Since the days of the Roman Empire, stained glass windows have been an architectural embellishment to many buildings. They spread throughout Europe and America in the following centuries. These windows grace both religious structures and homes. They have been a source of beauty and art in well established areas as well as colonial settings. As with any building structure, weathering and everyday wear and tear can cause damage to stained glass windows. These beautiful art pieces must be monitored and repaired as soon as damage is noted.
The pictures and designs formed by stained glass windows are composed of colored glass held in place by a lead matrix called a came. These can be made of many different metals and alloys. Lead was traditionally a common metal used as it was easy to work. That is the reason stained glass windows are often referred to as leaded windows. The cames must be kept in good repair for the glass to remain in place. The average wear life for cames of any metal is between 75 and 100 years.
The glass may be colored during the forming process. It may also be colored with enamel or paint. No matter the coloring technique, all types are referred to as stained glass when used in windows. Damage to the glass can be caused by any number of issues. Weathering of the leaded matrix can cause pieces of glass to fall and shatter. Holes can develop in the areas where the matrix is weak. This requires putty to be added to repair the hole. If the frame is not vented properly, buckling can result in the glass coming loose.
Stained glass windows are repairable with the materials and techniques. Knowledge of the materials used in the original manufacturing process is essential. Care must be taken to correctly set each piece of the glass in the matrix of cames to restore the original picture or design. There are many reputable restoration businesses available to care for historic stained glass windows.