The glass panes in windows are secured to the frame structure using one of several methods, but a popular choice for contemporary windows is snap-in plastic glazing beads. These "beads," which are actually long, thin strips of molded plastic, are easy to install and remove, and they provide a clean appearance that requires little maintenance. However, due to the effects of time and weathering, even plastic glazing beads will need to be replaced on an infrequent basis. Below is how you can remove old snap-in glazing beads and replacements:
What you will need
Flat-blade screwdriver or putty knife
Razor blade scraper
Spray glass cleaner
Leather work gloves
Replacement snap-in glazing beads
1. Prepare to work safely - Any time you work with glass, you must protect your body from injury. Shattered glass fragments can cause severe eye injury, and the sharp edges can make deep cuts in your skin. Be sure to wear eye protection and leather gloves to keep yourself safe from harm.
2. Remove the old snap-in glazing beads - If possible, remove the window sash from the frame, and lay it on a flat, firm surface to perform the work of replacing the glazing beads. If removal is impossible, you will need to do the job while the pane is in a vertical position, so be extra cautious to prevent the glass pane from falling once the beads are removed.
To take out the old beads, slide a flat-blade screwdriver tip or putty knife blade under the edge of the plastic adjacent to the frame and pry upward. Do not place the blade of the tool on the glass, as you may accidentally crack or shatter the pane while prying. Grab the loose end of the strip as you work your way along the entire length of the bead, then lift it out of position once it is completely loosened. Repeat this step for all the glazing beads.
3. Remove and clean the glass pane - After the glazing beads are removed, carefully lift the pane from the frame and set it aside on a secure, cushioned surface. If there are water deposits or other bits of stuck-on debris around the edge of the pane, use a razor blade to scrape them from the glass. Generously spray the glass with any available glass cleaner and wipe it clean with paper towels. Also, wipe down the inside of the window frame to remove any debris that may have gathered around the edges of the glass.
4. Install the glass and new snap-in glazing beads - Once the glass and inside of the window frame are cleaned, place the pane back into position inside the frame. Next, measure the width and length of the inside of the frame with a tape measure. Using a utility knife, cut four pieces of snap-in glazing beads: two pieces equal to the width of the frame, and two equal to the length.
Take one of the pieces cut for the width and lay it across the bottom of the window pane. Beginning in the middle of the glazing bead, push it firmly backward and downward into position until it locks in place. Continue pushing along the piece in both directions toward the corners until you have locked the entire section in place. Repeat this procedure for the top piece.
Next, use your utility knife to cut a 45-degree angle in each end of the glazing beads you just installed. Then, cut a 45-degree angle in the ends of the long bead sections; be sure the angle directions are proper for the strip orientation and are not reversed.
Finish the installation by pushing the remaining two strips into the window frame. If necessary, make small trimming cuts in the strips, so their ends are perfectly flush with one another in the corners of the frame.
If you don't feel comfortable doing this on your own, contact a local home window installation company.