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Restoration Saving Existing Sacred Spaces

Restoring, Maintaining, and Protecting Stained Glass and Mosaics

Emil Frei Inc. specializes in the restoration & preservation of stained glass and mosaics.  We provide services for windows in various levels of disrepair–from comprehensive restorations to minor breakages.  If you are interested in any services related to restoring, maintaining, or protecting your stained glass windows or mosaics we can help you.


Preservation Services


St. Michael's of Biloxi, MS after Hurricane Katrina

St. Michael’s of Biloxi, MS after Hurricane Katrina

When churches become victims of fire, hail, hurricanes, or other disasters, damage to their stained glass windows can be devastating.

After such an event,  we can help by providing our professional assessment of damage. Then we present our recommendations for repair, tailored to the specific needs of that church.  We do not offer a “one size fits all” approach to restoration, as this would cause unnecessary cost to many of our clients. Some projects are more typical while others require innovative solutions.  We are equipped to help our clients with all types of stained glass window damage.


Restoration in progress at St.Michael's

Restoration in progress at St.Michael’s

Our expertise in preservation and restoration has taken us to churches across the United States.  When for example,  St. Michael’s of Biloxi, MS sustained damage from tidal surges during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we were called down to Mississippi to literally “pick up the pieces” of the windows we originally designed and fabricated in 1963.  Much of the lower 15 ft of their beautiful floor to ceiling windows had been swept out to sea.  Using existing photographs and the original design sketches, we were able to match with exacting detail the color, texture, and painting of the original windows.  And to prevent future damage to their windows, we engineered a new window framing system that allows one person to quickly raise the lower window sections in the event of another devastating hurricane.  As far as we know, no other framing system like it exists in the world.   It was designed and created here in our studio specifically for the needs of St. Michael’s Parish.  

To see a video about the restoration of St. Michael’s windows and the unique framing system click here: WLOX News Coverage of Biloxi Restoration



Nicholas Frei adds steel reinforcement to a damaged window panel

Additional steel reinforcement is often added to window panels that experience bulging

As churches grow older they will likely require some maintenance for their stained glass or mosaics.  Without proper care, minor damages can worsen and become costly repairs.

We provide our clients an assessment of damages and then work with them to determine a cost-effective solution.  We make every effort to keep costs down while still preserving the highest standards of our craft.

Jenny Glazing

When lead came is seriously deteriorated windows are sometimes taken apart and reglazed.

Some maintenance issues that we commonly encounter with stained glass include:  glass breaks and shatters, bulges in or out of window panels, cracked or missing perimeter putties, lead oxidation, damaged or missing lead came, poor prior glass replacements, and water leakage.

Some maintenance issues that we commonly encounter with mosaics include:  loose or missing tesserae, cracked or scratched tile, loose or missing grout, and staining of grout from water damage.









Cleaning a window from an aerial lift.

Over the course of many years, candle soot, dust, grime, paint, and lead oxidation can gradually build up on a stained glass window and detract from its appearance. A good cleaning and polishing will revive a dirty and neglected window.

There are a host of reasons why a church may have delayed cleaning its windows. Perhaps they are afraid of damaging them.  They may have a difficult time accessing them if the windows are high and out of reach.  Or they may not be aware of just how dirty they are.

Our craftsmen are experienced in handling stained glass windows and are trained to carefully clean them.  Cleaning is a service most often performed in conjunction with restoration of damaged windows or the installation of exterior protection.  We will likely recommend having them cleaned if we are already involved in either of these processes, especially if they have not been cleaned in many years and are not easy to access.



Custom window framing with protective plating

Custom window framing with protective plating is added to a window exterior

Stained glass windows are often the most valuable and most vulnerable feature of a church.  They are exposed to weather, vandalism, and accidental impacts.  Over time, the accumulation of damage can be significant and costly to repair. Occasionally window damage can even be dangerous, and it is almost always ugly in appearance.

For these reasons, providing protection to your stained glass windows is a worthy investment.  We apply our expert knowledge of protective solutions to providing effective protection to your church’s windows.

A visual comparison between a window before and after we have installated our exterior protection system.

A visual comparison between a window before (left window) and after we have installed new exterior protection (right window)

At Emil Frei & Associates, we are attentive to the visual impact and maintenance concerns  of installing an additional window system.  That is why we make every effort to reduce the visual impact of framing elements and the protective plating on our window protection systems. They are always minimal and attractive.  We believe that the protective elements should never detract from the beauty of the windows or the architecture.  And excepting an occasional cleaning, our window protection solutions are nearly maintenance free.  So you can take comfort in knowing that your windows will be protected, continue to look great, and require very little upkeep for many years to come.

Some of the additional benefits of installing our exterior protection systems include: the improvement of a windows insulation properties, the elimination of air infiltration through window fenestrations, the elimination of insect infiltration through window fenestrations,  structural reinforcement to window tracery, the elimination of noise from “window rattling,” and the reduction of exterior noise on nearby streets, playgrounds, etc.