How to Replace Window Glass
A rogue baseball or heavy storm can shatter your window, leaving your home open to the elements. Fix it quickly with our helpful tips.
Replacing a broken single-glaze pane is messy and requires attention to detail, but with a bit of practice you can learn to install the glass safely and make smooth glazing lines. Your technique will depend on what kind of window pane you have. A wood frame takes more steps to repair but allows you to maintain the vintage character of your home. A vinyl frame is likely from a new home and is much easier to work with. Double-glazed windowpanes must be produced by a professional; you cannot cut them yourself.
In most cases it is best to have a local hardware store or glass specialist cut the glass for you. Unless the pane is very small, order double-thick glass; single-thick glass breaks easily. In a door, sidelight, or other high-traffic areas, order shatter-resistant glass. Be sure to wear thick gloves, long clothing, and protective eyewear when handling shattered glass. Tiny, nearly invisible splinters can cause injury. To seal the window, apply traditional glazing putty (also called glazing compound) with a putty knife. You can also buy glazing putty in a caulk tube, but applying with a knife creates a tighter bond and a smoother surface once you get the hang of it. For double-glazed panes, sealing tape usually needs to be replaced. Rubber gaskets can often be reused, but only if they are unbroken and have not dried and become brittle. Caulking needs to be scraped away and replaced. Wood molding can usually be reused, but you may replace it with new molding. We have tips for repairing and sealing the glass in all kinds of window frames below.