Guide to Replacing Broken Window Glass: How to Cut and Install New Glass
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Guide to Replacing Broken Window Glass: How to Cut and Install New Glass

In this factoid the reader will learn how replace broken glass in a single pane window. The reader will also learn how to cut glass properly.

With the return of warm weather the chances are you will soon need to replace a broken window or two. Stones hidden in the grass have a way of finding the nearest window when shot into orbit by a weekend yard worker cutting his or her lawn. Fathers and sons engaged in a game of pitch are a danger to every window within range. A foul ball struck by a young batter shatters the window in the back door. What to do? Call a professional glass person to replace it and pay through the nose or attempt to replace the broken glass yourself? Replacing a broken single pane window isn’t rocket science. Almost anyone can do it with a little instruction and with the proper tools and supplies on hand.

Replacing a single pane glass window is relatively easy. An advanced DIYer can do it in 30 minutes to an hour. An intermediate skilled DIYer can do it in 45 minutes to an hour. A neophyte DIYer can do it in an hour to an hour and a half. On the other hand, if you have a double pane or triple pane window you may need to have a professional do it or you may need to order a new sash. Repairing double pane and triple pane windows require special tools and techniques to accomplish. Some single pane windows use wood or metal strips to hold the glass in place but we will concentrate on windows using glazer-points and glazing to hold the glass in place. If you do encounter a window that uses a metal or wooden strip to hold the glass in place all you have to do is carefully remove the strips, insert the new glass and then carefully replace the strips. Before we get into the actual procedure here is a list of the tools and supplies that you will need to have on hand.


· Torch or heat gun

· Scraper

· Putty knife

· Chisel

· Pliers

· Glass cutter

· Carpenter’s square

· Caulk gun

· Eye protection

· Work gloves

· Window sash paint brush


· Glass or plastic

· Glazing points

· Glazing

· Sandpaper

· Painter’s tape

· Primer

· Paint

Removing the old broken glass

· First remove all the loose glass with pliers, then

· Using a sharp chisel or putty knife flake off the old painted glazing. If it’s really hard use the torch or heat gun to soften it up but be careful to not scorch the wooden window sash or wooden door frame in the process

· As the glazing points are exposed pull them free using pliers

· Once you have removed all of the glass, scrape the “L” channel clean with a scraper or chisel being careful to not gouge the channel in the process

· Once you have cleaned all the chunks of glazing from the channel sand the channel down to bare wood

· Now it’s time to measure the inside width and height of the frame for the new glass. After measuring twice to make sure you get an accurate measurement subtracts 1/8” from the width and height, this is the actual size of the glass you will need to buy. Make sure that you tell the home center associate that you already subtracted 1/8” from the measurement or they will automatically subtract another 1/8” from the measurements that you give them and that could cause major problems for you.

How to cut your own glass

Most home centers and hardware stores will cut the glass to the exact size that you need but if you’re anything like me you have an assortment of glass on hand and may have a piece that would fit if it was just slightly smaller. Cutting glass yourself isn’t all that difficult if you follow the five easy steps that I’m about to outline here. Glass today isn’t cheap so if you have a piece on hand now’s the time to learn the art of glass cutting. Here we go.

· Lay the glass on a clean flat surface such as a work table or a piece of MDF placed across sawhorses

· Measure the required distance down from the top edge and mark with a Sharpie™ or grease pencil

· Using the carpenter’s square as a straight edge, score the glass using the carbide wheel of the glass cutter. Always lubricate the cutter with a single drop of light oil before using

· You only get one shot at this so hold the square firmly in place with one hand while holding the cutter in the other. Holding the cutter perpendicular to the sheet of glass pull it across in a single, firm stroke. Listen for a grinding or crackling sound as you score the sheet of glass. If you don’t hear this grinding and/or crackling sound try the cutter on a different spot. If you still don’t hear it you need to replace the cutter with a new one because the carbide cutting wheel is wore out. Score only one side of the glass

· Line up the score line over the edge of the table and then tap along the score line with the back of the class cutter

· Now, grip the side hanging off the edge of the table and snap downward, breaking it from the pane leaving a clean even edge

· Repeat these steps for cutting the pane to width

Installing the new glass

· Prime the bare wood of the “L” channel and let dry thoroughly before applying a thin coat of glazing compound, about 1/16” thick, with the putty knife

· Position the new glass and push firmly in place. Make sure that it’s in contact with the glazing compound on all four sides

· Using your putty knife push the glazer’s points into place to secure the glass in the frame

· Using the caulking gun, apply an even bead of glaze around the window frame

· Use the putty knife held at a 45° angle to create an even professional looking appearance to the glazing

· Allow to dry thoroughly then prime and paint to match the window frame

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