Anatomy of a Stained Glass Window Restoration

Lobby Restoration at the Boulderado Hotel

Our clients are delighted when we tell them that our custom stained glass windows will last for generations, and probably become much loved family heirlooms over time. And in fact, time doesn’t cause glass to deteriorate to any significant degree, (okay, perhaps over thousands of years!) but of course anything can happen over the years that might chip, break or even shatter it completely. That is one of the reasons we’ve developed our special stained glass installation methods, where we will place the stained glass panel on the inside of an existing pane of glass.

How Stained Glass Restoration Can Save Your Windows

Stained Glass Window RestorationHowever, the lead strips which are generally used to hold the individual pieces of glass together can and does deteriorate. These strips are called “caming,” and can be made out of lead, brass, or even copper—the preferred metal used by the famed glass designer, Tiffany.

In the case of lead caming, the lead reacts with humidity or other weather conditions which cause oxidation, and over time the metal becomes brittle, losing any flexibility and making it ineffective at its primary job—holding the stained glass pattern together. The good news is that this doesn’t happen right away, it can take anywhere from 60 years to double that length of time.

By the time the lead does need to be replaced in a stained glass window—that window is usually an antique, with great value. It is usually worth it to do a full restoration of that piece, and here at Scottish Stained Glass, we take restoration of antique stained glass very seriously. We are honored to restore the pieces created by the stained glass masters who came before.

Whether an antique stained glass panel has been broken due to the elements, or is in danger of breaking because the lead has deteriorated over the passage of time, restoration involves taking the entire panel apart. Each piece of glass must be removed, and if they have been broken or are missing, we do our best to match the exact color or texture. Of course, in many cases the type of glass that was used is not even produced any more, but our restoration experts know exactly what glass to use so that no one would ever know it’s been replaced.

Stained Glass Restoration Experts Make All the Difference

The glass pieces are cleaned and polished, and then reassembled into the exact same pattern with brand new lead caming. If it sounds like a time consuming process, it is. However, once the restoration is finished, the panel is restored to its former glory and if installed behind another pane of clear glass, it will last at least another 100 years and probably much more.

The largest restoration we’ve done to date was the famous stained glass lobby ceiling in the Boulderado Hotel, which took us approximately six to seven months to complete.

If you have a stained glass piece that needs restoration work, how do you know whether it’s worth the money and effort? Perhaps you’d be better off if we simply made a new piece, with the same pattern and design as the older one? The fact is that restoration of an antique is much more costly than commissioning a brand new window. And yet, after a good, high quality restoration job, that original window would be 2 to 3 times more valuable than the new one.

How do you decide? Contact us for a free consultation about a stained glass window restoration.

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