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What is Stained Glass Overlay?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree

Stained glass overlay is a modern method of creating stained glass designs on existing glass. This overlay is typically constructed with colored Mylar® sheets and lead strips. Unlike traditional methods, stained glass overlay generally produces a stronger material and is available in standard or custom designs. This overlay can be installed on existing glass of any size or shape without removing it from the frame. Stained glass overlay is typically applied to windows and door panels in living and dining areas, but is also utilized for kitchen, bathroom, and furniture applications.

Stained glass overlay is a unique method of producing a colorful and authentic looking design on a piece of clear glass. This process is typically accomplished by bonding colored pieces of transparent Mylar® film directly onto an existing glass pane. The seams of the film are then covered with genuine lead strips on both sides of the glass. After the overlay is completed, it typically gives the appearance of authentic stained glass from an inside or outside view. Stained glass overlay usually allows more intricate designs to be constructed because individual pieces of cut glass are not utilized.

A stained glass overlay on a window.
A stained glass overlay on a window.

Traditional stained glass is constructed of many different pieces of colored glass bonded together with lead joints. This process often results in a fragile piece of material that may leak water and air. Stained glass overlay utilizes a solid sheet of clear glass that is strong and leakproof. These overlays are typically available in many standard designs. Most manufacturers will also custom design an overlay to compliment or match the existing room furnishings and decorating scheme.

Installing an overlay is a relatively simple process because the existing glass is not removed. This overlay can be installed over any type of glass including tempered, double-paned, insulated, and acrylic panes. The size and shape of overlays can range from large picture windows to narrow sidelights around a door. Very small designs are sometimes prefabricated and installed in place of the existing glass. Ceiling mounted skylights may also be covered with this material to produce colored lighting effects.

Although typically applied to windows and door panels, stained glass overlay can also be utilized in other ways. This material is often applied to glass surfaces such as room dividers and mirrors. Glass-paneled kitchen cabinets are sometimes covered with overlays designed to match wallpaper patterns. Bathroom applications include shower doors, enclosures, and light panels. Stained glass overlay may also be applied to decorative glass panels in coffee and end tables.

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    • A stained glass overlay on a window.
      By: zatletic
      A stained glass overlay on a window.