If you've recently gone under contract on a home with one or more custom stained glass windows, you may be wondering whether you've just committed to more upkeep than periodic swipes with a dust rag. While these windows can provide gorgeous light patterns and historic charm to any home, they are a bit higher maintenance than the vinyl or wood-framed storm windows used in most homes -- particularly if your stained glass windows are an unusual shape or size. Read on to learn more about what you'll need to do (and avoid) to keep your windows in great condition for years to come.
How should stained glass windows be cleaned?
Like all windows, your stained glass windows will need to be regularly cleaned to avoid scratching or other damage caused by small dust particles or grains of dirt or sand. Unless the dirt or dust build-up is extreme, you'll usually be able to accomplish this cleaning with just water and a microfiber cloth.
However, if your home has hard water or well water, you'll probably want to forgo the tap and use distilled or deionized water instead. Using hard water on stained or leaded glass could leave a calcium or magnesium residue that will attract additional contaminants and decrease the amount of light that passes through your window.
You'll also want to avoid using any commercial window cleaners that contain ammonia, as this chemical has the potential to damage or even remove the window's paint, leading to an expensive restoration project. If using water isn't an option, be sure that the window cleaning product you choose has a neutral pH.
Is there anything else you should do to protect your windows?
Because stained glass windows are usually composed of only a single pane of glass, rather than the dual panes used for storm windows, they're less resistant to heat transfer. You may find that during especially cold or hot months there is a noticeable draft coming from around the window.
If this is the case, the placement of a clear insulating film on the inside of your window can help stem heat loss without impacting appearance. Some of these insulating films also include UV-blocking particles that should prevent your window's paint from fading, extending its lifespan and minimizing the need for future restoration.
What should you do if your stained glass window becomes damaged?
At some point, your window may develop a chip or crack. In other cases, a damaged frame could cause water to leak into your home, warping the wooden beams or damaging drywall. While the perceived cost of professional stained glass restoration may make you nervous, it's very important to address window damage as quickly as possible to prevent a minor problem from developing into a major one.
When your stained glass window needs to be repaired or re-waterproofed, it's important to first fully remove it from the frame. Attempting to weatherproof or reglaze a window that is still encased in the outer wall will put additional stress on the glass by preventing it from expanding and contracting when heat is applied. This stress will weaken your window significantly, often leaving it in worse condition than it was when the repair began (even if the issue prompting repair has been fixed).
In general, because of the fragile nature of stained glass windows, it's best to contact a professional glazier or restoration company if your window develops structural problems. Not only can this get your repair completed in an expeditious manner, but it will reduce the chances of an inadvertent error that may permanently mar your beautiful window.
For more information and assistance in repairing a stained glass window, contact local glass repair companies in the area, such as Guardian Windows & Doors.