Replacing A Glass Insert In An Exterior Door

You know one of the great things about buying a brand spankin’ new house?  Everything is new and things shouldn’t need replacing for a long time.  And if they do?  No worries – there’s warranty! If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ll notice that Goose and I replaced the glass in one of our exterior doors.  All that warranty assurance goes out the window if the original company goes out of business.

Original Door With Full Length Glass Insert

This is what our door looked like originally.  It was great for blending in with the full bank of windows in the eating area.  What it wasn’t great for (even before the seal gave way and the rain and wind began pouring through) was allowing everybody to eat their meals without the need for sunglasses.  Home Depot had a sale on (15% off!) on all exterior doors and parts so off we trundled.  We were only going to replace the door itself and not the frame.  Since only pre-hung doors are kept in stock, this was going to have to be a special order.  After some hemming and hawing, I went over to order the door.  That’s when I met an associate who pointed out that, unless we were certain that this was a Jeld-Wen door (and it wasn’t), he couldn’t promise us that everything would line up.   Say what?

Each manufacturer, he explained, has their own standards and none of them really line up with one another.  So, my options were again changed.  Either order an entirely new door with frame or just order a new insert.  Since we are handy but not that handy, I went with just the insert, even though it was about 75% of the price of just the door.

On Install Day we eagerly opened the box and found the new glass insert, including the lovely in-glass mini-blinds.  Unfortunately, that’s all we found in the box.  Nowhere were there even a single line of instructions.  No worries, we thought.  This is 2015.  We will just hop on the internet – surely the instructions will be there.  After a bit of digging, we did eventually find some on Home Depot’s own site.  It truly is a simple project and as long as you’ve got a second set of hands to help, this really is an easily accomplished task.

Screw Covers Removed from Glass Door Window Insert

One of the trickiest parts was removing the old screw covers.  I found an awl to be the best tool for the job.  There is no saving these and you won’t need them again anyways.  Jam in whatever it is you use and gently pry them loose.  Don’t forget the ones in the corner.  The screws should only be located on the interior side of the door.

Cutting Paint From Trim

If your door has been painted on both or either side, gently slide a putty knife along the edge to loosen the window trim.  With the door open and someone standing on the other side, gently pop off the interior door trim.  Carefully take the panel out and set safely aside.

Water Damage to Foam Interior of Exterior Door

As you can see, the damage from our broken glass door insert was starting to take it’s toll.  We blew out all the bits and pieces and carefully sanded the painted exterior edges.  We didn’t attempt to clean any of the mould that had begun to grow for fear of damaging the foam core.

Lining Up Window Insert to Re-Install

Next, from the interior side, carefully set the insert into the door.  Remember, the attached trim should face out.  With someone holding onto the door and steadying the glass, line up the interior trim.  The trim will ‘click’ into place at each of the screw holes.  Put in all the screws, being careful not to over-tighten.  As you put the screws in, the interior and exterior trim will be pulled towards the door.

Two Different Types of Screw Covers

The last piece of the puzzle are these little gems.  Be careful – there are two different kinds.  There will be four ‘bent’ ones (like on the left) that are designed for the corners and the flat ones, that go everywhere else.  You probably won’t be sent any extras and the chances of getting them back out in one piece are pretty slim.  I found I could push most of them in by hand.  There are tabs on the back that you might need to use a flat head screw driver to gently coax into the screw hole.

Jeld Wen Glass Replacement Insert with Mini Blinds

And now – ta da!  No more blinding sun while eating breakfast.  No more rain pouring through the window.  No more worrying that the rattling glass is going to give way and shatter into a million pieces on the floor when the kids run in and out.  This was a completely realistic DIY project that I feel just about anybody can accomplish.

So, tell me – have you tackled a DIY job lately that you thought was best left to the professionals?  How did it turn out?

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