All Stained Glass Windows Eventually Require Releading

Stained Glass windows all eventually will need to be releaded.  After a century of exposure or even less, the lead cames deteriorate causing loosening of the glass sections allowing bowing, cracking, even major breaks or in extreme cases, pieces falling out.  Time, temperature changes and weight of the windows simply take their toll.  In some cases brace rods can be added to correct bowing and add strength to the window, but in other cases complete restoration might be necessary.

working on stained glass windowsWhen that time comes, you can rest assured that your window will be treated with the finest stained glass restoration techniques available today.  VanDerHoff Studios has been specializing in historic restorations of stained glass windows in a religious setting for over 35 years.

Our stained glass window restoration process involves careful removal of the entire window, leaving the opening protected with a storm covering on the exterior and foam board on the interior.  The foam board provides a filtered light and climate control.  The window is then loaded into an enclosed trailer and secured for transport back to the studio.  Once delivered to the studio, our artist photographs each deteriorated panel lit and unlit, if possible (some panels will not stand against the light table due to severity of deterioration), for your restoration records.  The panels are then transferred to the layout table where the brace rods are removed and rubbings are made.

Each panel of the stained glass window is then placed into the water table to soak for 24-36 hours before each section is removed from the lead cames.  As each section is removed it is thoroughly cleaned to restore its original vibrance and luster then placed atop the rubbing on the layout table.

The final step in the studio is the actual releading of the sections to recreate the window panels.  New lead cames are bent and cut according to the pattern and soldered in place.  After soldering the entire panel it is cemented and left to dry 12-24 hours before final cleaning and penciling.  The restoration is not complete until each panel is reinstalled with new brace rods and slip joints.

VanDerHoff Studios recommends that all stained glass windows be covered with protective storm coverings whether your stained glass windows need releading or not. These cherished pieces of historic art and the millwork that hold them should be protected from nature, vandals and accidents.  

To help you understand the terminology and key points in our processes, download our Explanation of stained glass restoration terms. (PDF)

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