How To Replace Garage Door Window Inserts: Complete Guide


If you’re looking for new inserts or your current garage door inserts require a replacement, then you’re probably looking for a way to DIY the replacement process. This article will provide you with the information you need to replace your garage door window inserts successfully. 

Replacing garage door window inserts is similar to replacing standard windows. It does, however, depend on the type of window panels you have on your garage door. The process involves:

  1. Ordering new windows
  2. Planning your replacement process
  3. Replacing the windows 

Not only will this article cover the different instances of the replacement process, but it will also cover safety precautions and the tools required to replace your window inserts safely. If you’re interested in a successful window insert replacement process, then be sure to keep reading. 

How Can You Replace your Garage Door Inserts? 

There are various reasons why you have decided to replace your garage door inserts. It could be that: 

  • You have a broken window 
  • Your current windows don’t fit your style 
  • You want additional ventilation and light in your garage 
  • You just want new inserts 

Regardless of why, the replacement process can complete with the right tools, skill, and possible instruction manual. This article will work as a guide for any homeowners that are interested in doing the replacement process themselves. 

What are Garage Door Inserts?

Garage door inserts refer to the windows panel design plates commonly found on garage doors. The primary function of these windows is to allow light into your garage and act as design elements for your home. 

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There are different types of garage door inserts. The most commonly found garage door window inserts include:

  • Casement windows 
  • Awning Windows 
  • Standard Windows

Casement Windows 

Casement windows are also called crank windows. These windows open towards the side and in an outward direction. These windows also allow for ventilation. They are not the most commonly used window types in garages today but are around. 

Homeowners that take height more than width into account use them. You may find different variations of these window inserts offered by different companies.

Awning Windows 

The difference between awning windows and casement windows is that awning windows are hinged entirely on one side. They also open upwards instead of sideways like casement windows. 

You may have noticed awning windows in different variations, such as rectangles across the top of the garage door or probably in small clusters in the same direction on the garage door. 

Awning windows typically take width more than height into consideration, hence why they are more suitable for such styles. 

Although again not that common, they are available from specialty window retailers.

Standard Windows

Normal garage doors in North America have windows that do not open. Typically rectangular in shape, the inserts are commonly made of plastic and slide in and out relatively easily. As these are so simple, I’ll go into more detail about the more complicated variations.

There are other types of garage door inserts. These window inserts are specialized. As such, you may find that they have different functions, shapes, and styles. 

For homeowners that want to have these types of unique styles to their windows, you should take several considerations into account before delving into replacing them. 

Not only that, but some homeowners have invested in other types of window styles for their garages. For example, some homeowners have decided to add double-hung windows to their garages. 

It is another common window type; however, it is not as popular as casement or awning windows. Nevertheless, the market for these windows in the garage door industry does exist. 

Garage door window inserts also come in different types of glass styles or options.  The glass may come in the following styles: 

  • Clear glass 
  • Obscure glass 
  • Satin glass 
  • Antique glass 
  • Bronze glass 
  • Gray glass 

Please note that these glass options are primarily up to the manufacturer. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers will carry the same products. If you are in the market for a different glass style for your new replacement window, be sure to check with your manufacturer. 

Tools you need to Replace Garage Door Inserts 

Preparation, before the replacement process begins, is incredibly essential. It will ensure you have all your tools at your disposal, and it will shorten the time you’ll require to complete the replacement process. 

Moreover, it’s a good professional practice to have all your tools available before launching deep into this DIY project. Even if you’re not a professional, it’s good to have the mindset and practice. 

Here are the necessary tools required to enable an efficient window insert replacement process: 

  • A pry bar 
  • A flat-headed screwdriver 
  • A utility knife 
  • A tape measure 
  • A hammer 
  • An electric drill with screwdriver attachment 
  • A trim picking tool 

You will use these tools during the entire replacement process. It is essential to have them at hand. Not only is this good practice but it will also make the work a lot faster and easier. 

