Fixing a Broken Window

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated December 13, 2021)

Fixing the glass in a broken window can be an unnecessarily expensive project for any homeowner. Considering what contractors charge, you may want to seriously consider doing your own glass repair. Contrary to what many people think, this is something that anyone can do, all that is needed is a few simple tools, new window glass, and some time.

When you go to purchase your new glass, you need to make sure that you have measured all of the openings where the glass is going to be going. Take your measurements to the clerk at the glass store, and have them cut that new pane 1/8" smaller than the dimensions you took. Doing this ensures that there is a proper fit and reduces the likelihood that you will need to use a glasscutter later on.

These are the materials you need to do the job:

  • New glass
  • Glazing points
  • Glazing compound
  • Stiff putty knife
  • Towel
  • Single-edged razor
  • Glass cutter
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Silicone caulk
  • Straightedge or ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Paint primer
  • Paint to match exterior trim
  • Small paint brush

After you have collected all of your materials (most are available at any hardware store) you are finally ready to begin the physical process of replacing your window. To begin, you are going to need to remove what is left of the broken glass. This can be done by placing your towel over the glass and then breaking the glass. (The towel stops the glass fragments from going everywhere.) Once you have broken the glass, remove the glass by using careful wiggling motions. Be really careful; you don't want to cut yourself on any sharp edges.

Take your stiff putty knife and remove the old glazing compound from around the edges of the window frame. It may be difficult to do, since it could be extremely hardened and stuck on, so have some patience as you do this. Keep an eye out for any glazing points that may be stuck in the wooden frame, and use your needle nose pliers to remove them from the wood. These points are the small metal fasteners that typically are used to hold in the glass. If you have ever changed out the frame on any pictures, then chances are you have seen these before.

When you have removed all of the glass, glazing compound, and fasteners, it is time to prepare the wooden frame for replacement. Do this by using the paint primer on any and all bare wood that was exposed when you were removing the glazing compound. If you are pressed for time, then you may wish to use a fast-drying primer. The primer's purpose is to keep the wood from absorbing the oils that are in the replacement glazing compound.

After the primer has dried, it is time to prepare the windowpane for a tight seal. You do this by applying a thin stream of caulk or a thin coat of glazing compound along the window frame perimeter. If you are using glazing compound, press it into place with your putty knife. Now you are going to place the glass pane into the frame, pressing the glass into the sealant just firmly enough to make the material bead up slightly.

Ensure that the glass stays in place by using your glazing points. Start placing the glazing points about two inches from each of the corners, using two or three on each of the corners. You are going to want to use as many of these fasteners as you can because you do not want to have more than eight inches between each. Press each fastener into the frame using your putty knife.

After you have placed the glass into the frame, use some of the glazing compound to finish that seal you started earlier. Roll the compound in your hands to form a thin rope about 3/8" in diameter and press in the corners formed by the glass and wood. Take your putty knife and press the caulk firmly into the wood, making a beveled angle which projects above the wood, using a single continuous motion.

There may be some excess compound that needs to be scraped off with your putty knife. If you are find yourself needing to scrape off the material, be careful not to disturb the compound. It is going to take about a week to allow the glazing compound to completely dry, so keep an eye out to make sure that there are no leaks if there is any inclement weather. You also do not want to paint the trim until after the caulking material has been dried completely. Prior to painting, affix tape on the glass around the frame. This makes sure that there is not going to be any paint left on the glass, other than a very thin line on the edge of the glass to help maintain the seal.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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