How to Add a Glass Pane to a Wood Door

Next in #ShutTheFrontDoorDIY — learn to add a glass pane to a wood door! Yesterday Yvonne shared how to build a door from scratch with a frosted glass pane, but if you have an existing door and just want some light, today’s tutorial from Charlotte will walk you through the process (just like she did for making your own floor pouf). And don’t forget to come link up your door-related projects here, plus tell us a knock-knock joke for a chance to win $25!

Adding a glass pane to an old wood door, DIY tutorial

 How to Add a Glass Pane to a Wood Door
by Charlotte from Ciburbanity

Hi, Remodelaholic readers! I’m Charlotte from Ciburbanity (city+suburb+sanity) and am SO excited to be talking doors with you. (Don’t worry… I’ll make this a super exciting door talk.) Three years ago we left behind the dusty streets of New York City, and my family up and went suburban. Ciburbanity was born as a way to write about life (which basically means my lack of a social life), kids (four under the age of 6), our house, and anything else (read: crafts + design) that crosses my diaper and thrifty filled brain. If it’s colorful or quirky, I want it… if it has a red clearance sticker, I want it… if it’s a little weird or unexpected, I want it. My design style is frugal repurposed eclectic (look it up, it’s probably a thing), and I may or may not have 8 chairs, 3 coffee tables, and a dresser in my garage.

How to Create a Glass Panel Door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

This door was part of the downstairs powder room I remodeled last summer. Other projects I’m in love with are this ombre file cabinet that you might have seen on the last page of March’s I Did It in Better Homes and Gardens and our Kitchen Command Center.

We live in an old house. And old houses come with a history… sometimes good, sometimes bad. Well, there is one little downstairs powder room that falls into the baaaaad category. It opens up into the formal dining room and is about the size of a large armoire. Oh… and did I mention there’s no natural light. Zero. Zilch. It’s not a powder room for the claustrophobic. Here’s how it used to look…(I added the wallpaper and a new sconce which helped, but still…. oh, and that’s an example of how all the other doors in the house- gorgeous and not hollow.)

Adding Glass to Panel Door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

Last summer, I got the itch to finally tackle this dark and cramped space. The inside was cosmetic… new wall treatment, board and baton, refinish the sink and vanity, new tiles, some paint and a new toilet. But the bigger challenge I had was brightening up the space. I love the idea of architectural salvage but it doesn’t always fit into existing plans. My pipe dream was to replace the solid hollow door with something that echoed the architecture around the house a bit more. All the doors in our home are beautiful old paneled doors…which got me thinking…. what if I found an old paneled door and was able to replace one of the panels with a clouded glass. It would provide privacy AND allow for some light to make it’s way into the powder room cave.

Add light to a small bathroom with a glass panel door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

I googled around and realized that replacing a wood-paneled door with glass panels was do-able. Off to the salvage yard I went. Here’s where I’ll throw in a word of caution. Doors are not things to measure by the inch. They are things to measure by the MILLIMETER. Every little iota counts. What I assumed to be standard was ‘close enough’ but… close enough meant some extra leg work on my end of things. Like I said… be prepared.

I found a gorgeous paneled door for $75 and brought her home with me.

Add glass panel to reclaimed door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

Paneled doors are made in one of two ways. Either it’s a separate panel held in place by the trim on either side OR the two sides of the door are routed and then build around the panels. The only way to know is to score along the edge to release any caulk and then pry a little to see if it’s trim or solid routed wood.

How to add a glass panel to a reclaimed door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

You can see the edging actually cracked away from the wood above so My edges were one solid piece of wood (that’s the trim area cracking above) so I had to use my Dremel to actually cut the panel out.

Add natural light to a small bathroom with a glass panel door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

I then cut away one side of the trim. The glass will rest on the remaining edge, and new molding will get caulked and nailed in place to secure it.

