Repairing windows and doors doesn’t have to be a job for the specialist. Glass and frame repairs are possible on wooden framed windows but realistically only with single glazing, not double glazed windows.
Aluminium and PVCu double glazing window and door replacement or repair is probably best left to the manufacturers and may well require replacement windows, or at least sections. For these reasons we’ll concentrate on repairing single glazed wooden and metal framed windows and doors in this article.
Removing Glass for Repair
Repairing broken panes of glass in wooden or metal window frames is straightforward, although care is required. Carefully remove what’s left of the glass, wearing thick gloves and toughened goggles for protection. Covering the remaining part of the window with sticky tape will hold it together and minimise the risk of injury from cut edges or flying shards of glass. Use a knife and scraper to remove the rest of the putty, taking care not to damage the frame.
If the glass is being replaced in a door or window with a wooden frame, remove all the nails (also known as sprigs) that hold the glass in place. These can be thrown away, and probably should be, as replacements are easy to come by.
If you are working with a metal framed window or door you will find clips holding the glass into the frame. Take care to remove these without breaking or bending them so that they can be reused, as replacements are difficult to source. Clean out the channel and make sure any holes used to locate the clips are clean and clear. If necessary this is the ideal time to protect the window by rubbing down and removing old paint and recoating.
Repairing the Frame of a Window or Door
Repairing a wooden window frame may be trickier than a metal frame, but at least it is possible. If corrosion has attacked a metal frame has broken though at any point, the only sensible course of action is a replacement window.
With a wooden window or door frame the problems are likely to be rotten wood but it can be cut and chiselled out and replacement wood let into the frame. Obviously there will come a point when it’s too far gone and a replacement window is the only option but there’s a lot that can be done before that point. Once the replacement sections are in place, a good few coatings of primer then gloss paint will keep the elements at bay.
Setting in Replacement Panes
Once everything is ready, offer up your replacement pane of glass, which you should have had cut to size by the glazier. Allow 3mm less all round with a wooden framed pane to allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the wood through the seasons. It should fit well but not catch on the frame.
Assuming it fits, take it out and prepare the putty, making sure you get the right one to match your frame, wood or metal, although there are now some makes that are suitable for both. Prepare the putty according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Place a bead of putty all around the inside of the channel where the pane will sit and set the pane against the frame, pressing at the sides, not the centre, as you may break the new pane. Then secure the pane either with clips, for a metal frame, or sprigs, if it’s wood. Tap the sprigs in gently with a chisel edge which can be slid on to the sprig head with a piece of card between the chisel and the pane for protection.
Finishing Off the Repair or Replacement
Once the pane is secure, add more putty to the exterior surface of the frame and smooth in with a putty knife. Aim to create a 45 degree slope with neat corners to help rain drain away. Once the putty has hardened, which can take a week or more depending on the weather, the surface can be painted. Allow the paint to overlap the putty onto the glass for a millimetre or two all the way round the frame, this creates a seal to stop water working its way behind the putty.