Leadlights add an eye-catching and attractive focus to homes and public buildings, but what are the options if they lose their pristine appearance or suffer damage?
Gradual deterioration is often due to poor ventilation, thermal expansion and contraction or structural stress and strain. Exposure to harsh weather or traffic fumes causes discolouration, while bats, pigeons and other birds are responsible for other problems. There again, chemical instability in imperfect glass leads to pitting, especially in humid conditions — and when putty dries out in conventional leadlight windows, leaks may set in.
Before decay cause further deterioration or the complete loss of the window, it is best to seek advice from a leadlight repairs expert. Replacing broken leaded glass requires skill and experience to ensure that the finished result is of high quality and matches the original(s). Renovating and repairing the lead crosspieces (also known as cames) requires special skills to maintain continuity; a reliable leadlight restoration services company will also use sustainable, environmentally friendly recycling methods wherever possible.
If it is necessary to remove the leadlight for repair work in the studio, the expert glazier(s) will usually fit a temporary replacement glass window or a wooden board for security. After recording the design with tracing materials or photographs, restoration begins with the removal of accumulated paint or dirt to leave clean lead pieces. Then, very carefully and attentively, glazing specialists fit the new glass pieces and a border to lock everything in place. The next step is to square the corners and solder the panel joints with a binding flux for long-lasting results. A thin layer of putty adds weatherproofing and stops rattling before final polishing (or other techniques) help match the renovated piece to onsite windows.
Alternatively, in modern artificial leadlights that are gaining favour in domestic installations, repairs are more straightforward, with self-adhesive solder-free lead strips on both sides of the window. An even newer method involves floating coloured resin onto the glass to divide different glass pieces with lines that closely emulate traditional lead came strips.
Suppliers must be able to interpret Australian Standard 1288:2006 correctly to ensure protection and safety. To achieve the best results, the leadlight restoration services contractor should adhere to best practices and consider the style of building. For example, particular types of leadlight design are available to suit freestone-fronted houses, characteristic of the 1915 to 1930s era in South Australia. Finally, when choosing leadlight repair glaziers, it is worth checking that the company is an accredited member of the governing Australian Glass & Glazing Association (AGGA).