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RESIDENTIAL RESTORATION

Leaded glass windows were a favorite of the finest architects in turn-of-the-century America. They gave the homes stature.

Today, they remain an essential architectural element of many fine homes of that period. However, leaded glass requires maintenance.

Lead is a very soft metal. It is ideal for use in windows because of its flexibility and suppleness. The lead does not provide support for the windows. That comes from a combination of the putty that is placed between the lead and the glass during construction and the supporting structure provided by the window frame and steel reinforcement bars.

As a leaded glass window ages, it suffers from environmental impact. The putty dries, cracks and ultimately chips out of the window leaving gaps for water to further the damage. If neglected, the water damage can effect the window frames as well.

Generally there are no immediate visible indications of this deterioration. However, given time bowing of the window and water damage to the wall below the window will point out the problem.

The best defense against costly reconstruction of leaded glass panels is proper maintenance. Panels should be recemented at least every 25 years. The life of lead is generally accepted at between 75 and 100 years, at which time most leaded glass windows will require being rebuilt to prevent further damage to the window and frame. If water damage has occurred, and the window frame has been compromised, there are ways of repairing it to retain the authenticity of the structure.

 
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