Complete Guide to Window Glass Replacement

Before your house window glass replacement project, it makes sense to understand your options and costs. For a more generic guide on window replacement, don’t forget to check out our comprehensive window replacement buying guide.

window glass repair and replacement

This page includes:

  • New window glass options including panes, gas fills, coatings, treatments and climate-specific glass.
  • The cost of replacement glass in house windows.
  • Tips for choosing the right glass for your windows.

Your Glass Pane Options – Single, Double and Triple Glazing

The glass in your windows is referred to as glazing by window contractors. It’s the glass itself, not a coating.

For most windows, replacement glass is made up of the same number of panes. If you have a choice for new glass, here are the options for number of windowpanes and the pros and cons for each.

Single vs double glazed windows

Single Pane – The cost is the most affordable, but that is the only advantage. Single-pane windows have little insulation value, so they are not at all energy efficient. And they do a poor job of preventing sound transmission. For these reasons, single pane replacement glass is a poor choice for your home’s windows.

Two Panes – This is the industry standard. Two pane glass is commonly called insulated glass or an IGU, insulated glass unit.

Double glazing allows for an inner and outer glass pane separated by a small space which is filled with air in standard insulated windows or a heavy gas like Argon to improve the insulation value.

Three Panes – Triple-pane glass is usually only chosen in extremely cold climates or when the window faces a busy street. Yes, they insulate the best, and they reduce noise transmission better. They are also the most expensive.

Double Pane vs Triple Pane Glass

double and triple glazing

Is triple pane better than double pane?

No, not for most uses.

Double pane glass is the most cost-effective for any climate. It has good insulation value and is reasonably affordable.

While triple pane glass offers slightly lower energy bills than two panes, it is much more expensive and probably not worth the extra money.

What is the advantage of triple pane glass?

Triple pane glass makes the most sense when you want to reduce noise transmission on the street side of your home or in bedrooms.

Should you consider low-e glass?

This is low-emissivity glass. Most insulated windows are coated with a very thin, transparent metallic layer that helps reflect UV and infrared light and heat away from your home, which prevents heat penetration in winter.

Also called low thermal emissivity glass, it can be coated on the inner side to keep warmth inside your home in winter.

While glass without the coating is available, the coating is quite affordable and pays for itself quickly through improved energy efficiency for your home. Selecting low-e glass is a good choice for replacement window glass.

The Right Replacement Window Glass for Your Climate

There’s more to Energy Star certified glass than a low-e coating.

Stormy climate

When you purchase new windows from major brands, you’re given options for glass packages – or glazing – designed specifically for your region of the country. According to Pella’s Taeya De Vries, “No matter which area of the country you live in, you can choose energy-efficient window options that are best suited for your home.”

The same can be true when you choose a glass home windows glass replacement company with a good selection of products.

USA region map

Cold North and Northeast Regions

The best replacement glass often has a thinner reflective coating on the outside of the glass. Why? Because homes in cold climates benefit from sun and heat penetration in cold months. Dual pane or triple pane replacement glass is best, especially when filled between panes with a heavy gas like Argon.

Cool and Wet Northeast & Midwest

Homes in rainy climates benefit from keeping warmth indoors. Glass with thicker coatings do that. Plus, they usually have Argon between the panes, whether using two or three windowpanes.

The Midwest gets a range of weather. Standard low-e glass with thicker coatings provide the best all-around insulation for the various seasons.

Hot, Sunny Climates

When hot sun can quickly warm up the inside of your home, glass with a thicker reflective coating is the best choice. This glass type is often called advanced low-e glass or something similar.

Replacement glass for sunny climates keeps out the sun’s heat, so that your central air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard. The result is a more comfortable home and lower energy bills.

Coastal Regions

Is your home in a high velocity hurricane zone, or HVHZ? Do tropical storms threaten to cause damage from high winds and wind-blown debris?

If the answer is yes, an impact-resistant glass is the right choice. In fact, you might already have hurricane rated impact windows.

Most of this window replacement glass has a polymer or plastic layer embedded in the glass to prevent shattering. And it is hardened to prevent breaking at all.

High Altitudes

High altitude glass is dual pane glass that is vented to prevent over-pressurization. If it is insulated glass with Argon, the internal pressure is kept lower.

The Cost of Window Glass Replacement

This table shows the cost of glass replacement for home windows based on number of panes using standard low-e glass.

Glass Replacement – # of Panes Installed Cost per Window (Ave. 36″x48″)
Single Pane $190 – $325
Two Panes $260 – $485
Three Panes $310 – $565
Get Prices and Installation Quotes from Local Pro’s

Window type, number of sashes and site factors affect the specific cost. Additional window repairs made at the time of glass replacement will add cost to the project.

This table shows the cost per pane of extra coatings and treatments.

Extra / Treatment Installed Cost per Window (Ave. 36″x48″)
Tinted $25 – $60
Obscured or Frosted $40 – $85
Tempered $95 – $175
Sound Reduction – STC $60 – $125
Laminated / Impact-resistant $120 – $215

Should You Choose Replacement or New? – Glass Replacement vs New Windows Cost

The cost to replace just the glass is 15% to 30% of the price of new windows.

For example, it makes more sense to replace just the glass in fine wood windows that cost $2,300 to $3,500 each to replace. That’s true as long as the frames and hardware are in good condition.

But if your windows are older vinyl windows, and new vinyl windows cost $700 to $1,000 each, then consider getting an estimate for window replacement alongside estimates for replacing just the glass.

Exploring Your Replacement Glass Treatment Options

Here are a few other replacement glass types you might want for specific windows in your home.

Tinted: Glass tint options include gray, light green, bronze and a few others. Tinted glass offers reduces sun exposure in rooms that get direct sunlight. And it provides a little more privacy.

Obscure: Ideal for the bathroom, obscure or obscured glass comes in many styles to fit your décor.

Tempered: This is safety glass that is very strong. If you have ground floor windows that you believe are susceptible to break-ins, or if the kids play ball outside that window, it makes sense to choose.

STC: Sound Transmission Class (STC) glass is thicker than normal panes and does a better job blocking out unwanted noise from the street. If you’re a light sleeper, it might be a benefit in your bedroom or a child’s nursery.

Laminated and Impact-resistant: This is the glass with a polymer layer sandwiched between layers of glass. Ideal for coastal regions, it is also chosen wherever additional strength and security is desired.

Read More of Our Window Buying Guides

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