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Repair Your Cracked or Shattered Windows

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

Performing a complete window overhaul in your home can be a costly, work-intensive experience. Many home improvement devotees have found the scale of the project daunting when it comes to doing work that has taken competent glazing contractors years to master. But if it's just a single window that has given way to wear or was shattered by a thrown rock or baseball, you can size it up for replacement on your own.

The main consideration is the overall condition of the window frame and surrounding woodwork. If it all looks solid and intact, you might be able to handle the job yourself. Just remember, there's much more to glass replacement that just taking out the shattered pieces and dabbing putty around the new pane.

Getting the Old Window Out Safely

It can be dangerous removing the remnants of the original glass. Be sure you have thick work gloves on as you pull out the pieces and don't rush.

Once the glass is out, remove the old putty using a putty knife or chisel. Be careful not to harm the frame or wood as you work out the old putty. You'll also need to remove any glazer's points that are left from mounting the old window glass.

Some window contractors recommend treating the frame before putting in new glass, especially if the old putty was dry and cracking and the wood itself is bleached and weathered. Linseed oil works well, and can add resilience to the new putty, preventing quick dry-outs and fresh damage.

Inserting Fresh Glass Windows

Your new pane of glass absolutely needs to be the same size as the glass you're replacing. If it's not, you'll need a glass cutter to fit it to specifications. If you haven't used one before, you may want to call in a contractor to do the work. If the glass is the right size, you can slide it right into the window frame and press glazer's points on each inner horizontal side to hold it in place. This is where some people chip or break the new glass; the points should go in easily without any hammering.

Be sure the putty is completely smooth and free of lumps. Start with a 1/8" cord of rolled putty and apply it around the edges of the glass where it meets the window frame. Clean out excess putty with the knife as you work around the edges and smooth out the perimeter. When it dries, you can touch it up with fine grade sandpaper. Paint the putty and frame and clean away any streaks on the glass. You're done!

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.