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Windows - Replacing Glass

Replacing Glass
Animation Enhanced


So the neighbor kids had another baseball game in the street. The big kid from across the street hit a homerun – right into your living room. After you tell on him, it’s time to get that pane of glass replaced.

Single panes of glass are easily taken care of. If you have double or triple pane windows, you may need to have the window professionally repaired or order a new sash. We will focus on the single pane problem in this tutorial because it is easily repaired by you. Another factor to consider is using plastic instead of glass. It is more shatter resistant than glass and is actually required by building code in some door applications.


  • Beginner - 1 to 1-1/2 hours
• Intermediate - 45 minutes to 1 hour
• Advanced - 30 minutes to 1 hour
Always wear gloves and eye protection when working with glass.
Dispose of the broken glass safely. Put it in a cardboard box and seal it.
Don't be in a hurry. It is easy to break the new piece of glass if you force it into position.
  Glazing compound is easier to work with if it is warmed up first. Take a small glob and roll it around in your palms to soften it up.

To view a multimedia demonstration of this tutorial, click here.
The demonstration requires Macromedia Flash 4 player. If you don't already have it, click
here to get it.

1.  It is always easier to replace windowpanes if you can remove the door or window and lay it flat. Newer window sashes can snap out of their tracks easily. Doors can be removed from their hinges. If removing the window sash or door is more trouble than it is worth, repair it in place.
2.  Some windows and doors will use steel or wooden strips to hold the windowpane in place. This tutorial focuses on a typical glazed-in window. If you determine strips are used instead of glazing points and glazing compound, your must carefully remove the strips to take out the broken glass. Replace the glass and re-install the strips.
3.  Using a putty knife or chisel, flake off the old window glazing. (Figure 1) If you find it too hard to remove, soften the glazing with a torch or heat gun. Be careful not to char or burn the window sash or doorframe. As you uncover the old glazing points, pull them out with a pair of pliers.
4.  Once the old glazing and glazing points are removed, you should be able to lift out the broken glass fragments.
5.  Once you have removed all of the glass and loose glazing, use a scraper or chisel to gently clean off all large chunks of glazing on both sides of the L-shaped channel. (Figure 2) Then using a piece of sandpaper, sand the channel down to smooth, bare wood. (Figure 3)
6.  Measure the opening for a new piece of glass. Subtract 1/8 inch from all sides. A hardware store can cut a piece of glass to your exact dimensions. Or you can cut the piece yourself.
7.  To cut your own glass, clean the glass thoroughly. Then lay it on a smooth, flat surface. Using a square, line up your cut and make one pass with a glasscutter. (Figure 4) Line up the scored line on the edge of a workbench. Make sure you wear gloves for this step. Holding down the glass, snap off the cut piece by applying pressure. (Figure 5) Repeat until the glass is cut to the right size.
8.  Returning to the window frame, use a primer or sealer to coat the bare wood. Allow it to dry before proceeding.
9.  When the sealer is dry, use a putty knife to place a thin layer (1/16") of glazing compound in the L-shaped channel. (Figure 6) Gently press the new glass into position, making sure it is contacting the glazing compound on all edges.
10.  Place glazing point flat on the glass surface. Using a putty knife, push glazing points horizontally into the wood frame to hold the glass in position. (Figure 7) Do not bear down on the glazing points or you may break the glass. For smaller windows, put 2 glazing points on each side. For larger windows, position the glazing points 10" apart.  
11.  Apply a bead of glazing compound along each edge of the window. (Figure 8) Use your finger to create an even, sloped surface that runs to the front of the window sash.  
12.  Once the glazing compound has skimmed over, you are ready to paint. (Figure 9) Use a good sash brush that will allow you to get a small bead of paint on the glass (1/16 inch will do). This bead of paint will help seal the window against the outside elements. Careful to dent the glazing compound. It takes a long time for it to dry all the way through.  

Watch the Animation

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Shopping List

Materials Needed  
Glass or plastic
Glazing points
Primer & paint
Masking tape
Torch or heat gun
Tools Needed
Putty knife
Caulk gun
Paint brush
Eye protection

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