Fixing broken glass pane in your door with Jill of All Trades

This week, our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn, shows us how to replace a broken pane of glass in a 15-light door. It is a technique that applies to countless doors and windows. 

First, you'll have to remove the broken pane of glass. To do that, you'll have to pry off the narrow moldings that hold the glass in. Often, these have multiple layers of paint on them. You'll most likely have to cut through the paint with a razor knife.  

If that doesn't work, you'll want to try hammering a putty knife in behind the molding to "break" the paint and loosen the molding. It's easier than it sounds. Just start conservatively, so that you don't cause any additional damage to the glass or the door.

You'll know right away when the molding starts to come loose. You may even feel it before you actually see it. Jill recommends getting all four of them to loosen a bit and then working to pry one at a time to get them out. She also recommends laying them out in the configuration that they came out of the door, or numbering or lettering the pieces, so that you put them back exactly as they were in the door.

Once the moldings are out, you should be able to easily pull out the broken pane of glass. You may want to tape it up before you move it, so that it stays together, and comes out easier. After the glass is out, clean up the opening with a shop vac, or even a paint brush, to get any debris or glass shards out of the opening. Now you're ready to get a new piece of glass.

Measure the opening as accurately as you can and take those measurements to your local hardware store or glass shop. They can easily custom cut a piece of glass to fit the opening. You'll be shocked how fast they can cut it. It takes no time at all. Have the new pane cut just slightly smaller (maybe 1/16" to 1/8th") than the opening, so that it goes in easily and won't be damaged by door shrinkage/contraction through the seasons, or from movement of the door. The piece that Jill had cut only cost $1.99.

Once you have your new glass, carefully place it in the opening. ***Remember… those edges are super sharp!***  

Now all you have to do is replace your moldings. Jill recommends replacing them in the reverse order of how you took them out. You may have to work with them a bit to get them to fit back in as they originally were. Don't be afraid to pry them a bit to get them in.  

The last step is to carefully nail the moldings in with small finish nails. Jill says it's easier to avoid damaging the door on this step if you have a smaller scale hammer. Once you do that, you're done!  You may need to use a tiny bit of spackle or filler to touch up nail holes or other minor damage and you'll probably have to touch up the paint, but your door will look good as new with the new glass in.


To watch Jill take you through the process, click on the video player above.