Broken glass? Here's how to fix a broken window

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Having a broken window is a cause for concern. Not only does it let outside elements into your home, but it’s also a security risk that requires immediate attention.

That’s why it’s handy to learn how to fix broken windows, especially temporary fixes that can last before you get a handyman to repair them for you. This guide will walk you through how to fix a broken window pane. Let’s get started.

Tools you need for the job

Before you start repairs, make sure that you have the following tools and materials ready. 

  • Work gloves

  • Safety goggles

  • New glass

  • Putty knife 

  • Wood chisel or razor scraper

  • Paintbrush

  • Tape measure

  • Glazing compound or putty

  • Hammer

  • Glazier or glazing points

  • Glass scraper

  • Turpentine

  • Linseed oil

How to fix a broken window pane

Broken window panes mean having loose glass shards that are dangerous to anyone at home. It can be difficult to fix it on your own, so it’s a good idea to hire a handyman to help you with the repairs. If you think you can do it, then read on to find out how to fix your broken window pane.

Step 1: Measure and buy the glass

man measuring a window pane

Measure the window from the outside edges of its L-channels. Then, subtract ⅛ inch from each measurement to get the appropriate glass size. Buy the glass panels at your nearest hardware store.

The glass size needs to be smaller than the window frame to make it easier to install. This gives room for the glass to expand and contract.

Step 2: Clean up the window frame 

person scraping the putty off a window

Put on your safety gloves and goggles for this next part. Take out any glass shards sticking out and dispose of these immediately.

Next, scrape the hardened glazing compound or putty around the glass. The putty will be dry and brittle, causing it to come off in large chunks.

Then, pry the old glazing points open using either a putty knife, pliers, or a thin flathead screwdriver. Glazing points are the tiny fasteners embedded into the wood, holding the glass in place. Once the glazing points are out, you can take out all the broken glass carefully. 

Clean the inside of the frame by scraping it down with a chisel. Sand down the wood using fine sandpaper if necessary. 

Using your paintbrush, coat the wooden frame with linseed oil. This keeps the window frame from drying and cracking the new glazing compound.

Step 3: Mount the new glass

handymen mounting a window pane

Take a ball of putty and knead it into your hands to soften it. Then, line about an eighth of an inch thick (⅛) of putty along the edge of the window frame and press it down. This becomes the bed that the new glass will rest on.

Gently press the new glass into the bed of putty. Secure it in place using the glazing points found every six inches around the glass. Press the glazing points into the window frame using a stiffer putty knife or a chisel. 

Soften another batch of putty and roll it into a strand about ⅜ inches thick. Press the putty along the edge of the window frame, shaping it into place as you work your way around the entire frame.  

Dip a clean putty knife into turpentine to smooth it out. Hold the knife at an angle and use the edge of the putty knife as a guide to making a neat beveled edge. 

You can remove any extra putty as you go. Check if any putty is visible from inside the window when you look out. You can also scrape off putty that seeps out from the other side of the window.

Step 4: Cure the glaze, then paint!

person painting a window frame

Allow the glazing compound to completely dry. Drying times will depend on the manufacturer of the putty.

Then, paint the putty to match the wood. Let the paint dry. Afterward, clean the glass from any fingerprints and dirt. 

And that’s it! You have your new window glass in place.

Temporary window fixes you can do

The tricky part about fixing a broken window pane is needing to order new glass, which means your windows could stay broken for a couple of days. Don’t worry, because there are quick fixes you can do!

Remember that these are only temporary solutions, and you’ll still need to address them with actual repairs. You’ll need to act fast so that the damage doesn’t escalate.

For small cracks: Use glue or nail polish

Never leave a small crack on your window pane unattended. These can easily turn into a big crack. On top of that, they’re entry points for moisture.

What you’ll need:

  • Glue or nail polish

  • Paintbrush

  • Toothbrush

  • Razor blade

  1. Using a toothbrush, dust away small pieces of broken glass outside the window crack. 

  2. Paint the glue or nail polish over the small crack. The goal is to get it as deep into the crack as possible. You can take out any excess using the razor blade. Let the first coat dry.

  3. Keep reapplying coats, waiting for each layer to dry in between until the crack has been filled.

For large cracks: Bring out the tape

The only way to fix a large crack is to replace the entire window pane. While waiting, do the following steps to prevent further damage.

What you’ll need:

  • Toothbrush

  • Clear packing tape

  • Duct tape (optional)

  1. Remove any glass debris around the crack using a toothbrush. This will prevent future injuries while you replace your window pane. 

  2. Test if the glass is still strong by gently pressing down around the crack with the toothbrush. If it is strong, then apply clear packing tape on top. Make sure that the length of the tape is longer than the crack. Apply this on both sides of the crack. If it’s too brittle, take immediate action to have your window repaired.

  3. To make sure the crack doesn’t get worse, you can add duct tape on top of the clear packing tape. 

When to call a professional

If you’ve read through this entire guide but still aren’t sure where to start, then you can hire a handyman to help. There are reliable professionals near you who can help you fix that broken window in a jiff!

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FAQ on fixing a broken window

The price of window repairs is dependent on many factors like the type of repair and window you have. It can range from $90 - $220. You can check our window cost repair guide for more information.

Besides broken glass, if you notice that your windows are drafty, then it means the humid air from outside is seeping in, which means it’s time to be replaced. Also, watch out for condensation inside your window.

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