How to Replace a Exterior Door Glass Insert

a photograph of a classic, earthy-colored brick home covered in vines with a front door that has a glass insert

If you notice a crack in your front door’s glass panel or do not like the look of your glass panel anymore, it is time for a glass door repair. We can also do other glass inserts, such as sliding door mirror replacements in your bedroom or bathroom for you. Today, we are going through the steps so you can know what a glass door repair job looks like from start to finish.

Safety First

First, cover any cracked glass that is likely to shatter with duct or packing tape. Doing this will prevent glass shards from getting scattered all over the place. Use extra caution and attach tape over every part of the glass panel, not just the visibly cracked part. If you feel nervous or uncomfortable about doing the job yourself at any point, do not hesitate to call us for professional assistance. The tools you will need for this project include a tape measure, screwdriver, putty knife, utility knife, hammer, wire brads, nail set, caulk or glazing compound, and a caulk gun.

Measure the Insert

Taking down measurements is crucial because you do not want the new glass panel to be too small or too big. When properly installed, glass panels will sit inside the door, held in place by four stops. Your next step is to measure the distance from the outer edge of one stop to the outer edge of the opposite one. Subtract an ⅛ to ¼ inch from your measurement to allow for space around all four sides. Double-check your measurements and write them down so you will not forget. Next, select your desired glass insert and purchase safety glass for your glass door repair. Safety glass has two glass panes with a piece of plastic glued in between them.

Remove the Wooden Stops

The wood pieces that frame the glass panel in your door are known as the stops. Your next step is carefully but firmly prying the wooden stops with a flathead screwdriver. Please do your best not to damage the stops because you will have to reattach them at the end. If the stops are screwed on, remove the screws and lay everything off to the side.

Carefully Remove the Old Pane

Have a second person (if possible) there, ready to remove the old glass panel from the door. It is best to have them wear gloves when removing the broken glass.

Clean the Opening

The new glass won’t fit if you leave the old glazing or caulking material behind. Your next step is to scrape all of that off with a stiff putty knife or utility knife.

Lay the Caulk or Glazing Compound

Insert your desired caulk or glazing compound in a caulking gun and remove the lid. Maintain pressure on the caulk gun handle by squeezing it with your fingers. Make a straight line of caulk or glazing compound around the perimeter of the opening.

Put in the New Pane

Next, attach your new window pane and press firmly on all sides to keep it in place. You can also use glazing points in all four corners as an extra safety precaution. Glazing points are thin pieces of metal with a sharp point on one side, which will keep a grip on the glass and wood without obscuring your view.

Reattach the Stops

Lastly, use a hammer to nail in several wire brads on your stops before you reattach them to the door. Place the stops in their original positions on the frame, then carefully hammer in the brads. Use a nail set to make them sink below the wood’s surface, allowing your stops to appear as if nothing is holding them in place.


Now you know how to repair and replace your glass door panel. If you run into problems during the process, you are welcome to contact us at 805-526-1067. We would be happy to walk you through the steps over the phone or stop by and give you a hand on your glass door repair project if necessary.

If you would like to see our available options for glass doors, then please visit our website for more information.