How Does Stained Glass Deteriorate?

Broken Stained GlassOver time, things can happen to stained glass windows, including damage and deterioration.

Broken Glass

The glass itself, if poorly processed or impure, can have tiny internal fractures or minor discolorations. Of course good old dirt can make stained glass windows dirty– which can be cleaned, thankfully. And glass, whether we like it or not, can be scratched, etched and/or broken due to a variety of factors including abrasion and chemicals. More specifically, stained glass windows can deteriorate because of excessive force placed on them, internal stress, vibration, the heat of a fire, and/or chemical instability.

Deteriorated Paint

Painted glass, which typically includes pictorial scenes and figures like the ones you see in church windows, can deteriorate due to weathering and condensation. Also, paints are “fired,” and it the firing process isn’t done properly or poor quality mixtures are used, then there could be some flaking or bubbling. That’s why, in some scenes, you’ll notice facial features have seemed to deteriorate over time, so they need retouching.

Framing Issues

Finally, there’s the issue of the skeletal structure holding the glass in place. Pieces of glass are typically secured in place by lead, zinc, brass or copper. Frames may include wood sash and muntins, which naturally decay over time. Or, perhaps steel t-bars and/or “saddle bars” are holding the stained glass, but they corrode over time. In some cases, terra cotta or stone tracery may fracture and spall. When the framing fails, stained glass windows can easily deteriorate. Oftentimes, they’ll sag. Cracks will develop. If vibration and/or weather rattle the frame/glass in a forceful way, the glass may fall out of its frame.

Stained glass windows normally last a long time, but they deteriorate thanks to aforementioned problems, as well as exposure to moisture and sunlight over time.

Cumberland Stained Glass restores windows to their original beauty. Should you have stained glass windows that have deteriorated over the years, and you want careful workers who will pay meticulous attention to detail, hire Cumberland Stained Glass to repair/restore your window(s). With almost three decades of building, installing and restoring stained glass, the experts at Cumberland can make your stained glass windows look new again. Please contact the experts at Cumberland Stained Glass Windows via email at [email protected] or call 717-691-8290 for more information.