Safety Precautions during Glass Replacement Process

An electric drill is a power tool. It is wise that when handling a power tool, users should have the necessary equipment to protect them from unwanted accidents. 

In the case of an electric drill, it is also wise that you should have the following safety equipment: 

  • A pair of work gloves 
  • A pair of safety goggles 

These are to protect you as you handle the electric drill. Not only is the equipment essential, but following safety protocol is imperative to users. 

The OSHA has outlined some safety precautions when handling an electric drill. Some of these safety drills include: 

  • If you have long hair, make sure all of it is tied entirely to the back of your head. 
  • Ensure that you are wearing all the safety equipment, such as safety goggles and work gloves. 
  • Ensure that the parts of the drill that are required to be sharp are maintained. They should be sharp at all times. 
  • Ensure that the chuck is tight. Furthermore, before you start the drill, make sure that you remove the chuck key. 
  • You should ensure that the workpiece that you will be working on is secure. It is to restrict any risky and unwanted movement while using the electric drill. 
  • Before users start drilling onto the workpiece, they should conduct a test drill. Users should drill a small testing hole before they get to do work on their actual project. 
  • If you are working on a small object, then use a clamp stock. A clamp stock will ensure that the workpiece does not spin around while handling the electric drill. 
  • Ensure that you do not drill with one hand while the other hand is on the workpiece. 

There are other safety precautions mentioned in the guideline. However, these are the main precautions that will apply to a window insert replacement process.

 If you do require additional clarification on these safety precautions, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instruction guideline.  

Types of Replacement Methods

There are two types of replacement methods. You must know these two methods of replacing your garage door window inserts. 

These methods include: 

  • Full frame replacement method
  • The insert replacement method

As the name suggests, the full-frame replacement method involves removing the entire window frame. It includes removing the sash and replacing these parts with all new parts from a manufacturer. 

On the other hand, the insert replacement method involves keeping the frame, sash, and trim. All you have to do is slip in the new window from the side. 

The full-frame replacement method is more intricate than the insert replacement method. It is because you will be taking out the entire window, along with its parts. 

If you need to know how to differentiate when you need a full-frame replacement or an insert replacement, be sure to refer to the type of window you will be purchasing. 

Not only that, but be sure to confirm the installation guide from the manufacturers. Good manufacturers or suppliers will offer a quiz to their prospective buyers. 

The buyers can then get a free installation guide based on the window of their choice. You can bookmark this guide on your computer browser for later referral. You can study up on the guide before the window arrives. 

Steps to Replace your Garage Door Inserts

After gathering the necessary tools and the necessary safety equipment, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter and get to replacing your garage door window inserts. 

Whether you are replacing windows in other parts of your house or the garage, the process and tools remain the same. 

The only difference may apply when you’re installing different inserts. Nevertheless, everything stays the same. 

The Insert Replacement Method 

The insert replacement method will require you to use a trim picking tool. You will use the tool to remove the trim from the groove previously attached to the entire window frame. 

You want to remove only two sides of the trim. You simply want enough space for you to slip in the window insert. Remember that this is the simpler of the two methods. 

It is because it does not require you to remove the entire window and its frame altogether. You simply need two sides of the trim, and you can easily slip in the glass. 

After removing the trim, it’s time to install the insert. It is wise to put some oil on the edges of the glass. It would help if you had it to slip in or slide in easily. Also, make sure that you’re wearing gloves during this entire process. 

Kindly do not hurt yourself with glass or accidentally break the glass and hurt yourself in the process. It is also wise to check for any underlying debris before sliding in the glass. 

It would help if you avoided any blockage as much as possible. The best way is to check any debris left in the trim when you removed the old window. 

Finally, after you push the glass into place, you can now put back the trim that you had removed. Be careful not to remove all the trim pieces. It’s harder to put them all together. 

