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Reglazing a window

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)

Glazing compound

This is a really popular glazing compound for DIYers

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.

Editor’s Note; This was a good tip from artist Richard Harrington. Speaking of art, go buy a barnwood frame from http://foryour.merrypad.com

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.

This is the finished reglazing. Not yet painted, but reglazing is done. See how I didn't have to replace ALL the glazing?

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.

Questions?

8 Comments

  • Pesce

    Consider getting one of these – http://www.amazon.com/Red-Devil-4251-Painters-6-In-1-Tool/dp/B00002N6IT

    Doesn’t really matter what brand you get. Sometimes they’re called 5-in-1 tools. As a youngin I worked with my uncle restoring old houses and it was the best tool for reglazing a window. The pointed end works great for scraping out all the old glaze.

    There are loads of other uses and I have this in-pocket for almost all of my remodeling.

    Reply

    • Pete Fazio

      Yeah I have one of those but for some reason I like a normal putty knife for glazing and I control the flex. Sometimes these bent ones work ok too: Red Devil Glazing Knives. You can’t see it in the picture but it angles at the end like 45 degrees.

      Reply

  • Amy Vlack

    Thanks..I have several windows that need reglazed but was never quite sure about tackling it. I think I will give it a try this summer.

    Reply

    • Pete Fazio

      It’s very doable with time and patience. The patience depends how neat and perfect you want it to look. A quart is only like $8 so it’s cheap to try.

      Reply

  • jb @Buildingmoxie

    Pete this is awesome. when we bought the house that we live in .. we decided to keep the windows — but count em 26 panes of broken glass…now only 2 left. We used the Dap caulk version of glazing for most … paired with a glazing knife. generally quick but takes some skill at the corners. Great tutorial here and I may have to go with the more traditional method when I tackle the last few. thanks. jb

    Reply

  • dave

    Good suggestions, esp with keeping the knife wet to prevent the glazing from sticking to the knife. The picture at the end showed me there was too much glazing, especially at the bottom rail. I have done thousands of windows. You must have the glazing LOWER by 1/16th inch or so than you think, that way you won’t see it from inside. I have seen more butchered jobs where you can see nearly 1/4′ reveal from the inside! Weekend hack!!

    Also, I use blue painters tape when I paint after glazing has cured–miniumum two weeks. I give myself 1/16th overlap so paint actually seals onto glass. From the inside, it will look perfect. After a couple of days drying time, pull the tape off and voila! Will look factory perfect!! Make sure you use a very good OIL ext. grade primer when priming the new glazing. This is very important, and if you first prime bare wood or use linseed oil, your glazing will last for years.

    Reply

    • Pete Fazio

      Good tips, Dave. I have to admit you busted me on the last image. Thats not really the finished project. I actually never took a final pic BUT that’s pretty close to final and I really didn’t have to remove much more. That photo is kind of deceiving looking at it even now. The glaze looks crazy thick but it matches the old glazing no doubt done by a master years ago. Now go like us on FB. :)

      Reply

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