Broken Window? Here’s How To Fix It

No matter how hard we try, it always happens. A broken window is never fun, and often expensive to fix! First, you have to order glass (which can take forever, or moments, depending on the day), and then you’ve got to hire a contractor to come out and fix it. Then you’re left with a piece of cardboard to cover your window and a massive heating bill. Luckily, DreamyHome is here to save a bit of that hassle by showing you how to fix it yourself!

Fixing a broken window is a time consuming and delicate process – you’re working with glass, after all. We’ll show you how to get it done in a single day, all things willing.

Keep reading to learn exactly what you’ll need to fix a broken window – and if you’re here about a broken glass door, click here! We covered that recently, and the steps are nearly identical.

How to Fix a Broken Window: Step by Step

First things first, you’ll need a few items to get this bad boy installed properly. And if there was ever a time to not skimp – it’s here. You’ll want to ensure you get the best materials you can, so you can avoid repairs or fixes later down the line. I’m going to say here and now that if you’re uncomfortable with performing delicate repairs, you’ll want to call a contractor to help you out. They’ll get it done quicker than you will, and will likely do it better (though you never know).

Tools and Materials

To replace a broken window, you’ll need:

  • A new, unbroken window. I know, big surprise – but trust me here. It’s far harder to install a broken window than an unbroken one…
    • Skip down to the “measurement” section to know what you need here. It’s vital that you measure properly here to avoid problems later on.
    • Depending on where (and when) you are reading this, it may take as little as an hour to get glass, or as long as 10+ months – so get on this ASAP. The COVID pandemic screwed up supply lines for a lot of glass manufacturers.
    • One final note: In most modern cities, safety glass is required for residential windows and doors. This shatters into tiny pieces, rather than large ones, making it harder to suffer severe cuts when it breaks – you want safety glass, almost guaranteed. If you’re unsure, ask the people at the glass shop, they’ll likely have an answer for you.
  • Chisel or pry bar
  • Paintable window sealant
  • Paint (if you want to repaint the door) and paint brush
  • Painter’s tape
  • 1.9 cm finishing nails
  • Utility knife
  • Measuring tape

Measurement

Remember how grandpa always said, “measure twice, cut once?” Yeah, it may have seemed odd that he said it at the football game, but he was right! Double-check all measurements here – it’s vital that you’re spot-on with all measurements. If not, you’ll risk having to cut down the glass to size yourself, which can get messy and dangerous, very quickly.

I know this from personal experience. My father (professional contractor of 20+ years) and I were replacing a window and measured the glass ever so slightly wrong. When we went to cut it and fix our mistake, it shattered on the floor of my home. I was then left needing a new double-paned, massive window – it took three more months to get it and doubled my costs immediately. Don’t be like me; measure properly the first time.

In short, your glass should be no more than .3 cm smaller than the frame, and no less than .25 cm smaller. You need space for the sealant to get in, without the window being loose.

Preparation

Okay – you’ve measured everything and gotten your supplies. It’s time to prep for the real work. Begin by taping off the entire window – this will make cleanup drastically easier and reduce the chance of you cutting yourself or losing bits of glass.

The next bit is to take your utility knife and gently cut off all sealant and paint around the frame of the window. This will a) loosen the glass from the frame, and b) make a step later down the line much faster. Just trust me here, and get the frame of your window spotless.

Finally, label all parts of the frame so you know where each bit goes – it’ll make things faster when putting them back in place. (I find that sharpie on tape works wonders here, but do as you please.)

Removal

This is a sketchy part. You’re going to be prying the window frame loose, allowing you to access your glass and remove it. Take the prybar while wearing protective gloves, and pry the wood frame off the glass, doing your absolute best to keep it in one piece. If you break it now, you’ll have to cut a new piece of framing – and that’s no fun.

If you can, try to avoid cracking any glass, as larger pieces are easier to remove than small ones.

Now, you need to use your gloved hands to remove the glass gently and carefully. If you taped off the window as I said above, you should be able to pull the tape and glass in one fell swoop – cool, right? Now all that’s left is cleaning up any remaining sealant and putty inside the frame. You’ll be replacing it soon, so be sure it’s all gone.

Installation

Now it’s time for the most anxiety-inducing thing you’ll do all week – installing your new window. I recommend finding a mate to help out, as they’ll make this whole process easier. Buy them a pint or three as thanks.

Gently place your new window into its new home, taping it into place while you replace the frame.

Apply sealant around the borders of the window, ensuring you get none on the glass itself (other than what will go under the frame). Now, reading your labels, replace the frame exactly as it was.

Secure the frame with your finishing nails, putting them in at an angle. Shooting them straight in will absolutely crack your new window – and that’s rather the opposite of what we’re aiming for. Reapply sealant around the frame, wiping excess off with a cloth while it’s still wet. Once it dries, you’re not getting it off.

Finishing

Now you’re going to want to use your artistic mastery to repaint the frame of the window. Apply 1-2 new layers of your paint of choice, taping off the window to avoid getting paint on the new glass.

Do not paint until the sealant is dry. This may take up to 48 hours, or as little as one hour, depending on the sealant.

Once all is dry and pretty, remove the painter’s tape, polish your new window, and try not to break it this time!

Final Thoughts

A broken window is a hassle, no matter how you slice it. They can be dangerous, they cost an arm and a leg in heating bills, and they’re obviously very ugly. Luckily, you now know how to fix it yourself like a real handyman (or woman).

As always, though, if you’re not comfortable with this – call a professional. They exist solely to make your life easier, and there’s no sense in ignoring them if you can’t do this properly.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.