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How to: Replace a Broken Window Pane

Learn how to fix a broken window once and you have it in your arsenal of life skills forever. Read what's involved and the step-by-step directions to make this repair and what tools and material you need to do it yourself.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required:

  • Heavy-duty leather gloves
  • Ladder
  • Putty knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Small paint brush
  • Wood chisel

Materials Required

  • Canvas drop cloth
  • Bucket and newspaper
  • Exterior primer
  • Glazing (glazier) points
  • Window glass
  • Window putty

Step  1:   Remove broken glass

Remove broken glass

Protect the area around the window with a canvas drop cloth. Wear heavy-duty leather work gloves and safety glasses and carefully remove as much of the broken glass as possible. Drop the glass pieces into a bucket, then dispose of them by wrapping them in newspaper. Tape the newspaper shut and put it in the trash.

Step  2:   Clean out the rabbet and measure for replacement glass

Clean out the rabbet and measure for replacement glass

The hardest part of this repair is cleaning out the rabbet (the 90-degree notch) in the window frame that the glass sits in. You'll find glass fragments and glazing points--the small triangular steel wedges that hold the pane of glass in place--embedded in the putty. Use a wood chisel, old screwdriver or putty knife to remove the hardened putty and glazing points. In some cases, you may find it easier to soften the putty with a heat gun -- but be careful. Too much heat may damage the paint and create more repair work. Measure the height and width of the opening and then subtract 1/8 inch from these measurements. Order glass cut to fit at a glass or hardware store.

Step  3:   Prime the rabbet

Prime the rabbet

Apply an exterior-grade primer to the rabbet when it's cleaned out. The primer seals the wood and prevents the putty from drying out.

Step  4:   Install the new glass pane

Install new glass pane

Press the glass pane into the opening. Hold it in place with a temporary glob of window putty. It will be removed after the glazing points are installed.

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