Did you know that the glass industry in the United States alone ships 21 million metric tons of glass each year? Container glass accounts for over half of that (12 million tons). Flat glass, such as those used in windows and tabletops, accounts for about a fifth.
With so much glass produced, it’s no wonder folks in the US also throw about 10 million metric tons of glass each year.
The thing is, many disposed of glass products are still repairable.
That’s right: there are a few ways to fix broken glass items before throwing them out.
To that end, we created this guide detailing a couple of easy broken glass repair methods. Read on to discover what they are and when to use them, as they may help you reduce your glass waste.
You most likely know cyanoacrylate adhesives by their nickname superglue. The “super” there refers to how these glues bond to almost everything, including glass.
Superglues consist of acrylic resins, which is why they are transparent. That makes them ideal for repairing see-through, colored, stained, or tinted glass.
All in all, superglue can be effective for fixing broken glass, so long as the cracks, chips, or breaks are small. You can use it to repair single-pane glass, picture frame glass, and some kitchen glassware.
Before you start the repairs, though, be sure to don safety gloves to prevent cutting yourself. It’s imperative to use safety goggles, too, to protect your eyes from accidents with glue and glass. Keep in mind that about 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the US each year, and you don’t want to be part of that statistic.
Once you have your safety gear in place, you can then proceed with the following steps.
Clean the Broken Glass Pieces
Use soap and water to clean the broken glass pieces and the glass product itself. Next, use a microfiber cloth to dry them, especially the sections where you’ll apply the glue. Then, reassemble the pieces (don’t glue them yet!) to ensure you’re not missing any.
Apply the Superglue
Apply a small amount of glue along the sides of the smaller broken pieces. Avoid putting too much superglue, as this will only prolong curing times. However, be sure to cover the entire edge to ensure that all areas will stick.
Next, press the smaller and the main pieces together, ensuring they align with each other. Apply a bit of pressure and maintain this position for at least one minute. Then, follow the same steps for the remaining pieces.
If there’s a tiny missing piece of glass that you can no longer find, you can fill the gap it leaves with some glue. This workaround may not be noticeable at all unless you’re fixing colored or tinted glass.
Let the Superglue Set
Once you’ve glued all the pieces together, allow the adhesive to set. Check the label on the superglue to find out the curing time; it may take only minutes, but others may take up to 24 hours. To be sure, it’s best to leave the repaired item alone for at least one day.
Remove Excess Glue with Razor
Check the glass to see if excess glue oozed out while you wait for the superglue to set. If there is, you can carefully remove it with a razor blade. You can then wipe the area clean with a microfiber cloth.
Polish the Fixed Glass with a Glass Cleaner
Once the superglue has cured completely, you can buff up the repaired piece with a glass cleaner. Be careful when wiping and polishing the item, though, as too much pressure can make it crack again.
Also, remember that even though you’ve fixed it, the glass may now be more susceptible to pressure. So, handle the repaired glass item with even more care.
Epoxy consists of two parts, one being a resin, the other being a hardener. When mixed, these two trigger a reaction called polymerization. It’s a type of chemical bond that occurs at a molecular level.
Because of that molecular bond, epoxy is best for affixing bigger pieces of broken glass. These include a cracked or broken glass window, table glass, or glass tiles.
Note that epoxy isn’t a good repair method for multi-paned windows, though. So, if you have a crack on a double- or triple-paned window, your best bet is to call a window replacement or repair expert. They can help you determine if your broken window is salvageable or if it needs new glass.
Other than multi-layered glass, you can try using epoxy to patch up other broken glass items. The preparation steps, including cleaning and drying, are similar to those of superglue. The main difference lies in the application process.
Mix the Epoxy
Most two-part epoxy resins require you to mix the resin and hardener for about 20 to 30 seconds. The specific mixing time depends on the brand, so be sure to check the label for directions. Once completely mixed, apply the epoxy to the glass right away; otherwise, it will harden.
Apply the Mix
Secure separated glass pieces (i.e., a glass tile split into two) by pressing them together. You may need a working partner to keep them in place as you apply the epoxy.
Use a putty knife to help ensure even application of the epoxy resin. Apply gentle pressure while scraping the putty back and forth to work the resin into the crack.
Scrape off Excess Resin and Let Set
As with superglue, you can remove excess epoxy resin with a razor blade and clean the area. After this, you usually need to let the epoxy cure for about 24 hours. Once fully set, you can polish the repaired glass with glass cleaner, too.
Try to Fix Broken Glass before Disposing of It
Granted, glass is 100% recyclable, but only about 4% to 5% of glass waste in the US gets recycled. Another 5% ends up in landfills, while many go unaccounted for.
That’s why you should try to fix broken glass items first before you put them in the waste bin. That way, you can reduce your household’s total waste production. Besides, if you’re successful, you don’t have to buy new products which would cost you far more.
Interested in more how-to guides like this? Feel free to have a look at our other recent blog posts, then!