Stained glass is a beautiful and unique decorative feature. If you’re lucky enough to have it in your home, chances are you want to do everything possible to preserve it. Properly maintained, stained or leaded glass can last many lifetimes. Think of all the centuries-old churches and cathedrals with stained glass still intact.
Some people are quick to have their stained glass removed or replaced if it is cracked, chipped or faded, but stained glass can almost always be repaired or restored. The most important thing to know is that you must hire someone who is professionally trained in stained glass repair and restoration. Stained glass is delicate, and it requires special handling. Otherwise, you risk losing the entire piece.
How Is Stained Glass Repaired?
If a couple panels are cracked or chipped, a skilled craftworker can replace them individually. The craftworker will order the matching replacement glass, cut the panels to size, remove the old panels and install the new ones. If the stained glass is faded, the piece will have to be repainted so the new panels blend in. Because stained glass is usually old, repainting is very commonly recommended with repairs.
If the damage goes beyond just a cracked panel or two, you’ll need a more extensive restoration. A complete restoration typically involves removing all glass panels, replacing any damaged panels, repainting all panels and releading, or replacing the lead caming that holds the pieces of glass together. Releading is expensive and more time consuming than basic repairs, but the job usually lasts 100 years or more, so you’ll never have to do it again.
In some cases, the wood frame surrounding the stained glass also needs repair and/or restoration. Many stained glass shops won’t do this kind of work, but those that don’t often subcontract it out to a local woodworking shop they trust.
Stained glass repair and replacement is almost always done in the shop, not in your home. You can remove the stained glass window yourself and bring it to the shop for repair. That will save some money, but the risk of damage is high. Or, you can hire the shop to pick up the stained glass, repair it and then reinstall it later.
How Much Does Stained Glass Repair Cost?
Depending on the complexity of the job, stained glass repair and/or restoration costs anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. The price is based on the extent of the damage, the size of the window, the difficulty of repair, and the difficulty of removal and installation.
- Many glass shops charge $50 to $100 per hour for labor alone. The high rate is a function of the difficult and delicate nature of the work.
- Having a single perimeter piece replaced might cost $30, not including the cost of the glass. For an inside piece, budget closer to $50. If you need only a few minor repairs, the project might cost $200 to $500.
- Complete restoration of residential stained glass usually costs more like $1,000 to $3,000 per panel, depending on size and condition.
- For a large stained glass piece like you might see in a church, repairs might cost $10,000 to $20,000, while releading might cost $20,000 to $40,000.
- Pickup, removal, delivery and installation almost always cost extra.
Author: Ashley Smith