The Easiest Way To Replace Window Glass

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Things like a heavy storm or a rogue ball can shatter the window and leave your home vulnerable to different elements like dust and insects. Luckily, replacing a window glass is pretty straightforward and might be your next DIY project.

The easiest way to replace window glass is to do it yourself. All you have to do is carefully remove the old window, prepare the frame, measure the window pane for a replacement, apply the putty, remove the stop and replace the sealant, and install the new glass.

Let’s see if you can replace the window glass yourself or if you need to hire someone to do it. We’ll also look at all the materials you need, the steps you need to follow, and how much this DIY project will cost you.  

Can You Replace Your Own Window Glass? 

Service man measuring window for installation

You can replace the window glass on your own, but you will need to know a few things. For instance, you need to know the quantity and type of glazing tape you need, how to remove the pane from the frame, how to get the correct measurements, and how to get the proper window glass, depending on the kind of frame. 

If all of this seems too daunting for you, or if you’ve never done a similar DIY project before, you can consider hiring a professional. But keep in mind that it’ll cost you quite a lot.

Also, it would be best if you didn’t try to replace the glass without having the correct safety gear, such as cut-proof glass and eye protection. 

What Materials Do You Need? 

Once you decide to go ahead and replace the window glass yourself, here are the things you’ll need:

  • Eye protection
  • Cut-proof glass
  • Duct tape or painter’s tape
  • Heat gun
  • Measuring tape
  • New glass pane or glass sheet
  • Glass points or double-sided foam tape if you have aluminum or vinyl windows
  • Wire brush
  • Putty knife
  • Caulking gun 

How to Replace Window Glass 

Replacing window glass is easy. Here’s a step-by-step process.

Remove the Broken Glass/Whole Window

You can usually replace the glass while the sash is in the frame; however, removing the frame and doing all the work on a table is much easier. Wear protective clothing and pull out the pieces of broken glass. You might need to lightly tap the glass using a hammer to make a break line.

If the glass doesn’t come out easily, apply duct tape to the middle of the window pane, making sure to cover the cracked and shattered glass. Then, use a heat gun and chisel or scraper to remove the points and putty to pull out the pane.

If silicone or old tape is holding the glass, you should run a utility knife between the old material and the glass to break the seal.

  • Remove slider windows by lifting the sash from the track and pulling it out.
  • For double-hung windows, press the vinyl jamb liners present on each side, pull out the top of the sash, and slightly twist it to release the latch springs present at the bottom.
  • Remove the window release catches present in the hinges for modern casement windows.
  • If you have older windows, you might need to unscrew them from the hinges present at the bottom and top to remove them.

Prepare the Frame

Once you remove all the broken glass, clean the frame before replacing the glass. Use a wire brush and a vacuum, or use a slightly damp rag to wipe the frame. You can also apply linseed oil to the rabbet to help the putty stick.

Measure the Window Pane

Measure the width and height of the opening in two or more places, along with the thickness of the old glass. Note down these measurements and order or cut the glass (from a large glass sheet) 1/16 inches shorter in each direction. Test-fit the window pane dry before you put it in place.

In addition to the glass, make sure to get some glass points. If you’re new to such home improvement projects, glass points are metal triangles that keep the glass securely into the putty. For aluminum or vinyl windows, you need silicone or double-sided foam tape. 

Apply the Putty 

Make a thin rope using a glazing compound and press it into the rabbet’s corner. Next, press it into place firmly using a putty knife such that there’s a narrow bed made using putty for the glass pane to rest against. 

Once you’re done applying, check that the glass fits. To do so, press the glass gently into the putty bed and make sure it lies flat against the entirety of the rabbet. Next, place a glazing point into the frame every 6 inches. 

Next, take some putty and roll a rope about ¾-inch thick. While it doesn’t have to be perfect, try to make the diameter fairly uniform. Then, with your thumb, take this rope and press it against the frame and the glass. 

Use a rag to apply linseed oil to the putty knife periodically, and press the rope again with swiping motions after every couple of inches. Continue working in the same direction. Hold the knife at the right angle, so the putty isn’t visible inside. Press it firmly and smooth the putty by drawing the putty knife along the line. 

Finally, all that’s left to do is to add the finishing touches. If you see slight ridges on the putty, lightly wipe them with your finger to smoothen them. Again, ensure you go the opposite of what you did when applying the putty. 

Remove Stop & Replace Sealant 

Remove the vinyl stop with the help of a small pry bar or a putty knife. Make sure you work carefully so that you don’t crack the stop. You can now bring in the new pane and test it to see how it fits. Next, scrape the old sealing tape and use a paint thinner to clean the surface. 

Cut the sealing tape into small pieces and press them into the rabbet. Put a bead of silicone sealant on the rabbet before putting the glass.

Install Glass

Set the new window pane in its place very carefully. Remember, you can’t adjust it once you put it on the tape. Finally, put the vinyl stop back to secure the new glass, and you’re all done with window replacement! 

Note that if your window pane is held in place using a rubber basket, you need to slip the gasket onto the corners of the glass and press firmly so that the gasket sits tight at all edges. Only then should you set the window pane in the frame. 

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Window Glass?

The worker inserts glass into the window frame

On average, replacing window glass can cost around $280 to $325. However, it can also go as high as $800, depending on how much the window is damaged. Minor repairs don’t cost more than $100, but replacing a window completely can cost significantly more.

The cost also depends on the kind of glass you opt for and the window you need to replace.

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