" pieces of pressure-treated 2x4. Hold the 2x4 tightly against the exterior wall and drill two pilot holes where you'd like screws (Image 2). Drive two 3/4" concrete screws through pilot holes to secure cleat to wall (Image 3). Repeat process on other cleats.

Step 3: Assemble Front and Back

Place bottom of window box flat on work surface. Stand front of box on end and press tightly against side of box bottom. Clamp or hold in place, then drill pilot holes every eight inches using 1/8" drill bit (Image 1). Insert 1-1/4" screws into pilot holes (Image 2). Remove clamps (if used) and repeat on back side of box.

Step 4: Assemble Sides

Drill Needed for Window Box Project

Drill Needed for Window Box Project

When measuring dimensions of side panels, allow an extra 1-1/2" overhang on back side to cover up exposed cleat on house. Attach sides to planter using 1-1/4" wood screws.

Step 5: Attach Trim

Strengthen Window Box With Nails

Strengthen Window Box With Nails

Hammer in nails during window box do-it-yourself project to strengthen finished product.

Cut two 1-1/4"-wide trim pieces to exact length of front panel of window box. Make sure that each trim piece is flush with top and bottom of front panel, then tap into place with nails. Position three 1-1/4"-wide x 5-2/4"-long pieces on left and right side of box and one centered. Tack into place with nails.

Step 6: Prime and Paint

Paint Window Box

Paint Window Box

Use paintbrush to paint wood window box the desired color.

Using a sash brush, apply primer to window box. If using a dark color like red or black, start with a tinted primer coat for better coverage. Allow primer to dry, then apply one to two coats of exterior semi-gloss paint.

Pro Tip: For a smooth finish on the window box, fill nail and screw holes with wood filler before painting. Allow to dry, then sand entire box with medium-grit sandpaper. As this is an exterior project, this finishing step is optional.

Step 7: Hang the Window Box

Attach Window Box to Window

Attach Window Box to Window

After staining window box desired color, use drill to affix window box to exterior of window with screw.

Holding window box in place against cleats, drive four screws through back panel into each 2" x 4" block.

Pro Tip: If you wish, decorative brackets can be added under the window box for additional support and architectural detail.

Step 8: Create Drainage

Drill Bit Use

Drill Bit Use

Use drill bit to mark screw holes on back of window box.

Using a 3/8" drill bit, drill holes straight through bottom panel to allow for drainage. Drill one hole roughly every six square inches.

Step 9: Fill Window Box

Add a 1" to 2" layer of gravel in the bottom of window box, to allow excess water to drain. Cover gravel with potting soil, filling box to about an inch from top. Add plants and thoroughly water.

More on Window Boxes

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