Just remove enough trim to give you enough space. You don’t even need to remove two of the trim. The process of putting the trim back together will be even more complicated. 

After placing back the trim and ensuring that they’re locked in their respective grooves, the task at hand is complete. The insert replacement method is complete, and your garage door window insert replacement process is successful. 

The Full Replacement Method 

  1. Ordering The Replacement Window

Professionals recommend that you order the replacement window a week or two weeks prior. It should give you a bit of a head start before the overall replacement can begin. 

Meaning that you have enough time to plan out the rest of the things you need to prepare. 

To complete the order, you require knowledge of the old window that you wish to replace. You should have information on the manufacturer and the exact product. It will help speed up the ordering process since it will be confirmed and then click to order. 

However, if you don’t have information on the manufacturer and the exact product, here’s where a tape measure comes in. 

Ensure that you take measurements of the height of the window, the width, and height of the window while it is inside the frame, and the sash width required for the incoming replacement window. 

The sash refers to the overall framework that is inside the frame. The sash is what holds the glass in place. This information will tell you which exact window you need to get from the manufacturer of your choice. 

  1. Planning How Long You’ll Take To Replace The Garage Door Window 

If you’re new to the process, you may not complete the entire replacement process in a day. Not only have you been waiting for the new window to arrive, but you may also require additional assistance. 

It is wise to have an extra pair of hands. This way, you can easily remove both parts of the sash holding the old window in place. 

If you require more than a day to complete the replacement process, be sure to have something at hand that can temporarily close the hole. You don’t want unwanted entries or people peeping into your property. 

With a chisel and hammer, it’s time to remove the sash. If your sash is made of wood, this is why you will be using a chisel and hammer to remove all sides of the sash altogether. It does include the center of the sash. 

  1. Installing The New Window And The New Sash

Test the new window before inserting it into place. You want to test if the new window meets the measurements previously given. If it does, then test drill the holes. 

Remember that one of the safety precautions is to pre-drill before you can start using the power drill. After this is complete, you can begin screwing in the top bracket into the window frame. 

The screwing also includes screwing in the sash. If you want to make things a tad bit easier, before screwing, you can use the electric or power drill to drill in the necessary holes. 

  1. Installing Your Insert Brackets. 

At this stage, you have two sets of brackets to install. You will place the first bracket 4 inches from the top of the window. You will do this on both sides of the window. 

After installing the top brackets, it’s time to install the bottom brackets. They will be placed 2 inches above the bottom side of the frame. 

You will also need a bracket in the middle of your fame. If you’re unsure as to where the middle is, use the tape measure to help you get started in closing off the brackets. 

  1. Its Time To Install The Lower Sash Filler Blocks 

You will then place the lower slash filler blocks on top of the top sash frame. You can accomplish this part of the process using a nail gun. Make sure you’re wearing protective gloves. 

The purpose of the sash filler blocks is to hold the top sash part of the frame in place. You must securely place everything. 

  1. You Will Now Install The Track. 

The track gets installed inside the jambs. The purpose of this is to allow the window sashes to move either as a slide or a lift. 

Ensure that you have correctly proportional tracks, also called jamb liners in some countries. They need to fit the window frame correctly. Their purpose is to provide a way through whereby the lower sash can move up or down. 

Make sure to screw in the jamb liners on either side of the window. They have to be parallel to the lower sash filler blocks for them to fulfill their purpose. 

Finally, ensure that you snap both of the jamb liners on either side. 

  1. The Last Step Is To Install The Lower Sash. 

It will finally close off the replacement process. You will be required to slide the pivot pin into place. Its required positioning is the jamb liner groove.

After sliding it in, you simply snap it into the sash balance on both sides. Then finally, you lift the lower sash into place. 

Voila, you can now test how your window is working at this juncture. The complete replacement method is a tad bit long and complex, but it is worth the time to see your results come to life. 

