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How to Replace a Glass Insert in a Door

Use these step-by-step instructions to replace plexiglass installed in a front door with beveled art glass.

More in Remodeling

replacing old windows of 1909 queen anne victorian

Step 1: Remove the Door

Remove the door hinge-pins. Remove the door from the frame and lay it flat on sawhorses, taking care to protect the surfaces of the door.

get door ready to remove the old glass

Step 2: Remove the Molding

Use a utility knife to break the paint seal and begin separating the molding (Image 1).

Use a small, flat pry-bar to separate the wooden window stop molding from the door frame (Image 2). If possible, try to separate the molding from the frame without breaking the molding. (In our case, the molding was so deteriorated that it came off in pieces.) Remove the window stop molding and set it aside.

Step 3: Remove the Plexiglass

Remove any glazing point holding the plexiglass in place and remove any old glazing compound that would prevent the plexiglass from being removed.

Gently remove the plexiglass, taking care not to damage the door frame as the plastic is removed.

Step 4: Clean the Door Frame

Clean off the door frame surface with a putty knife or scraping tool as needed. Take care not to gouge the wood surface.

Remove any remaining glazier points.

Clean off the door frame with a light cleaning solution and let it dry.

Step 5: Add a Bead of Glazing Compound

Apply a bead of fresh glazing compound to the perimeter of the door frame. An oil- or acrylic-based compound will work. Acrylic is preferred, as it leaves no residue on glass.

seal glass insert with bead of caulk

Step 6: Install the Glass

Double check the measurements of the glass and opening, then carefully insert the new glass into the door-frame opening (Image 1). Press the glass down to bed it into the glazing compound.

Press in glazing points around the perimeter of the frame to secure the glass (Image 2).

Step 7: Install and Paint the Wooden Glass Stops

Apply a thin bead of glazing compound to the exposed side of the glass at the frame (Image 1).

Re-install the wooden glass stops, or add new wooden stops as needed. Use a brad nailer to secure the wooden stops (Image 2).

Tip: Using a hammer can be dangerous around glass. The nail gun is a better choice.

Paint the wooden stops. Painting the wooden stops down to the glass ensures a paint seal between the glass and the wood. It's a good idea to prime new wooded stops prior to installation, when possible.

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