How to add natural light with a glass panel door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

How to add natural light by creating a glass panel door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

We have a local glass place who worked with me on this and sourced EXACTLY the type of glass I was looking for: think vintage high school gymnasium. The glass has that chicken wire insert with the frosted surface. Bingo. The newly cut glass was placed on top of the molding, putty was applied and the new trim was carefully nailed in place. I bought the vinyl ladies/mens room label to add a touch of whimsy.

How to Create a Glass Panel Door for Your Powder Room by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

Some sanding and some painting and the door was good as new!

Here’s where the measuring comes into play. The hinges of the new door were in a different place than the hinges of the old door. I had the choice of either replacing the door frame and recutting the recess for the hinges (nope… not an option) or using Bondo to fill in the old hinge cut out… this was a MUCH more palatable option in my opinion. It was much easier to replace the old hinge placement on the door than worrying about the door frame itself, so I first measured and cut out the new hinge indentation using my Dremel. Then… I went back with some Bondo and filled in the old hinge indentation. It’s not quite as neat and tidy as I would have liked, but once I sanded and painted, you don’t notice.

How to DIY a Glass Panel Door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

Replacing a Wood Panel with Glass by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

I also learned that the new door is slightly thicker than the old door… so I had to shave off a bit of the door edge in order for it to close tightly.

How to Reclaim and Old Wood Door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

I was able to replace the old doorknob with an old glass one I had in my stash. Rather than spend another few hours lining up the new latch with the old hole on the door frame, I just screwed in a hook and eye and called it a day.

Reclaim an Old Wood Door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

How to Replace a Wood Panel with Glass by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

All in, this door cost me *maybe* $100. But that includes paint, hinges, sandpaper. I received the glass for free in exchange for some web design work I did, so that might have added another $100 because of the specialized glass I chose. It did take quite a while (a couple of afternoons?), but… this was my first door project so I’m sure I made some rookie mistakes… next time, it will be much easier. Regardless, I’d say doors are fussy so there will be some tweaking that will happen no matter how adept you are! The powder room is much improved for a million reasons, but… having some natural light in there is truly a half a million of those reasons!
Update a Dark Bathroom with Glass Panel Door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic

Lighten a Dark Bathroom with a DIY Glass Panel Door by Ciburbanity featured on @Remodelaholic


Thanks so much for visiting our site again, Charlotte!

Remodelaholics, head over to Ciburbanity to see more from Charlotte — like her gorgeous headboard and the amazing work she’s doing on this restaurant redesign!


Coming up in #ShutTheFrontDoorDIY:

(be sure to subscribe by RSS or email to get updates for every post of Shut The Front Door DIY week)

Front Door Paint Colors @Remodelaholic

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. I LOVE what you did, and I’m thinking of doing something similar for my laundry-room door. My only question is why didn’t you use the door that was already on the bathroom? It had panels. Could you have used that door instead of buying a new/old one?


  2. Can one do this whilst door is still mounted & vertical? What’s best tools… the same?
    Our door is trouble to get in/out.

  3. OMG !!!! YOUR TIPS ON HOW TO ADD A GLASS PANE TO A WOOD DOOR were exactly what I needed.
    Weeks ago I started my project and it was a diffucult, annoying job until I spotted your website. You’ve answered all my questions.
    I’ll email a picture once the whole thing is done.
    Thanks !!!!
    Ingrid, 75, retired nurse in Canada

  4. Some years back i did the same to a pair of doors to a bathroom. Only, I took it to a carpenter and had him do the work and then the glass company placed the foggy glass. I am about to do the same on my newer120 year old farmhouse and I am so glad to find this post, because I can do it myself. Thank you so much!

  5. I have a plain bath door and would like to cut out a square and place frosted glass. Is it wise to purchase the tempered frosted glass first? The door I have is original from when place was built 60 to 70 years ago. It’s plain no panels. I prefer to not remove the door. All I need is maybe a rectangle 18″ X 24″ or something like that. PSmy website is not related to my home remodeling projects. Thanks.