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Broken or cracked window panes ruin your home’s appearance, safety, and energy efficiency. It’s important to repair damaged window glass quickly to prevent further damage to your home’s integrity. If your window damage is too extensive, you may need to replace your windows instead. We’ll walk you through how to replace window glass and explain what it’s time to hire a professional.
Single-pane window replacement is the easiest type of window replacement. It doesn’t require advanced experience, but it does involve several intricate steps and a working knowledge of windows. Professionals should handle more complicated tasks such as double- or triple-pane projects or replacement window installations.
Window glass replacement could take as little as two hours for small repairs. Larger repairs for multiple panes of glass or additional window parts, such as the window frame, will extend the time to four hours or more. Window repair costs for a single window pane range from $275 to $900, with a national average of $350. These costs vary based on the damage’s extent, window type or material, and the type of glass pane being replaced. Installing a replacement window will increase project costs to $300 to $1,200.
How to Replace Your Window Glass
Windows break when an object or debris shatters the window pane or part of the window. Broken or cracked windows are unsightly and may cause larger problems later on. Without repairs, a broken window could expose your home to unwanted critters, small animals, and the outside elements.
Having one or more holes in your windows also poses a security risk for you and your family. When dealing with a broken window, you need to remove any broken glass surrounding your windows and board the broken window or panel until it’s time for repair.
Window cracks are less serious but should be fixed as soon as possible. Window cracks due to physical impact will reduce the window’s integrity and could spread across the pane. Stress cracks, which appear near the pane’s edges, result from constant weather changes that expand and contract the glass.
Insulated and double-pane windows occasionally have pressure cracks due to pressure buildup between the panes. These curved cracks appear when the air pressure changes due to the weather, altitude, or rapid temperature changes.
Window glass replacement varies based on the material. For example, it’s easier to replace glass on windows made from artificial materials such as aluminum or vinyl.
Window glass repair on wood windows is more complicated, requiring additional care and preparation to preserve the natural material. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to replace a window pane on a wood window. You need the following equipment, tools, and materials:
- Caulking gun
- Duct tape
- Heat gun
- Eye protection
- Glass cutter
- Leather work gloves
- Paint scraper
- Putty knife
- Rubber mallet
- Tape measure
- Wire brush
- Cut replacement glass
- Exterior paint (wood windows only)
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Glazing compound or putty
- Glazing points
- Linseed oil or wood sealer
Step 1: Remove the Old or Broken Glass
Wear eye protection and gloves before beginning any work. Remove old glass shards from the window while it’s still installed. Wiggle and remove any remaining shards of glass from the broken pane.
If the glass pane is still whole or can’t be removed easily, you must remove the surrounding glazing compound and points. The glazing compound is a putty that helps secure the window pane in place. You may also need to remove the glazing points, which are small fasteners that secure the glass into the window frame.
Apply duct tape to the window glass to remove any remaining shards; form an “X” shape or grid lines, depending on the size of the leftover glass. The duct tape will catch any loose shards and help reduce cleanup.
You may need a heat gun and scraper or a chisel to remove the window glazing compound from around wood window panes. Use the putty knife to remove the glazing points.
Clean up any glass fragments from your work area and around the windows before moving to the next steps.
Step 2: Reglaze the Windows
Wood windows require reglazing prep before installing the new pane. Below is an overview of this process:
- Use a wire brush to remove any residue or dirt inside or on the wood frame.
- Using a heat gun, soften and remove the old glazing compound with a putty knife.
- Remove any remaining metal glazing points from where the old pane was attached.
- Scrape old paint and compound out of the L-shaped grooves and sand the grooves down to the bare wood.
- Coat the bare wood with a sealer, and allow it to dry completely. Apply a few coats of flax oil to the wood near the frame to extend the glazing’s life.
