How to Replace Glass Panels in a Front Door

a door with glass panels
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 200-400
What You'll Need
Replacement glass panel(s)
Glass cutter
Caulking gun

Many of us take the glass panels in our doors for granted. And yet, most of us do, at some point, have to deal with repairing or replacing them. You come home from a night out to see that someone has broken the glass panels in your door, or maybe you accidentally break them while trying to move furniture in and out of your home. However it happened, you're now faced with the daunting task of replacing them. On top of being a security hazard, they're also unattractive, and practically hemorrhage energy. Although you, and many others, may balk at the idea of having to replace the panels, and may opt instead to replace the entire door, the process of replacing your door's glass panels is simpler than you may think.

What You Need

Before beginning work on your door, you'll need to buy a replacement panel (or several) of glass. You'll also need a glass cutter, chisel, caulk, caulking gun and glue. You may also wish to have some paint in the same color as your door on hand. In addition, you should know before starting your project where you can safely dispose of the old, broken glass panel. Be sure that all of your equipment is within reach before beginning any part of your project.

How It Works

You will first remove the broken glass from the door. You must do this very carefully, to avoid injury to yourself or others. To do this, you remove the molding from around the glass. It may be necessary to use your chisel to dislodge the molding and remove any adhesive originally used to attach it. Be very careful when removing the molding, as you will need it again later. Carefully remove the broken glass, and dispose of it in a safe place.

Then, measure to see how big your new panel must be. When you're measuring, leave 1/16 inch free on all of the sides. Cut your panel to this size, using your glass cutter and your straight edge. Once you have cut the glass, you can place the panel into the door. Caulk around it, and then replace the molding that you removed earlier, using caulk to hold it in place, as well.


Use gloves when working with glass—broken and whole. This will keep you from injuring yourself on the sharp pieces. Your new panel will be especially sharp after cut, so take extra precaution during this time.

You may wish to use wood filler when replacing the molding around the panel, especially if your door is old and there is a high probability of you accidentally damaging the molding while removing it.

If re-painting the area around the replaced glass, be sure to use painter's tape to avoid soiling the new glass. Nothing is quite as effective at detracting from the appearance of a door than a sloppy paint job. Save yourself the trouble of removing stray, unwanted paint from glass panes: invest in some painter's tape.