How to Replace Sidelight Panels

  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150
What You'll Need
Flexible putty knife
Needle nose pliers
Safety gloves
Replacement glass
Wood strip sealant
What You'll Need
Flexible putty knife
Needle nose pliers
Safety gloves
Replacement glass
Wood strip sealant

The sidelight panels on your door may crack or fade over time and will require replacement to retain the natural beauty that you once enjoyed. Keep in mind that this a mildly tedious procedure that requires a few special tools that you can buy at the nearest hardware store. Not all sidelight panels are installed the same way but a majority of sidelight panels are encased in a wooden frame that is milled to accompany the width of the glass. This is further complemented by small wooden trim strips—the glazing beads— that hold the glass in place.

Step 1 – Preparation

Inspect the wood frame on the sidelight panel to determine the mode of installation. As previously mentioned above, glass panels are encased by a wooden frame that has a recessed area built in to accommodate the glass. Look for a uniform hairline crack about ½ inch from the edge of the glass. This is the edge of the wood trim.

Step 2 – Remove Trim

Use a flexibly putty knife with a thin edge to penetrate the hairline crack. Lightly tap or hammer the putty knife until it plunges to the sidelight frame. Remember that the wood strip is held in place by the wind- and moisture-repellent sealant applied at the factory during production. This seal may harden over time and could prove difficult to remove. It would be best to exercise due caution when removing the trim strip. Use the putty knife to dig into all areas of the strip to loosen and remove the sealant and possibly cut off the finishing nail that holds it in place. Carefully pry off the wood strip. Set this aside.

Step 3 – Remove Fasteners

Use needle-nose pliers to remove staples or nails that were used to hold the wooden strip in place. It is best to have a friend assist you during this process as the glass may suddenly fall off the frame even with just a slight tap. The only thing holding the glass in place at this juncture is surface friction from paint or interior glazing compounds used in the manufacturing process. It is also advised that you now wear a pair of safety gloves to protect your hands from sharp objects during the removal process.

Step 4 – Remove Glass Sidelight

Ask your friend or helper to push the glass from the inside. Gently push the glass starting from the top while you catch the glass from the outside. If the process goes according to plan, the safe and effective removal of the wood trim from the frame will facilitate the easy removal of the glass sidelight. Set the glass aside.

Step 5 – Clean the Frame

Use a putty knife to further remove dirt and other contaminants from the recessed area on the frame. This will make sure that the new glass fits smoothly on the frame with no danger of damage on the sides.

Step 6 – Install New Glass

Place small pieces of automotive 2-sided tape around the perimeter to the rabbet recess, slightly back from the rabbet edge and every foot or so and at least 2 pieces per side, where the outside face of the glass will sit. This is to create a thin space between the wood and the glass surface to properly form a seal of silicone, by running a bead of silicone around the full perimeter of that rabbet and between the rabbet's edge and the pieces of 2-sided tape. This will keep moisture and water from outside from getting in.

Install the new glass by first placing 2 spacers at the bottom of the frame where the glass will rest, then inserting the top end in the recess, and letting the glass sit on the spacers, which should be of a soft material such as neoprene. Finally, putting pressure against the glass to squeeze it into the silicone bead, you can re-install the glazing beads without using any more sealant on the inside.

Always remember to put on safety gloves when performing tasks such as replacing sidelight panels. While the task is relatively easy, it is still best to be fully prepared to prevent certain injuries that may arise while doing the activity.