Replacing Single and Double Pane Windows

By HomeAdvisor

Updated August 25, 2021


Though there used to be few choices when it came to what kind of windows your home could have, today’s homeowners have a veritable smorgasbord of options. Windows in general provide poor insulation. Older windows in particular allow a great deal of heat transfer, which gave the inspiration to find newer and better window materials. The large amount of window designs now available are a good thing when it comes to building a house, but it can also make repairs a bit trickier as the process of replacing a broken window pane is no longer the same for every window.

Single Window Panes

A single window pane is the easiest to replace. The process can be a bit time-consuming, but the replacement should not require a large carpentry or construction background.

The materials that window frames are made of are more diverse than they were 50 years ago, when they were mostly made of wood. Wooden window frames can still be found in many homes, but the trends have been leaning more towards aluminum and vinyl frames because of their low maintenance requirements.

A cracked window pane is a cracked window pane, no matter what material the frame is made from. However, the frame’s composition can make the process of replacing a broken pane easier or more difficult. Wooden frames, in most cases, are the easiest to work with, followed by aluminum, and finally vinyl. There are online guides available for the DIY that will explain step-by-step how to replace the window pane in each type of frame. A physical instruction manual may also be available from the company who manufactured the window, or even at your local home improvement center.

Double Window Panes

The process of replacing a double window pane is significantly more involved. When one pane is cracked or broken, with rare to no exception, both panes will need to be replaced. Double window panes should also be replaced when moisture appears between the two pieces of glass. This means that the unit’s seal has been compromised and the problem will only get worse.

Installing new window panes is a bigger job than it may seem. Though you will most likely be able to find comprehensive instructions on how to do it, the process requires a fair degree of knowledge and an even larger degree of finesse. An experienced DIY might give it a whirl, but, as replacing window glass costs hundreds of dollars or more, and is a delicate procedure, it’s probably time to call in a pro.

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Picture Windows

Most picture windows are single-paned, but there are some dual-paned models out there as well. Whether it has a single or double window pane, replacing a broken picture window is an enormously delicate and difficult job. This will take not just one professional, but possibly a small team of them. It is not something you can do without proper training and equipment, and the materials are expensive enough that it needs to be done right the first time.

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