Every time you move a piece of glass, you risk breaking it. Because picture and clerestory windows, mirrors, and shower doors are often custom items, they take time to remake if they get broken. Smart, safe, and slow are the key words for moving and installing glass, whether you do it yourself or are keeping an eye on a new sub. Here are a few things to keep in mind when moving, staging, storing, and installing glass.


Plan the route. Know exactly how you're getting the glass from the truck to the installation point. Check door heights, and clear the path of all debris. Map out turns, and lay wood blocks anywhere the glass might be set down; under no circumstances should a piece of glass touch the ground.

Move methodically. Any time you see a glazier running or moving hastily, your spider senses should tingle. A good glazier is always one step ahead in his mind, mapping out the path of least resistance for the glass and preventing potential breakage situations before they occur.

Use the proper carrying technique. Glass can't support its own weight. Always carry it upright on edge like you would carry drywall or plywood. If the glass is heavy, use a suction cup for your lower hand; use your upper hand without a cup as a guide hand to maintain balance. Always wear gloves with rubber coated palms. If the path from the truck to the window is smooth, use a glass dolly.

Moving big glass up staging requires four workers: two to lift, two to receive.
Mark Clement Moving big glass up staging requires four workers: two to lift, two to receive.

Prepare for the high spots. When installing glass in a two-story foyer or other difficult-to-access area, glaziers will often set up their own pipe staging and move the glass up through the staging a half-section at a time. This is usually a four-person job: two to lift, two to receive.

Staging and storage

When a glazier removes a piece of glass from the truck, the first priority is to have a co-worker secure any pieces remaining on the truck. Anything left unsecured could fall victim to the wind and blow over.

If there is a safe place to store glass on site, store it on a wheeled A-frame cart or carts. Otherwise, it should stay in the truck. If the job is big enough to warrant it, arrange to keep the truck on site overnight.

In a replacement situation, the entire work area should be covered with drop cloths. Any old glass should be removed immediately from the building, not stored in the work area where it could stain something if dirty or fall over and break, risking injury from sharp edges. Also, watch out for and control children and pets, which are both curious and easily hurt.

Installation tips

* Before you move the glass, measure every piece and every opening to make sure they match.

* Clean the glass on both sides prior to gluing it to the frame or stops; cleaning it afterward can smear the adhesive.

Always carry glass upright.
Mark Clement Always carry glass upright.

* Use 25:1 caulk guns for spreading adhesive effectively.

* Use Neoprene spacer blocks anywhere a mirror touches a solid surface, like a backsplash. This creates an air gap and prevents the mirror from "de-silvering" or getting smoky over time.

* Do not use excess adhesive. --Mark Clement is senior editor of Hanley-Wood's Tools of the Trade and El Nuevo Constructor. This article first appeared in Tools of the Trade.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog.