If you have a home with older windows and the glazing is crumbling and falling out, or you can hear the windows rattling, or if you lightly tap tap with your finger and it’s a rattle-y sound rather than a dull thud, your windows can probably use a reglazing.
And that’s OK, because reglazing windows is a project you can probably tackle yourself with a few simple tools, glazing compound, and some time and patience. Emily from merrypad.com had me work on an old paned attic window for her recently, so that’s the subject this time around.
Supplies to reglaze:
- A putty knife (stiff is better)
- Glazing Compound
- MAYBE a heat gun (to loosen up old glazing for removal)
- MAYBE linseed oil (see step 1.5)
Any glazing compound will work. Some people swear by professional grade glazing compound, but I’ve always been fine with DAP 33 Glazing.
Before you start
It’s always best to have the window out and lying flat on a workbench (I’m doing this window standing so it was easier to take pics). If you don’t want to remove the windows you can probably do it right where they are but your floor will be messing from old glazing crumbling down and new glazing plopping on the floor while you smooth it at the end.
Step 1: Remove the old glazing compound.
You’re probably only going to be reglazing a window yourself if it’s already super bad and crumbly so this is usually the easy part. Go slow, take your time and dig out all the loose old glazing with your putty knife. If you break the glass we’re talking a whole other post, so be gentle. If you’re dead set on removing all the old glazing you may need to grab your trusty heat gun and heat up the glazing to soften it, but if it’s really hard to remove the glazing maybe you should just leave it.
Step 1.5: Apply linseed oil if the wood is dried out.
If the wood is really old and dry it can suck the moisture out of the glazing compound causing it to dry too quickly and it could crack prematurely. Apply the linseed oil and let it sit overnight. Then glaze away.
Step 2: Prepare the glazing compound.
You remember making Play-Doh snakes, right? Do that with the glazing compound. Take it in your hands, knead it and get it warm and soft and make a 3/4″ snake long enough to fit around the edge of your window pane (yes you can do it in multiple pieces, just mush it in good and it doesn’t matter how ugly right now.
Step 3: Make it smooth.
Now’s when you get to use the putty knife. The first thing you need to know is you have to keep your knife wet and clean or else everything will start sticking and pulling away from the glass or edge and annoy you. This is where most glazing rookies get frustrated. Some pros use spray glass cleaner to keep the putty lubed (I use spit and I’m SURE it’s a bad bad bad thing to do but I lick my finger or the putty knife to keep it from sticking). Hold the knife at enough of an angle so that when finished you won’t see the glazing from the other side. If you can you will need to rework the putty. It needs to be enough of an angle to allow water runoff and the corners should be rounded into each other. You’re going to be removing the extra material, angling it, and smoothing it all at the same time. This is where the patience comes in. You don’t need to rush.
Step 4: Wait and paint.
You really should wait a week or so to let the glazing cure before priming and painting . Make sure when you prime (oil-base) and paint (exterior paint) you go onto the glass to help the seal, you can use a razor blade to clean it up after it dries.
So that’s about it. You’ll figure it out after a few tries. It’s really quite rad to do it yourself and do away with those rattle-y, loose windows, not to mention the increase in energy efficiency and admiration by your friends and relatives.