Broken window glass is a nuisance most homeowners deal with at some point. But not all glass is equal, and a few factors affect how easy of a fix your window will be.
For example, replacing a piece of glass in a single-pane window frame is straightforward. On the other hand, replacing double-paned glass in an aluminum frame requires a new insulated glass unit.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re trying to repair broken window glass.
How to Repair Broken Window Glass in a Single Pane Window with a Wooden Frame
Single pane windows are the easiest to repair. They aren’t sealed or filled with an insulator, and there’s only one sheet of glass.
If you need to replace a sheet of glass in a single pane window with a wooden frame, here’s what to do.
Remove the Sash
Before replacing the glass in your window, you need to remove the sash so you can lay it flat. This step depends upon the type of window you have.
- For double-hung windows with tilt-in sashes, tilt the sash inward until it’s perpendicular to the wall and lift up.
- For double-hung windows without tilt-in sashes, reference the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions.
- The sashes of most horizontal sliding windows can be removed by opening the window and lifting upward on the sash.
- Newer casement windows have release catches on the hinges that release the sash.
*There are many varieties in windows, each working a bit differently. It’s best to refer to the manufacturer’s website for accurate instructions.
Remove the Broken Glass
With the sash laid flat, it’s time to remove the broken glass. Put on thick cut-proof gloves and safety glasses.
Start by placing an “X” over the glass with painter’s tape. You’ll also want to put tape over any cracks or places the window has shattered. Doing this helps keep the glass in one piece as you remove it.
Next, remove the old glazing. Use a flat head screwdriver to peel it up. If the glazing doesn’t come off, try warming it up with a heat gun or prying it off with a utility knife.
With the glazing gone, remove the glass from the frame.
Measure and Buy Your Glass
Measure the empty window frame’s height, width, and glass thickness. Then, go to a home improvement store and have the glass cut to size. Based on your measurements, have the glass cut 1/6th inches shorter on all four sides of the window.
Purchase your glass and glass points. Glass points are metal triangles that keep the glass in place.
Prep Your Window Frame for New Glass
Before putting your glass back in your window, you must make preparations. Use a heat gun to warm up all old putty and glazing, and remove it with your utility knife.
Clean the window with a wire brush until it’s free of dirt and grime. Make sure the l-shaped grooves don’t have any old paint or gunk stuck to them. Then, sand them down to bare wood and coat them with a sealer.
Allow the sealer to dry before moving on to the next step.
Put the Glass in the Frame
With all your prep work done, it’s time to put the glass in the frame.
Use a caulk gun to run a thin bead of window glazing in the frame’s grooves. Then, lay the new window glass in the frame. Next, install your new glazing points (purchased with the glass) every 10 inches. You’ll need to use a chisel or the back end of your putty knife to insert these.
Finally, apply a thin bead of glazing compound to the edge of the glass and smooth it with your fingers.
Allow the glazing to cure fully. Afterward, you can paint your window sash or place it back in the window.
Can You Replace Glass in a Vinyl Window Yourself?
You can replace glass in a vinyl window and do it yourself if the glass is a single pane. (Single pane glass is only one sheet.)
Here’s what to do:
- Remove the broken sash (section of the window) from the frame and lay it flat
- Put an “X” over the glass with painter’s tape to prevent the glass from shattering
- Remove the glazing stops with a flat head screwdriver (Glazing stops look like a vinyl piece on the edge of the glass.)
- Use a utility knife to remove the caulk
- Take out the glass by standing the window up, cutting the seal, and having a helper grab the glass as it comes loose.
- Purchase replacement glass at a home improvement or glass repair store
- Place two-sided adhesive tape around the frame (make sure it’s the appropriate size)
- Put setting blocks in the window
- Replace the glass and attach the glazing stops
If your vinyl window is double or triple-paned, the steps will be different, and you’ll need to take it to the glass repair shop so they can order the correct size and type of IGU (insulated glass unit.)
Also, if you attempt to repair single-pane glass in your vinyl window, find replacement glass and adhesive tape of the same thickness as you removed. The glass won’t fit in the window frame if the adhesive tape is too thick.
Can You Replace Broken Window Glass in a Double-Pane Window?
You can’t replace just the glass in double-pane windows. Double-paned windows are considered IGUs (insulated glass units), and the layers of glass come in one piece or unit.
Double-glazed windows contain two panes of glass, separated by a spacer and filled with air or a dense gas that insulates. They have a tight seal, which makes them energy efficient. Because of the tight seal, you can’t replace one broken sheet of glass. Instead, you need to replace the entire unit or section that’s broken.
You have two options for fixing a double pane window. First, you can remove the broken section of the window and take it to a glass repair shop. A glass repair shop can determine the type of glass, special coatings, and size. Then, they can order an IGU and install it for you.
Your second option is to contact your window manufacturer and order a replacement sash.
How Much Does Glass Window Repair Cost?
The cost of glass repair depends on your window type and how many glass panes there are. It’s the least expensive to repair single-pane window glass, averaging $200 per window. It can cost $200-$400 to have glass in a double-paned window repaired.
For more triple-paned glass, the cost can exceed $600, depending on the type and size of the window.
Can you Repair Broken Glass Window Seals?
You can’t repair broken window seals on double or triple-pane windows. If you have a broken seal, check to see if your window is under warranty. If not, you’ll need to replace the entire insulated glass unit.
Insulated glass units, also known as double or triple-pane glass, feature two or more panes of glass with an air or gas filling that act as an insulator. Then, they are sealed tight for maximum energy efficiency.
When the seals break, the windows become foggy or drafty. While there are several reasons for seals to fail, you cannot reseal these windows. Instead, you need to replace the entire IGU.
When You Shouldn’t Attempt to Repair Your Own Windows
While replacing single pane glass in a small window can be an easy task for an experienced DIYer, there are several instances in which you shouldn’t attempt to replace broken glass.
Replacing glass comes with safety risks. So, don’t try to remove heavy pieces of glass yourself, avoid making repairs in hard-to-reach areas, and consult with a professional if you have double or triple pane windows.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Is it cheaper to replace glass or windows?
If you have broken glass and are wondering whether to replace the glass or the entire window, it depends. Most of the time, it’s less expensive to repair the glass than to replace the window, but that’s not always the case. Get a quote on glass repair and window replacement before making your choice.
How do you replace the glass in a sealed window unit?
You can’t replace just the glass in a sealed window unit – you need to replace the entire unit.
Can you replace Andersen window glass?
If your Andersen window has broken glass, you can order a replacement sash from them.
Can you replace casement window glass?
If your casement window features single pane glass, you may be able to replace it yourself. If your casement window has double or triple pane glass, contact a glass repair shop for replacement information.
While it’s possible to repair glass yourself, it’s not always the best option. If you don’t feel your skills are up to par, take your window to a glass repair shop or call a contractor. If you have some DIY experience, you may be able to replace single pane glass yourself.
If you have double or triple-paned glass, you’ll need to replace the entire unit rather than make repairs. You can find replacement insulated glass units from your window manufacturer and most glass repair shops.