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How To Replace Window Glass In A Vinyl Frame In 7 Steps

crack on window glass

Good quality vinyl windows can last up to 15 to 20 years, but whether they have become discolored, are fogging up inside, or they have suffered some kind of physical shock, broken windows can look ugly and lose their energy efficiency. Replacing the whole window, including the vinyl frames, is not only expensive but it might be unnecessary. The frames may still have a decent life left in them, and, fortunately, it is possible to replace just the window glass without having to replace the whole frame.

What’s more, if you’re practically minded and you have the right materials and tools, it is a job that you could do yourself, saving even more money compared to the cost of brand windows. If the manufacturer welded the frame around the glass, it can be a lot more difficult to remove the pane for replacement, although it is still possible even in these cases.

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Tools Needed

Having the right tools will not only make the job easier, it will improve the end result and ensure that you have a windowpane that sits snugly in the frame. Ensure that you have the following items before you start work:

  • Composite fasteners
  • Caulk gun
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Glass sheet
  • Heat gun
  • Paint scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Adhesive tape

It is a good idea to have the replacement glazing pane ready before you start, if possible, but one of the most important steps to a successful replacement is ensuring that you get the right size and the right thickness. This might only be possible once you’ve removed the existing window. You can also use a measuring calliper that you attach to the window and that measures the pane before you remove it. Getting the pane ready before you start means that you won’t be left with a gaping hole in your house if you struggle to get the replacement glazing straight away.

It is also worth noting that some manufacturers offer a warranty on the windowpane so it might be worth contacting them to see whether they will send a replacement window out to you.

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How To Replace Window Glass in a Vinyl Frame

1. Remove the Sash

It will be easier to work on the sash if you take it down first. Release the tabs on the sash and lean the top of the sash in your direction before pulling it free. It may take some twisting to free the sash from the frame but don’t pull too hard. Ask somebody for help if you’re struggling because they will be able to hold the frame while you see where it needs to wriggle free.

Once the sash is removed, put it safely on a table, facing up.

man installing window
Image Credit: ronstik, Shutterstock

2. Remove the Vinyl Glazing Stops

Under the frame, there are vinyl stops that prevent the panes from coming out. Use a flat head screwdriver and place it against the rim of the stop before knocking the screwdriver handle so the stop comes away. You will have to repeat the process for all the stops all the way around the pane.

3. Remove the Caulk

The window is likely fastened using double-sided tape or silicone caulk and you will need to remove this before you can pull the pane free. Use a sharp blade, or a specialist deglazing knife, to cut the caulk away from the window. Repeat the process around the whole window and ensure that you have somebody to hold the glass and prevent it from falling once it is removed.

4. Pull Out the Glass

If you don’t already have replacement glass, now is the time to get it. The replacement must be the exact same dimensions and thickness as the pane you’re removing. Otherwise, it won’t fit or it won’t remain stable and may wobble loose. Even the tape you use should be the same thickness.

windows installation
Image Credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky, Shutterstock

5. Source Replacement Glass

Once you have the replacement glass, add double-sided tape to the window lengthwise and then carefully place the window in the frame. The double-sided tape adhesive will work quickly so you need to ensure that you are as accurate as possible, or it will be very difficult to move into place afterwards.

6. Replace the Glass

Use setting blocks around the edge of the glass. These prevent the glass from slipping during installation. If you don’t use them, the pane is likely to move out of position. This can cause problems straight away or the pane might slip in the future and become impossible to open or close.

worker handling a glass
Image Credit: Ikonoklast Fotografie, Shutterstock

7. Replace the Stops

Once the window is in place, snap the stops back into position and put the window back in the frame, ensuring that it sits flush and opens and closes smoothly and reliably.

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Replacing the window glass in a vinyl frame can prevent you from having to replace or pay to replace the whole window and window frame. You will ned somebody to help, primarily holding the glass for you so it doesn’t slip, and you will benefit from having the right tools as well as having the exact same dimension and thickness of glass ready before you start. Take your time, always use the setting blocks when replacing the pane, and you should be able to successfully replace the window yourself.

Featured Image Credit: Lina Mo, Shutterstock

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