How to Replace a Pane of Glass in a Door

Older homes often have doors with glass lights (or panes) in them. When one of these panes gets broken, it is a repair job that is a relatively simple DIY. These doors most often have single pane sections held in place with wooden trim rather than the newer double or triple pane windows. You can handle this repair with a few simple tools and it should take about an hour.

Broken glass door pane. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife

  • Chisel or painters tool

  • Hammer

  • Pin nailer

  • 1-inch pin nails

  • Caulk

  • Paint

Step 1

Always use a sharp knife. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Cover any remaining glass pieces with painters tape and carefully remove. Vacuum up any pieces of glass in the area to prevent injury now and later. Score the pane frame with a utility knife to break the paint seal.

Step 2

Tap gently so that you don't break the trim. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Using a painters tool or chisel, gently pry the trim from the frame. Take your time and be gentle to remove the pieces without breaking them. Remove all four trim pieces. Mark the location of the pieces on the back so that you can replace them in the same order. Clean, scrape and lightly sand the frame and the trim pieces.

Step 3

Measure about 1/8th inch short of the true dimension. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Measure the opening and have a piece of glass cut at your local hardware store 1/8th inch shorter and 1/8th inch narrower than the opening. The pane should fit loosely to allow for expansion and contraction of the wood. A fit that is too tight will result in another broken pane.

Step 4

Replace the trim pieces in order. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Set the glass in place and insert a trim piece. Hold tightly in position.

Step 5

Nail trim back in place. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Nail in place with a brad nailer or a simple hammer and 3/4 inch finish nails. You might need to drill a pilot hole for the nails if the wood is old and brittle. Replace all four trim pieces, caulk the seam if necessary, and touch up the paint.

Warning

Always wear safety glasses when working with glass.