Church Stained Glass Restoration & Repair
Many Houston area churches are known for their stunning stained glass windows, windows that offer inspiration and upliftment to all who see them. Along with churches in Houston and across Texas, stained glass church windows became extremely sought after around the beginning of the twentieth century.
If you do the math, you’ll realize that many of these stained glass masterpieces are now nearing or passing the century mark. And it’s possible that over the years, they have been damaged, or have deteriorated in some way. If a piece of church stained glass requires either repair or full restoration, please attend to it as quickly as possible, before the problems get worse.
When it comes to church stained glass repair in Houston, we are your experts with over two decades of repair experience. A window or other stained glass panel might need repair if one or more pieces of the glass have chipped, cracked, or fallen out entirely. For this process, we remove the window to our studio, and work from the closest edge in, only disassembling as much as we must to reach and replace the damaged glass.
However, a full church stained glass restoration is another thing entirely. This can become necessary for several different reasons.
1. A sheet of plexiglass was added to the exterior of the stained glass, to protect the windows from vandalism or from the elements. This is a mistake because the plexiglass causes a heat buildup between it and the stained glass that damages the lead strips over time. Once damaged, these strips no longer hold the window in the proper structural integrity.
2. The actual weight of the window and the pull of gravity over the years has caused the window to bow or sag or even buckle. This puts tremendous stress on the glass and can cause it to crack, shatter, or drop right out of the window, which is an obvious safety hazard.
3. The damaged lead strips can become brittle or bent and no longer form a good seal with the glass they are supposed to be holding together.
With this type of situation, a full restoration is called for. We will again bring the window to our studio, but it will be fully disassembled in order to add brand new, reinforced lead strips that will provide greater strength and durability for the reinstalled window. We also soak the glass in a special cleaning solution, replace any missing or damaged pieces of glass with matching glass from one of our high-quality suppliers (this can be custom ordered if necessary to match the existing antique glass) and polish the reassembled piece to a fine luster.
We will also reinstall the church stained glass window with appropriate safeguards, considering its weight. This might include steel supports into the frame, and definitely includes two clear panes of glass on the outside of the stained glass. They protect the newly refurbished stained glass and add to the window’s overall thermal efficiency.
To learn more about religious stained glass restoration, read our comprehensive, essential guide:
Custom Stained Glass Houston Can Help You Restore the Natural Beauty of Your Stained Glass Windows
Here at Custom Stained Glass Houston, we consider it our duty to help keep stained glass preserved for the next generation. Beyond being a rich piece of US history, it is an art form unlike any other and therefore deserves to be kept in good repair. Throughout the years we have amassed a copious knowledge in the techniques needed to bring these once beautiful stained windows back to their former glory. As keepers of these beautiful pieces of art, we work hard at our job which is preserving stained glass for the next generations to enjoy.
Stained Glass Restoration due to Deterioration of Lead
The actual glass on stained glass windows does not usually deteriorate significantly over time, but, the lead, which holds the piece together, definitely does. The lead will be affected both by air and moisture, eventually becoming very brittle. This process can take 60 to 120 years depending on the environment in which the glass sits and standard of care. So, when these windows begin to deteriorate they could very well be antiques, making them worth the time and effort of restoration by virtue of their age. Beyond that is their artistic contribution to society which we believe to be invaluable.
Hail Damage to Stained Glass
Hail is possibly the most devastating damage to stained glass because it cracks and breaks the glass and often means the entire window will need to be rebuilt. Here at Custom Stained Glass Houston we remove the panels, match up the glass and re-lead each piece before re-installing them. After the stained glass restoration, we will install additional protective measures, using nearly unbreakable glass on the exterior of your church to prevent hail damage from happening again.
Wind Damage to Stained Glass
In older homes and churches stained glass is often built into the building. If these windows are original and are not protected from the elements, the lead can actually be stretched by the wind. When lead stretches it looks bowed or concave in appearance. This is not good for the life or look of the stained glass and if left for too long this will eventually lead to glass pieces falling out or cracking. The way to deal with this issue is to remove the stained glass and restore it by:
- Flattening it back
- Carefully removing all the glass pieces and re-leading the panel
Re-Leading to Restore Stained Glass
Re-leading stained glass is the most widely used restoration process and is incredibly effective. This is because new lead additives mean the lead on the stained glass window could potentially last another 200 years before needing restoration. Re-leading involves taking the pieces apart one by one and removing the old lead. After this, the glass pieces are cleaned put back into the panels using new lead which wraps around each glass piece as it was before. The effect from this is a bright, bold and lustrous new look to your stained glass window after the process. You can expect a long life after a restoration of the lead of your stained glass–100 if not 200 years.
Preserving the Value of Stained Glass
When deciding whether your stained glass needs to be restored, it is critical to remember that one the glass starts to break the process becomes more difficult and expensive. In order to preserve the additional monetary value, at this point, an expert restorer, like us at Custom Stained Glass Houston, is needed. This is because the glass colors and textures must be matched precisely to the originals–which is not always an easy task when dealing with 100-year-old glass. At Custom Stained Glass Houston we have restored thousands of pieces of vintage stained glass and know how to use both traditional and modern techniques to do so. All of which will keep your stained glass windows value intact.
Restoration Versus New Stained Glass?
Many of our clients ask us whether it may be a good idea to scrap the old windows and simply have new ones created. While this is a personal issue that only your church body can make–we do encourage attempting to keep your vintage church stained glass. This is because you are not only preserving a window but a piece of history and art. Restoration, if done properly, will often cost more than a new piece but in terms of value, a restored panel will likely have a value of 2 or 3 times that of something new.
Free Advice and Valuations of Your Stained Glass
At Custom Stained Glass Houston we consider ourselves experts are happy to offer free advice and valuations of your stained glass before and after restoration. Feel free to reach out and email us photos we can ever do some rough calculations online.