Check It Off The List: Reglazing the Broken Basement Window

For some reason, this project was the DIY equivalent of how I feel about doing the dishes. One of those things I knew had to be done, but that I didn’t really want to think about because it seemed like it was going to be a way bigger deal than it really was.


It was also one of those things I was considering paying someone else to do before I decided I needed to put on my big-girl tool belt and at least give it a shot before I called in the troops.

Like patching the siding, this is one of those items on the bank list that I really can’t argue with. It needed to be done, and sooner rather than later. Also, as with many things on that list, this isn’t a long term solution. The wood sashes are rotting out on many of the basement windows, and they’ll all need to be replaced eventually, but at least by replacing the glass in this one, I won’t have little piles of snow drifted in the basement like last winter.


So, here’s how I went about this. I started by pulling out the old glass.


Then for once in my life I put on proper work gear (aka gloves and shoes) and got down to the business of cleaning up the frame. Luckily I haven’t removed the 17 bags of what I assume is dead body parts from the basement yet, and they made a handy little pile for me to stand on while doing this.


After using a utility knife to clear out the old glazing compound, I brushed everything down to get the dust off.


(You may recognize this brush from it’s starring role in the removal of chicken crap from my coffee table, and the removal of gunk and general debris from the back deck. These things are handy.)

Then I measured for the new pane of glass and gave myself about 3/16 wiggle room just in case things weren’t perfectly square. In 150 year old houses, they rarely are.

I just used a single pane of glass, cut to size at Lowe’s, and some acrylic glazing compound to secure it in place.


I read up a bit on this before doing it. First of all, the directions say to prime the frame first, which I totally didn’t do. Also some of what I read online (and we all know the internet doesn’t lie) recommended using a silicone caulk to “stick” the glass in place first, then apply the glazing compound to the outside. (For oil-based compound, acrylic caulk is recommended.)

The tube of glazing didn’t say anything about this so I didn’t do it, and instead just used the glazing compound on the inside of the frame. In retrospect, I would totally have used the caulk though. Particularly because it’s not “sticky” like caulk is, and the shape of the glazing tube isn’t conducive to applying a neat line of compound to set the glass into.

Uh. As you can see.


Not the prettiest thing I’ve ever done with a caulk-gun. I also used a couple of screws to hold the glass in place while the compound set instead of the recommended glazing clips. Because I’m classy like that.

The long and short of it is, caulk or glazing should be applied to the inside of the frame, the glass gets set in place, and then glazing is applied to the outside of the frame.


Whereas I’m pretty confident at caulking things, I struggled applying the glazing compound smoothly because it had a different–almost lighter–consistency than I am used to. Luckily after it sets for 24 hours, it’s really easy to clean up with a utility knife.

A little paint, and…


I mean, the piece of insulation wadded up in the broken window added a touch of character to the house, I think. But this will have to do.

Even with a half hour trip to Lowe’s, this project still took under two hours and was another $30 fix for something that could have cost a lot more, and gets me one step closer to getting my money out of escrow. So I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying a lot lately about my projects on this house– It ain’t pretty, but it works.

14 Responses

    1. That’s what I was going to say! Kit – You do sound SO much like me! I was out moving irrigation pipe barefooted the other day. My neighbors think I’m crazy. But it only hurts if you step right on a thistle.

      I used to use the glazing compound in the tube, but have actually found the old school stuff in the can actually cleans up a little easier.

  1. I have replaced a couple panes of glass in my old house. Totally not a big deal once you have done a couple. And much cheaper than having it done. I use glazing points (clips) though. Really cheap and holds the glass in place really well! I have not perfected my glazing yet, but I am getting better!

  2. I used to do these all the time. Back when I was in high school and college I worked for a lumber company. I found the glazing compound in a can worked the best, but the key is to take a handful and knead it like dough, then roll it in your hand and make a strip resembling a snake, lay it in place then use your putty knife to push it into place and smooth it out at an angle…with your house you’ll have plenty of practice!

  3. Sorry last tip…use a heat gun and putty knife to remove old glazing. It removes it extremely fast and won’t chip/mar the wood like a chisel, etc…would. If your not careful it will burn the wood, but you can sand it down plus you’ll be repainting it anyway so your good to go!

  4. This is one of the projects I also KNOW how to do but put off until I just can’t stand it “n’more”. Great job and keep us posted on the contents of the bags. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  5. Dude – you made that look almost too easy! I, however, will never get the opportunity to replace an old window pane since every house in my region has dual pane and I don’t have a tank of “whatever toxic chemical” is pumped in between the panes on hand. So, yet another piece of magical DIY I’ll never get to experience. This is me making a sad face.

  6. Like Michele, I have dual pane windows so I’m going to lose out on this experience. Sniffle, sniffle. You did a great temporary fix!

  7. Hi do you install a glass block window in a old window like this do you keep the wording arch in place or take it out and cement it alll.

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