Replacing a Glass Frame in an Exterior Door

  • 01 of 11

    Exterior Door Design

    entry door with broken muntin frame 2015

    Steel exterior doors with glass often have what looks like a grid of small windows. But in reality, those windows are a single thermal glass unit with a plastic frame that creates the appearance of individual, or "divided-light," windows. If one of the frame pieces (called muntin bars) is damaged, you can simply replace the frame. Frames are typically sold as kits that include both interior and exterior frame halves. You can find replacement kits at home centers and online, or contact the door manufacturer for recommendations. 

    Supplies Needed:

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  • 02 of 11

    Score Around the Frame

    scoring inside of window frame for removal
    Score the perimeter of the frame / door corner to break the paint seal. 2015

    Use a utility knife to cut through the paint film where the decorative window frame meets the door, starting at one corner and working around the perimeter. Cut just deeply enough to break the paint or caulk sealing the frame to the door. Do this on both sides of the door. 

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  • 03 of 11

    Remove the Frame Screws

    screws holding frame in place
    Remove screws attaching the two halves of the plastic frame together. © 2015

    Remove the screws securing the exterior and interior halves of the plastic frame together, using a screwdriver. If the screws are concealed beneath plastic plugs, take another screw and screw into the plug about 1/4 inch, then pull the screw straight out, with the plastic plug attached, then remove the frame screw.

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  • 04 of 11

    Remove the Glass and Frames

    removing glass frame from door 2015

    Remove the interior half of the window frame. You may have to use a putty knife or similar thin-blade tool to get under the frame to gain leverage. Remove the exterior frame and glass panel. The glass panel will be attached to the exterior frame with adhesive, so the two pieces will come out together.

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  • 05 of 11

    Remove the Old Frame

    exterior door window panel
    © 2015

    Lay the glass panel and frame on a solid flat surface with the exterior frame facing up. Carefully remove the frame from the glass, using a putty knife or razor scraper to cut through any old caulk holding the frame in place. 

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  • 06 of 11

    Clean the Glass

    cleaning window of old paint
    Clean glass of all old paint and adhesive. 2015

    Use a razor scraper to clean the glass of all old paint and adhesive residue on both sides of the glass panel. Keep the razor's edge flat on the glass so as not to scratch it. Clean the glass panel with glass cleaner. 

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  • 07 of 11

    Prepare the Window Frame Kit

    preparing new window muntins
    Prepare the window frame surround for installation. 2015

    Separate the two halves of the replacement frame assembly and place the half with no screw holes face down on your work surface. The side with no screw holes is the exterior side of the frame.

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  • 08 of 11

    Caulk the Exterior Frame

    silicone on glass 2015

    Apply a continuous bead of clear silicone caulk around the perimeter of the exterior frame half.

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  • 09 of 11

    Set the Glass Onto the Frame

    glass on muntins
    Place window unit onto exterior half of frame. © 2015

    Carefully lay the glass unit onto the exterior half of the plastic frame, and press the window into place. Expect some caulk to ooze out. This is normal, and you can clean it up later with rubbing alcohol once the window is in place but before the caulk dries. You can also remove traces of dried caulk with a razor scraper.

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  • 10 of 11

    Install the Window Unit

    attached window to door 2015

    Carefully lift the exterior frame and glass assembly into the door opening from the outside of the door. Have a helper hold the unit in place from the outside while you position the new interior half of the frame on the inside of the door and secure the two halves with the provided screws. Note: The interior half of the frame does not need to be caulked. 

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  • 11 of 11

    Add the Screw Hole Plugs

    screw plugs
    Optional plastic plugs conceal the screw holes. 2015

    Insert the plastic screw hole plugs that came with the kit, as applicable, to conceal the screws on both sides of the door.