Storm Glass

Protective glazing, or storm glass, is a good way to safeguard stained glass artwork if the windows are at risk for breakage due to vandalism or severe weather conditions. Cumulative damage from precipitation, sunlight, and temperature fluctuations can be reduced by properly installed and vented protective glazing.

The worst problem with much existing storm glass is the lack of venting. Unvented storm glazing allows heat and moisture to build up between the stained glass and the protective glass, contributing to lead corrosion, glass breakage and frame deterioration. Removing the existing protective glazing allows for the installation of vents, the maintenance of the exterior of the stained glass frames and the resealing of the glazing.

Some protective glazing distracts from the stained glass on the interior and looks unattractive from the exterior. Storm glazing by CSS is custom-designed to be as invisible as possible using the following methods: reducing the number of horizontal framing lines (which also reduces the risk of leakage); modifying joints to follow the lead lines rather than compete with them; painting T-bars and/or vent frames a dark color, visually reducing them.

Safety laminate glass is used by CSS for protective glazing. This polycarbonate sandwiched between panes of glass offers strength without the risk of yellowing; it is as attractive as normal window glass. However, if the original had a certain color or texture, CSS can provide custom laminating to match.

Based on decades of experience installing and replacing protective glazing, we have a number of specific recommendations that we follow whenever possible:

  • Modify or replace any storm glass that is not vented.
  • Replace protective glazing that covers the exterior of a historic frame.
  • Set the storm glazing into the original frames, along with the stained glass.
  • Repair or replacement damaged wood in the frame, including deteriorated window sills.
  • Use safety laminate glass for protective glazing, rather than glass alone, which may not offer enough protection, and rather than plastics such as Lexan, which often discolor within a few years.
  • In areas that require hurricane protection, use hurricane storm glass certified for code approval. 

There are economic benefits to ordering protective glazing and stained glass restoration at the same time. Because storm glass is custom-cut to fit the frame, creating it without the stained glass to use as a template is more time-consuming. Labor time is also saved by removing existing protective glazing, if any, at the same time the restored stained glass and the new storm glass are re-installed. This efficiency also brings savings due to the reduced number of scaffolding erections. 

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