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Protect stained glass windows

In a house of worship, stained glass windows are not only a beautiful addition to the facility, but they can also be an expression of faith. You should take special care with these pieces of artwork—both when cleaning them and when safeguarding against potential damage. Church Mutual has provided insurance for thousands of buildings with stained glass windows, and we’ve compiled a few general rules of thumb for preserving them:

  1. Schedule annual checks of your stained glass. Your staff custodian or property manager can perform most of these checks, but you should bring in a specialist every three to five years to perform an extensive inspection to check for cracks and imperfections. If you have moveable panels, you should inspect them more often because they can be subject to more wear and tear than stationary panels.
  2. Know the signs of damage. Of course, the clearest signs of damage are cracks or missing pieces. However, more subtle signs include light leaks in between the glass and lead. Another indicator that the window needs repair is sagging or bulging glass. This probably means the window has inadequate support and may be at risk for breaking.
  3. Choose cleaning solutions carefully. Avoid dish soap and cleaners with alcohol or ammonia, because they can damage the solder that holds the windows together. Instead, use liquid glass cleaners intended for stained glass. Spray the cleaner onto a clean white cloth and gently rub the glass. You can use cotton swabs for detail work and hard-to-reach areas. In most cases, you only need to perform a thorough cleaning annually.
  4. Hire an appraiser who specializes in stained glass to determine the value of your glass if you are not sure. This should be updated every 5 years. When you know the value of your glass, you can estimate how much it would cost to replace it.
  5. Protect windows from damage and environmental factors. The best way to protect your windows is to use glazing. If you do not already have glazing on your windows, hire a professional to assess and apply it. All glazing should be on the outside of the windows.

There are experts on the Church Mutual staff who have specific experience working with coverage involving stained glass and other fine art. The best way you can protect this precious part of your house of worship is to make sure you have adequate insurance. Learn more about our fine art coverage at