Part of Historic Environment Scotland




Traditional plain glass used to glaze windows adds to the character of the windows of traditional buildings, yet its historic value is often overlooked.

Glass made before the 1950s has a texture and reflection different to that of modern glass, as its imperfections reflect light at many angles. Another of its characteristics is the way in which traditional glass slightly distorts the view beyond the window. Different types of plain glass have subtly different qualities.

As well as letting light into a property, glass can also be used decoratively. Glass-making is an art that is thousands of years old. But property owners will most likely come across types of decorative glass from the 1800s and 1900s.

Traditional glass is very thin and vulnerable to breakage, and there are a number of common risks to glazing.

Maintaining plain glass windows usually only involves cleaning the glass, replacing lost putty and regular painting. Specialist skills may be needed to safely maintain decorative glass.

Where glass has been broken, retaining the original material is important, especially if it’s decorated. Repair of plain glass may involve removing broken glass and inserting a new pane. But a specialist can often repair decorative glass using epoxy-based materials developed for this purpose.

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