Old metal window frames and most old wooden ones were designed so that the glass could be held in place by putty (referred to by professionals as "glazing compound"): the metal or wooden strips were there to supply extra strength to the glass. Today's glass does not require this support; however, paned windows are visually appealing and glazing over time must be repaired or replaced to keep the windows weatherproof. Glazing an old window is easy to do, and will save you hundreds of dollars over hiring a local glass distributor.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Putty knife
- Eye protection
- Glazing tool
- Glazing compound
- Masking tape (if necessary)
- Work gloves
- Flat razor
Put on work gloves and eye protection. Cover any broken or cracked glass with masking tape to prevent getting cut. Remove by hand all the old bits of glazing that are dried, cracked or falling off.
Remove the rest of the glazing compound on one side of the window only by gently prying it free. A glazing knife is an excellent tool for doing this because it has several edges of varying sizes to get into all the cracks and crevices. Be sure not to remove any "glazing points," which are small metal tack-like objects used to hold the glass in place during the original installation.
Apply new glazing compound to the areas where the old glazing was removed. Try to match the original contours of the glaze, so that at least 1/2 inch of glaze covers all portions of the glass adjacent to the wood or metal. Pack the glazing compound tightly against the frame. This is especially important for strength and weatherproofing purposes.
Round and smooth the glazing compound edges so that it looks uniform and is even across the glass/frame joints. Allow enough overlap onto the metal or wooden frame that it "grabs" the frame for strength. Don't worry about getting excess glazing on the windows: it can be removed with a flat razor after it dries.
Remove the glaze from the reverse side of the window, then reglaze it. When glazing the second side of the window be careful to "mound" the glazing equally to the first side. A good way to check this is to look out each side of the window. You should see glazing only on the side of the window closest to you. If you see glaze on the other side it is too built up and should be removed so that both sides are glazed identically.
Allow glazing to dry for at least 48 hours before applying any paint or applying any additional pressure to the glaze.
Tips and warnings
- Glazing compound may be smoothed with a damp rag several hours after installation.
- Be extremely careful when working with old glass. Always wear eye and hand protection.
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