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This question is similar to another one already on SE but this one focuses on the task as a repair issue rather than as a remodeling one.

How can I cheaply and easily (I am a layperson) create a stable, opaque "replacement" for a broken glass pane in a(n inside) door?: Painting over glass is stupid

Apparently one of the doors in my flat is partially made of glass and someone (either the previous owner or the renovators-- the house management of course denies that it could be the renovators' fault) decided to simply paint over them in order to make them "unglass". The glass plate itself seems to be 2mm thick and the cutout in which the plate sits is about 2cm deep (measuring both sides).

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    Is replacing with glass and then painting not an option? I can't think of anything else that will be as thin, smooth, and strong as glass or plexiglass. – JPhi1618 Feb 4 '16 at 15:45
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    It has to be neither thin nor smooth: It just has to be opaque and not break into skin-cutting shards when too much pressure is applied to it. – errantlinguist Feb 4 '16 at 16:02
  • Replace it with thin plywood. – DA01 Feb 4 '16 at 16:28
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The molding that holds the glass in place probably is held in place with small nails. Just gently pry up the molding with a wide (1" or even wider) wood chisel or screwdriver. Try not to dent the molding so you can reuse it. The wider the tip of the tool you use to pry it up, the less likely it is that you will damage the molding. Remove the old glass and replace w new glass or plastic. G'luck.

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    Note that (normally) the molding is only on one side; the other side is shaped so that it looks the same, but is fixed in place. Make sure you are on the right side before you start prying. Also, you should pry away from the door frame, not up from the glass. (!!) – GalacticCowboy Feb 4 '16 at 17:46
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    @GalacticCowboy Like this video? youtube.com/watch?v=u6FHjnmDjKQ – Yehuda_NYC Mar 16 '16 at 0:02
  • Exactly. If the glass is out of the frame it makes your job a little easier. I'm also a little surprised that the molding is on the exterior, though this could be an example where it's a squared opening and molding on both sides. – GalacticCowboy Mar 16 '16 at 0:22
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As @jphi618 indicates in his comment, glass or sheet acrylic would be thin, fairly strong and fairly cheap, then painted to match the door. There is also sheet steel, which would be much heavier and expensive, but similar in thickness.

There are other materials, such as sheet MDF and plywood that are available in 1/4 inch thickness and hardboard that is available in 1/8 inch thickness. These are all thicker than standard window pane glass, but the glass in your door may well be double thickness, which is around 1/8 inch.

Plywood and MDF are fairly easily cut with power tools, as is hardboard, but the latter is tougher. All of them can be painted.

If you use something other than glass of the same thickness, you probably want to adjust the moldings to accommodate the additional thickness. You also may want to replace the other panel so they look similar. This also eliminates the chance of the other panel breaking.

The danger of painted glass, especially if it is not thicker than window pane, is the risk that people push on it believing it is wood or some other non-fragile material. People tend not to push on unpainted glass unless it is obviously very thick.

  • 1/8 hardboard unless you want to go over the top and use 1/8" (or less, it does come thinner) aircraft-type birch plywood ($$$) - other option would be to have a woodworker make two proper wood "raised panels" like the other ones in the door - thin on edges, thicker in the middle and replace both glass panes. – Ecnerwal Feb 4 '16 at 16:41
  • for reference: 1/8 inch is 3.175mm, indeed a little thicker than the OP's estimation of the glass. 1/16 inch is 1.59mm. In countries that use metric system, plywood and MDF are commonly available in 2mm. Which is about 5/64 inch. – njzk2 Feb 4 '16 at 20:18
  • I indeed ended up using 5mm MDF (which incidentally is nearly exactly 1/8"), which actually fit quite nicely into the existing frame (albeit with a bit of persuasion since the frame itself is no longer a perfect rectangle...). – errantlinguist Mar 14 '16 at 19:41
  • This answer really helped a lot, but, since the other answer explicitly explained how to get the broken pane out of the door, I ended up choosing it as "the answer"; It's really too bad that you can't accept multiple answers... – errantlinguist Mar 14 '16 at 19:44

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