How to Replace a Window Pane
Tom Silva shows how easy it is to fix a single-glazed wood sash
Crack! An errant baseball, a hurled stone, or a falling branch is all it takes to end the life of a windowpane. And for most modern, double-glazed windows, that means a trip to the local glass shop for repairs.
But for old-fashioned, single-glazed wood sash, you can easily replace the pane yourself. It's one of the rare homeowner projects that doesn't require some practice to tool the putty," says Tom Silva, This Old House general contractor. "You want to end up with neat, crisp creases in the corners and straight runs in between."
The reglazing technique Tom demonstrates on these pages also comes in handy when the old putty itself cracks or falls out but the glass remains intact. (In that case, Tom removes all the old putty; it's too far gone to patch.) Whatever the glazing project, he recommends taking out the window sash and laying it flat on a workbench, if possible. "Trying to reglaze a sash that's still in it's opening takes longer, and it's far more difficult to do a good job."
Remove the Glass
Don gloves and safety glasses and cover the broken pane with a rag. Tap the center of the rag-covered pane with a hammer to loosen the shards.
With gloved hands, wiggle free any pieces that remain embedded in the putty.
If the sash is still in the window opening, or the pane has a crack or two but is otherwise intact, it's best to remove the putty first, then the glass.