Protecting and Prolonging the Life of Your Church’s Stained Glass Windows

August 23, 2012 - 3 minutes read

Window6If your church has stained glass windows you will no doubt be aware that while they may be beautiful, they are also very delicate and vulnerable to deterioration and damage. To help protect your windows and extend their lifespan you should have a preventative maintenance plan in place. In addition, you may also want to consider installing some form of physical protection, such as a wire-mesh guard or polycarbonate glazing.

How damage occurs

Stained glass windows and frames can be corroded or damaged by:

  • UV-rays from sunlight.
  • Extreme weather events.
  • Pollution and environmental factors.
  • Pests and vermin.
  • Dirt and windborne debris.
  • Accidental damage and vandalism.
  • Wood rot.

Window maintenance and protection

Your windows should be regularly cleaned with a special cleaning agent for stained glass and a soft cloth, and dry-wiped in between cleaning sessions. If you want to do a full deep clean this should be handled by a professional. Regular maintenance of the frames should also undertaken including cleaning, painting and repairs as required.

As well as regular maintenance, stained glass windows may require restoration, reconstruction or modification. A specialist stained glass conservationist should be contacted for advice on these matters.

To help protect and / or restore your windows there are a number of options, including:

  • Wire mesh – to provide protection against accidents and vandalism.
  • Polycarbonate glazing – a type of plastic used to cover glass, which may help prolong the life of stained-glass windows. It’s important to be aware that polycarbonate can degrade and scratch over time and may need to be replaced every few years.
  • Laminated glass – this contains an interlayer of PVB to prevent shattering by keeping the glass bonded when struck with objects.
  • Tempered glass – glass that is toughened through tempering with thermal or chemical treatments.
  • Float glass – a type of glass that is solidified on a surface of a higher-density liquid.

Any sort of protective coating for glass needs to fit with the style and shape of the windows. A venting system also needs to be installed to help prevent condensation and heat build-up between the protective layer and the glass.

When seeking a professional glass specialist for maintenance or restoration work, make sure that he or she is covered by liability insurance and is able to supply references. It’s also a good idea to get a number of quotes for different types of glazing or protection before commencing with the work.

Stained-glass windows are more than just windows – they are created through a specialist art form and are well-worth preserving. With regular cleaning and maintenance and the expert care of a professional contractor, your stained glass windows are more likely to be in place for future generations to admire and enjoy.

Read more posts on property protection for churches here.

Written by Tess Oliver


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