5 DIY Steps to Replace Your Broken Window

Published on: December 03, 2022

A broken window can be a sign that it’s time for replacement windows. But even once you find a good window contractor and start the process, ordering windows can take some time. So you might need to deal with your broken window anyway. Discuss the issue with your window contractor to see what they suggest. Otherwise, you can work with some broken window glass using these directions.

Whether the broken window was due to a neighborhood child with a wild throw or it was the freezing of water responsible for that crack, broken glass windows are painful for homemakers. While these shatter the exterior of your property, they can be problematic for maintaining the optimal temperature inside.

Hence, if you have recently discovered the unfortunate event of a broken window, you need to work toward repair and replacement quickly.

Step-by-step Guide to Replace a Broken Window

Replace a Broken Window

While window installation is certainly a job for professionals, you might be able to replace the glass on your own to get by with the window for a little longer. If you are not a handy person, you should not attempt this replacement though because it is definitely an advanced project.

Plan to allow no less than two hours for this project. It all depends on where the window is at and the type of window that it is.

Tools you’ll need: 

  • Window glass that is exactly the size of the broken glass
  • Putty knife
  • Protective gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Wood chisel or jackknife
  • Linseed oil
  • Window putty
  • Glazier’s points
  • Window glazing compound
  • Paint (optional)

You can replace glass from vinyl, wood or aluminum window frames. Here’s a look at the step-by-step directions to help you secure your home once again after a window glass crack or break.

Step 1: Remove the Broken Glass

Before you start with replacement, it is important to first remove a cracked pane of glass. For this, you need to remove the putty from the window frame. Use a putty knife, wood chisel, or jackknife to remove every trace. To make sure you don’t get injured use protective gloves to protect your hands against cuts. Once you are done with putty removal, take out the broken glass.

Pro tip: For those stubborn areas, use heat to soften the putty. You can run a blow dryer along the putty and then with the chisel pull away the remaining putty from the wood frame.

Step 2: Prepare the Window Frame

With the help of a small paintbrush, apply a heavy coat of linseed oil. Then leave the oil on the window frame to soak up the oil completely before proceeding. The linseed oil aids in maximizing the life of the putty and prevents the putty from evaporating or drying out. So be sure to saturate the wood with linseed oil to make your repair work last much longer.

Step 3: Add a New Layer of Putty

Once the oil has fully absorbed into the window frame, apply a very thin layer of putty around the frame. The base layer doesn’t need to be too thick as it is meant to provide a cushion for the new glass you’ll be inserting. Basically, it will prevent air from leaking at the perimeter of the window glass. If you add a thick layer, it might swell or smudge, which could further impact clarity and visibility.

You want to ensure you don’t miss any spots though as gaps will lead to drafts and moisture inside your home. So take your time when applying the putty to ensure a consistent thin layer.

Step 4: New Glass Installation

Depending on the size of your window, you might need to get custom glass cut. In that case, it might be best to just wait for your new replacement windows to arrive than to proceed with this process.

The replacement glass must be exactly the right size. You can insert the new windowpane into the frame. Press it firmly with one hand and use your free hand to insert Glazier’s points every 4 inches on each side. This will help secure the pane firmly. Or you can consider asking a friend or family member to help with this to avoid any risks and ensure a smooth installation. Start with the Glazier’s point using the point of a putty knife or a glazing tool.

Allow the Professionals to Do It

Step 5: Preparing the Putty

Prepare your window putty by evaluating the wetness and consistency. You want it to be thick enough to hold in place but not so thick that you can’t work with it. If it is too stiff, you can thin it to make it easier to work with. 

The putty should be completely pliable and free of lumps. When you’re ready, roll the prepared mixture into pencil-size strips and apply them to one corner of the window frame. Smooth it using a knife and hold the glazing tool at an angle for a smooth job. Cover the Glazier’s point completely and if required you can paint the putty later.

Limitations of DIY Window Glass Replacement

Window repair is complicated and while this method can help you secure your home while you await new windows, it likely won’t be a long-term solution. Experts can complete glass replacement, but it’s never quite as energy efficient and secure as the original window from the manufacturer. Here are some limitations of DIY window glass replacement.

  • Can be more challenging for double or triple-paned windows
  • It likely won’t be as energy efficient as the original window glass installation
  • Can lead to drafts and moisture inside if not sealed perfectly
  • It will be time-consuming and challenging for the average homeowner
  • Might not offer the same security for first-floor windows depending on the quality of installation

Before embarking on the project, you should discuss your options with a window replacement contractor. 2FL Windows, Siding and Roofing is an expert in the Seattle, Washington, area. Our team is honest and straightforward. We’ll evaluate your broken window glass situation and offer the best next steps to guide you in resolving the issue. Schedule a free in-home estimate now.

Can I Replace a Windowpane Myself?

Replace a Broken Window

If you have old-fashioned, single-glazed windows, you can likely replace a pane yourself. However more modern windows with double or triple panes will present unique challenges that it’s likely better to leave up to the professionals. 

Is It Cheaper to Replace Glass or Whole Window?

Window glass replacement is the more economical option when dealing with a broken window. However, you likely won’t get as strong of a seal and energy efficiency from the glass replacement. That means that you’ll pay more for energy and won’t get the full benefits from the investment.  You’ll likely experience more heat gain and heat loss. 

Can You Replace Glass in a Window Without Removing the Frame?

Yes, you can replace the glass in a window without removing the frame. Just be sure that the frame is still intact and doesn’t have any issues to accept new glass and still secure your home.

Further Reading:


  1. […] you’re looking at your windows and wondering if it’s time to replace them, the first step is choosing a good company you can trust to work on your home or commercial […]

  2. […] 5 DIY Steps to Replace Your Broken Window […]

  3. […] the best option for the windows requiring weather-stripping or hardware. But a warped, damaged or broken window sash or frame should be replaced. Also consider a replacement if there is a difficulty in opening, […]

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