Stained Glass Restoration in Denver, Colorado
Stained Glass Repair & Restoration FAQ
Stained glass that is 80-100 years old is considered to be antique, and like all old things, in need of restoration. If you see an obvious defect such as cracks or chips, it needs restoration right away, no matter what the age. However, age is not the only determining factor for restoration. If a stained glass window has been broken and there are busted pieces of glass or if the window has been exposed to extreme climate conditions, it may require restoration sooner than normal.
A great way to check for defects or signs of damage is to conduct an inspection. Stand beneath the window from the inside of the building and look upward. Do you see loose putty, chips in the glass, or spaces between the steel bars where they’ve separated from the glass? Conduct the same inspection from the outside as well. You can also gently press against the glass. If it shifts or feels loose, then it’s a good sign that your windows need repair.
As we mentioned, chips and cracks compromise the strength of your window and need to be addressed right away. A building’s structure can also mean your stained glass windows will need repair; bowing or sagging of the window can cause the glass to become loose, to crack, or even to fall right out of the window. Less pressing problems that don’t compromise your window’s structural integrity but do mean you are in need of restoration are dullness or darkening of the lead and muted colors on the glass.
In places like Denver that are prone to experiencing severe weather conditions, warped leading is very common for stained glass. Sometimes this is due to flaws in the construction, such as placing a piece of plexiglass over the window without adding proper ventilation for heat to escape. Other times, it’s simply a result of exposure to the elements. Dirt and grime can easily build up on glass from rain, snow, or just with the passage of time, causing colored glass pieces to appear less vibrant and cloudy. In both cases, repair/restoration is necessary.
Church stained glass is usually assembled with strips of lead, called caming, to hold the glass in place. While durable, this lead is actually quite soft. Over time, gravity, wind, oxidation, and other effects can cause the lead to deteriorate, which then wreaks havoc on the structural integrity of the stained glass windows. The sooner you contact us, the greater the chance that your stained glass windows can be restored to their original beauty and luster and be reinstalled in a fashion that makes them stronger, more durable, and better protected from damage than they originally were.
During a restoration, it may be necessary to take apart the panel and reassemble it. For this, a blueprint of the original design is created using CAD software. The glass is soaked in cleansing solution, cleaned, and taken apart. Each piece is numbered according to position and this is reflected in the CAD design. The panel is carefully taken apart, the old lead is removed, and the broken glass is replaced. New leading and cement is used to piece the window back together. While every project is different, this is the general process we use for church stained glass repair.
The time for restoration depends on the age of the window and the scope of repair. We have specially developed a restoration and repair process that is efficient and restores your stained glass windows to their former beauty. This process can take anywhere from weeks to months in our studios because we do not rush such a delicate process. We can give you a better idea after we take a look at your glass for ourselves.
After you contact us, the next step is for us to give you a free consultation! This is so we can determine exactly what is needed to restore your stained glass. During this time, we will visit you on-site so we can inspect the glass in person. We need to know precisely what condition the glass is in so that we can create a plan for safely restoring the panel. This will also help us provide you with a better estimate for your project.
Once you accept our quote, we will take the windows to our studio, where we soak the glass in a special solution to remove accumulated grime, old cement, etc. Although fragile, stained glass is not a substance that is badly affected by gravity or oxidation like the lead is, so it will be restored to its original transparency and luster. Then the glass panels are disassembled piece by piece and rebuilt using brand new lead strips. The new lead will look the same but will be reinforced on the inside to add much needed strength. Next, we reinstall the stained glass windows, doors, ceilings, or other panels to your church, using our special installation techniques, leaving your windows more beautiful than they have been in decades!