We replaced ten basement windows with these Redi2set pre assembled glass block window panels, pictured below. You save the hardship of laying individual blocks when installing these eight block pre-formed units. Major time saver.
We’ve included pictures we took throughout the project, and peppered tips and insights among them that we learned along the way, about how to perform a quality installation of these glass block windows. Enjoy.
Tools and Supplies You Will Need
Shims. You’ll need lots of wooden shims to correctly position and level the windows in the wall window ports. As the shims are wedge shaped, it’s easy to correctly level the new window on them. When placed on the bottom, the window can be raised slightly by driving in the shim a bit further. It can be lowered by pulling the shim out a little. In the pictures below, we demonstrate how to use these shims to properly position each glass block window prior to applying the mortar.
Chisels. You’ll also need a set of chisels of various blade sizes, from a quarter inch up to two inch widths. Use these to chisel out any stubborn mortar that holds the old windows in place. However, be careful not to chisel too deep, lest you damage the cinder blocks that comprise the surrounding wall.
A buddy. Glass block windows are heavy and unwieldy. This can make them difficult to lift into position and position properly by yourself. So, we recommend that you have a friend available to help with the lifting.
A stepladder. We used a three-step stepladder when lifting our glass block windows into place, as basement window ports tend to be several feet off the floor. Hard to reach the window ports located near the basement ceiling without the ladder.
Mortar and gravel. They make fine-grain mortar that matched our white basement walls.
A paint stirrer. A paint stirrer or any long, thin piece of wood would do, used to push the soft mortar deep into the spaces between the glass block window and the surrounding brick wall.
Pry bars of various sizes (also known as crowbars). Use pry bars to pry out the old window frames, before installing the new glass block panels. You may need sizes ranging from foot-long pry bars to three foot lengths, depending on how strongly your old frames have been cemented in.
A can of cement sealant. Choose a transparent one, or one that won’t change appreciably the color of the mortar you’ve selected. Seal all mortar joints surrounding your new windows after installation, to help keep it strong for decades to come.
Basement Window One Replacement
A little scared to begin, as we had never replaced a basement window before. So we spent some minutes just staring at this, the first one to remove, for several minutes before starting. This inspection and some reading and talking with in-laws revealed that the old windows, made of easily bent metal, were simply cemented into place. In our case, they were sixty-five years old. So the mortar holding them fell away with very little effort, once we started pulling on the old metal window frames.
We first removed the glass and metal window assembly from the frame, as shown in the top area of the next picture. Then, we chiseled out the surrounding metal frame. The metal strip pieces shown in the bottom half of the next picture were the frame. However getting them out required that we bend them up quite a bit. No problem though, as these would not be used in the new window installation.
Basement Window Two Replacement
Basement Window Three Replacement
The next four windows were located on the north side of our home.
Basement Window Four Replacement
Notice that with this window, we began writing the window number underneath each replacement window target. Helps with matching the roll of pictures up with the windows to which they apply.
Particularly hard removing the old metal frame for this window. Had to apply lots of back grease (whole body effort) to pry it out of the cement with a crowbar. Unfortunately, we marked up some of the cinder block corner on the right side of the new window. So we learned that if you must push on the crowbar with more than a few pounds of force, be sure to place an old scrap piece of wood underneath the crowbar neck, to keep it from pressing directly on the cement blocks surrounding the window.
On this side of the house, there were thick shrubs growing on the outside of the replacement window locations. So, pictures of most of the glass block windows from the house exterior could not be taken. However, below, we did get one or two from outside of window 10.
Had to be careful while excising the rusted frame for window 4, not to break the PVC water pipe feeding our water heater, shown near the top of the next picture.
Basement Window Five Replacement
Fortunately, most of the work for this window could be accomplished from inside the basement, as our central air conditioning compressor was located just outside window 5, as shown next.
As mentioned, we slightly damaged the surrounding cinder block on some of the windows. However, we were able to repair those nicks with a bit of the white mortar used for setting the new glass block window units. We applied it with a right-angle trowel, and once dry, we covered it with a little basement wall white paint. Easy to fix, although we suggest avoiding that problem in the first place, by being careful how your pry the old windows out.
Basement Window Six Replacement
Window six presented its own set of unique issues. First, we had to work around the big blue well pressure tank, shown in the lower right corner of the next picture. Plus, on the exterior of the house, the trunk of a tall arborvitae bush hindered access. But as long as you don’t mind getting a little dirty and cold while working outside, and having to do some leaning over a water tank when installing the window inside, projects like this should go off without incident, although perhaps not too easily.
Basement Window Seven Replacement
The rest of the replacement windows were installed on the south side of the house. These first two went in quite easily, as outside, was an empty patio without any plants or other obstructions in front of windows seven and eight. A wooden porch covered the last two, including the block window with the dryer vent port.
Basement Window Eight Replacement
Basement Window Nine Replacement
Basement Window Ten Replacement
This window includes a dryer vent opening. Make sure when installing this special window that you have enough clearance on the outside, for the vent, and that nothing within a couple feet of the opening is impeding air flow out of the vent.
Below is the new glass block window with built-in dryer vent.
Patch up the walls and window sills. As mentioned above, during installation, we broke a few small pieces out of the bricks in the wall a bit, while prying out the old windows. Cleanup time is the time to repair these small imperfections, which we did as shown in the window 9 pictures above. Then, after all windows were done, we went around patching any dents around the other windows. Finally, after all mortar dried, we applied a bit of basement white paint around the inside of the glass block windows.
Haul away the old windows, frames, and other debris. We loaded up all the waste and debris from this project into the back of a pickup truck, and took it to the local dump.
Seal the mortar, once it hardens. Several days after you’ve completed cementing the glass block panels in place, we suggest that you apply a cement sealant to all new mortar surfaces around the windows, particularly on the outside side; the side exposed to the elements.
- Glass block, a Good Choice for Basement Windows from The Weekly Fix
- How to Install a Glass Block Window from DoItYourself.com
- How to Install Glass Block Windows, with Pictures from WikiHow
- 2018-01-21: Originally published.