Step 3: Measure the Window Frame and Buy New Glass
Before buying a new glass pane, you’ll need to measure your windows to find the right size. Measure the window opening’s width and weight. Take horizontal and vertical pane measurements. You’ll also record the thickness of the old glass. Subtract 1/8 inch from all sides to order a precise replacement pane. Write down all of these measurements and have a new pane cut by your local home improvement or hardware store.
Step 4: Apply Fresh Glazing and Install the Glass Pane
Apply new window glazing compound with a caulking gun in the window pane’s L-shaped grooves. Then, install the new window pane and press to set it in place. Install new compound points with the tip of a putty knife every 10 inches. Add another layer of glazing compound and use a wet cloth or your fingers to smooth it out. Touch up the window’s paint, if needed.
Professional vs. DIY Glass Replacement
Some homeowners might consider replacing a glass pane themselves, but this doesn’t guarantee the same results as a professional installation. Installing window glass without the proper knowledge or experience could lead to mistakes, affecting your home’s security and energy bills.
Homeowners should consider using a professional window installer to ensure high-quality results. Complicated installations for double- and triple-pane windows absolutely require a professional. More intricate window styles, such as bay windows, might also prove too difficult for the typical homeowner.
Another advantage of a professional installation is the inclusion of workmanship and/or glass warranty coverage. If the breakage exceeds one or two panes or results in full window damage, you’ll need to invest in a whole window replacement. Choosing a professional installer comes with additional coverage and security that you won’t get with a do-it-yourself (DIY) method.
The average cost of window glass replacement is $350, but several factors—such as window and glass type—can increase the final price. We’ve examined these factors in detail below.
Replacing safety glass or other specialty glass will increase your total project cost. This includes laminated, frosted, and tinted glass. Custom glass also costs more to replace.
Many modern windows use insulated glass units (IGU) instead of single panes to improve energy efficiency. IGUs use two panes of tempered glass and filled with gas in between. This gas, typically argon or krypton, adds insulation to reduce the effects of outdoor temperatures on your home’s internal climate. IGUs are used in double- or triple-pane windows.
For these installations, you’ll need to contact the window manufacturer to get the precise details of your replacement glass. It’s best to use a professional window installer or window repair company for these projects.
Expect to pay more for larger glass replacements and multipaned window designs. These windows require additional workers and equipment. Labor costs increase with specialty window types and energy-efficient options. If your glass replacement project involves higher floors, the installer will need special equipment, increasing your overall project costs.
The larger the window, the higher the price tag for replacement. Big windows, such as skylights and picture windows, cost more than replacing a pane on a standard single-hung window. Large windows require more labor, materials, and (in some cases) specialized equipment. Glass thickness also affects the final replacement cost. Reducing or upgrading glass thickness requires a new window frame and increased labor and material costs.
You’ll pay more for window types with complicated designs, such as bay or bow windows, than basic window options, such as single-hung windows. Specialty window types, such as egress and storm windows, require specific glass options and additional labor.
Replacing window glass requires an intermediate knowledge of windows that most homeowners don’t have. Whether you’re replacing a single cracked pane or multiple broken windows, opting for a professional installer will yield the best results. If your damage is too extensive, you should invest in an entire window replacement instead.
We recommend comparing at least three window repair or replacement companies to find the best options for your home.
Window Glass Replacement FAQ
Can I replace my window glass?
Yes, you can replace your window glass or use a professional glass repair company. To replace window glass yourself, you’ll need working knowledge of window construction and intermediate home improvement skills. We recommend using a professional windows company to ensure a quality installation.
How long does it take to replace window glass?
It takes two to three hours to replace glass on a single window pane. Replacing multiple panes and windows takes one to two days.
Is it more economical to replace glass in a window?
Yes, replacing the glass is more economical than replacing the whole window. Glass replacement is a cost-effective solution if just the pane is cracked or broken. However, full window replacement is the better option if your window is severely damaged or worn.
How much does it cost to replace window glass?
It costs $275 to $900 to replace window glass, with an average of $350. This cost decreases if you choose to complete the repair yourself. However, window glass repair requires a working knowledge of windows and intermediate do-it-yourself skills.