Installing Front Door Glass

installing front door glass

On the journey to a newly painted front door, one of the panels of leaded glass decided to break.  Fortunately, they were tempered glass so there are no injuries to report (and I secretly wanted to replace them anyway…). After some diligence and some plywood to cover the hole in our door for a week, I was able to install the new glass myself. However, installing front door glass was a little more challenging than I first thought.  I mean, I had seen it done on the DIY network, so how hard could it be??? The concept wasn’t difficult, but it was definitely more manual labor than I planned on.

So this is the door before…

And this is the broken glass…

Not too bad, minus the broken glass, but the brass (even though brass has made a comeback!) made me feel like I was staring at a door circa 1995.   Once the commitment to change was made for us via the broken pane, I called many local distributors and was quite disappointed at some of the borderline chauvinistic responses:

“You’re gonna have your husband help you right, ma’am?”  and  “Well I’ll sell ya the glass, but I wouldn’t recommend you trying to install it without some help.”

Those few comments made me even more determined to tackle this project myself. After finding an online retailer to cut and temper half inch glass (measured to my rough opening specifications), I researched installation methods while I waited for my order to ship. Here is what arrived a few days later:

I gathered my supplies:

  1. A putty knife to remove the window stops.
  2. A utility knife
  3. DAP silicone caulk for Windows and Doors
  4. Small 1/2 inch finishing nails
  5. A nail set
  6. Hammer

After carefully scoring the edges of the window stops (removable trim around the inside of the windows) I gently wiggled and pried the stops out with my putty knife.  I used the utility knife to further score the edges of the previous windows to loosen and remove them from the old caulk.  Finally, I scraped the edges of the window ledges to remove any traces of old caulk.

Now I had two holes in the door (which the cat almost jumped out of btw!)…time to install the new glass.  I used my suction cups made for glass and mirror (the same ones I used for my home gym transformation) to help me maneuver the glass safely.  Even though I bought tempered safety glass, it’s best to be safe and use the right equipment, rather than sorry.  I ran a bead of the silicone window caulk around the edge of the window opening and then gently set the new glass in place.

Below you can see the glass after it was set in place with the silicone caulk.  It takes time for the silicone to cure so I heavily taped the glass to make sure it didn’t slide or fall.  The silicone had quite a bit of grab, so it didn’t take long to set up.

After setting the windows in place I left them to cure for 24 hours before re-installing the window stops.

The glass looked great and crystal clear, but it was also offering the neighbors a crystal clear view into our house. Needless to say, we wanted a little more privacy.  I ordered clear glass, first because it was the least expensive, and secondly, so I could have the option of dressing the windows many different ways.  I have used frosted glass privacy film in the past and have had good results, although this time I wanted something a little different.

At Lowes I browsed the selection of window film and decided on Gila Sidelights window film in Rainwater pattern.  I love rain glass and this seemed to mimic the look rather well.  Installation was simple and pretty much the same as regular window film.  I installed it prior to replacing the window stops so the film edges would be hidden behind the trim.  I cut the film the same size as the glass measurements.  Window film manufacturers always try to sell their application solution, but actually Windex works just as well.  After my film was cut to size, I sprayed the window and the backside of the film with a ton of Windex and set it in place.  Since this pattern has a texture to it, I used a rag as a substitute for the credit card to smooth out the bubbles.  Smoothing out the air bubbles is probably the hardest part and rubbing the heck out of the film is the only thing that gets rid of them.  After all the Windex dried, I still had to go back and smooth some areas.

I let the window film dry out for another 24 hours before reattaching the window stops.  The silicone had a good hold on the glass, so there was no worry.  Here’s the final picture that shows the rain glass texture after the window stops were nailed in place using the nail set and finishing nails. Since the raw wood on the backside of the window stops could be seen through the glass, I painted the backside of the window stops black so it would blend with the door.

I have finished everything that I set out to do, however, looking at this photo there are still a few tiny bubbles I need to smooth out (grrr), but it’s done. Painted door + New windows + Textured window film = Happy Entry Way!  So glad to be done!

new front door glass

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Installing Front Door Glass — 6 Comments

  1. Good for you for replacing it yourself! You did an amazing job! I wasn’t brave enough to install the glass myself when we were building our media console;) I hate it when some men think women aren’t capable of doing jobs like this themselves. I showed an employee at Lowes the plans for the kitchen island I built my mom while I was purchasing the wood. His response was “you really think it will end up looking like that?” I see him in there sometimes and want to show him a picture of the finished product and make him eat his words;)

    • Oh I totally would go show him, lol. I’m glad I did it too. I’ve installed mirrors before, but I was worried about the front door since it is the first impression of our home. Glad you like it!

  2. Aww how did the glass break? You did an great job at installing the glass. Trust me I get so annoyed when men think that we need them for everything lol.

    • I probably should have mentioned that, but it’s kind of embarrassing, lol. Before I even painted I wanted to see if I could take the window apart and remove the leaded glass – it was a triple pane sandwich with the leaded glass in the middle. I got the window out with no problem and when I carefully (carefully, I promise!) set it down I guess I hit the corner just right and it imploded on itself. There must have been a stress point somewhere in there that made it do that, because the other window wasn’t fragile at all. At any rate, I got what I wanted it just took a few more steps!

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    • Lol that’s ironic. I guess great minds think alike! Glad you like it – I’ve never designed a blog template from scratch like this so I appreciate the compliment.

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