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Broken Window? No Problem. How to Replace Window Panes

By Brett Freeman
Broken Window? No Problem. How to Replace Window Panes

The sound of a window breaking is usually accompanied by a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach, followed by, "That was a really stupid thing to do." But if your window is of the single pane variety, replacing it can be relatively...painless, so to speak. You can use the same procedure to replace a window that's cracked, or panes of glass that simply have been jarred loose in the frame.

Replacing Broken Windows: Out with the Old

Before replacing broken windows, make sure you remove all of the leftover material. If most of the glass is missing, just pick the remaining shards out of the frame, starting at the top. Otherwise, tape an X across the remaining glass using masking tape or duct tape to keep shards from going astray. For larger windows, use additional strips of tape to form a square inside of the X.

Begin removing the window putty where the glass meets the frame using a putty knife, utility razor, or flathead screwdriver. This will expose the metal glazier points holding the window in place. Remove these, being careful not to let the window fall, then remove the window. With the glass gone, use your screwdriver or a wire brush to scrape all of the remaining window putty out of the frame.

In With the New

Roll window putty between your hands to form it into a thin rope, slightly thicker than a licorice lace. The putty will become easier to shape as it warms in your hands. Using a putty knife, press this into place around the frame where the new window will go. Next, press the window into position.

To place larger panes of glass, create a handle by tearing off two six-inch pieces of duct tape. Stick the two pieces together for three inches, then fold the two sides away from each other, forming a "T" shape, where the top of the "T" is the adhesive side of the two strips of tape. Stick this against the center of the window, and you've got your handle.

With the window in place, cut away any excess putty. Press glazier points into place with a screwdriver or putty knife every six inches to secure the window, being careful not to put too much pressure against the glass. Next, make another rope of window putty, this one slightly narrower than a licorice whip. Press it into place around the edge of the glass, then use a putty knife to bevel it at roughly a 30 degree angle. Again, cut or wipe away any excess putty (it will be hard to remove when it dries). Give the putty a week or two to harden, then paint it to prevent it from drying out.

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