Considerations When It Comes To The Insert Replacement Process 

When it comes to replacing your garage door inserts, you must understand that not everything is replaceable. The initial installation process of these windows will heavily determine the replaceability aspect of these windows. 

Homeowners must be aware that some garage door window inserts are replaceable while others are not. This entirely up to the manufacturer. 

As shared earlier, the replacement process starts with ordering the replacement window. However, some windows are not classified as ‘replaceable’ by the manufacturer. These could be a result of numerous factors such as: 

  • Your garage door window inserts are old, and thus, the manufacturer doesn’t make those window panes anymore. 
  • These windows are irreplaceable due to the complex installation process. 

As a homeowner, it is essential to know that you cannot replace some garage door inserts. These window panels are built entirely into the garage door.  

It means that for you to change the window panels, you will have to change your entire garage door. Some situations arise where you won’t have to change the entire garage door, but you may alter the window panel. 

Hence, it is essential to consider the installation process of the garage door window inserts. This way, you won’t be stuck with an irreplaceable window panel. 

These are some of the reasons why manufacturers do not produce specific types of window panes.

But What If Your Window Inserts Are Irreplaceable? 

If your windows are irreplaceable and require inserts immediately, your next best solution is to cut the glass yourself. Of course, you accomplish this after taking the measurements of the old window pane. 

Sometimes, your garage window door inserts may be a tad bit too old. In that situation where finding the proper inserts is close to impossible, you may have to cut the glass yourself. 

It may seem a bit dangerous and risky, but it is quite possible to complete the right tools and instructions. The glass cutting tools are also easily accessible in multiple stores. 

Your next solution is to do a full-frame replacement. It will require you to remove both the window and the frame altogether. You will have to order all the necessary parts; it will also be more complex and require more time. 

Nevertheless, the replacement will be done and dusted. 

The final solution and the least favorite would be to change your garage door entirely. It will require more research and, quite frankly, the help of a professional. 

If the first two methods are pretty unhelpful, it’s best to try out all your options. It is possible to DIY your entire garage door. However, it requires a lot more skill and numerous instructions to get you started. 

For example, when installing garage doors will require more tools and time to complete. You will need to: 

  • Measure the door opening 
  • Assemble the door tracks 
  • Installation of the first section (this is the door section)
  • Attaching the tracks over the door section 
  • Attaching the lift cables 
  • Installing the door hinges 
  • Adding the next sections 
  • Installing the top section 
  • Completing the installation of the tracks 

And many other steps that go into completing the garage door. It is yet to include the steps required to add a window insert into your garage door. It is the last resort, only if you have no choice in the end. 

Faqs On Replacing Garage Door Inserts

  1. Can You Replace Your Garage Door With A Window? 

You can replace your garage door with a window. Depending on the level of conversion you want to achieve, you may be required to replace the entire garage door. 

The type of material you will be using for the windows will also need to consider before replacement. It is good practice to plan and weigh your pros and cons in having a window as a garage door. 

  1. Is It Easy To Replace Your Garage Door Window Inserts? 

It is easy if you are using the insert replacement method. It means that you won’t need to remove the entire window unit. This method, where you remove the window, frames, and glass, is known as the full-frame replacement method. 

When using this method, the replacement method is more complicated and quite complex. The reason for this is that you will be destroying the window frame and placing a new one. It’s simply put, a new installation of the window. 

  1. Can You Remove The Garage Door Window Inserts?

Depending on the replacement, it is pretty easy to remove the garage door window inserts. If the window is broken, it’s a matter of just breaking off the remaining parts of the glass and preparing the replacement glass that will serve as the garage door’s new window insert. 

It is also a good idea to check if the remaining debris is stuck in the trim. It may hinder the replacement process, more so when you’re trying to slide the glass into place. 

If you want to replace the insert, remove the trim and take it out. 

Best Home Fixer

I love fixing up my own home and I set up this blog to help others do the same.

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