The individual or committee that is responsible for the financial planning of an art glass project is faced with a difficult task. On the one hand, the cost to the purchaser may represent a sizeable expenditure to be kept as small as possible. On the other, a small budget may be an artistic or technical restraint that can prevent the glass studio from attaining the buyer's objectives.

Finalizing a budget for art glass is primarily the responsibility of the one acquiring the glass, although the designer, architect and artist will also participate actively in the budgeting process. The following are some guidelines that will be helpful to each of these parties whether they are planning a decorative project for a distinctive and gracious home, a large inspirational window in a church or some form of art glass in another kind of public place, such as a school, library or business.

An accurate stained glass budget and beveled glass budget can only be set after clear objectives for the project are established

In order to establish an overall budget for stained or beveled art glass it is first necessary to decide what the buyer wants to accomplish through the use of art glass.

Some typical objectives are to replace an unattractive view with a beautiful scene, to create an elegant and welcoming entrance to a home, to enhance the decor in a gracious home, to distinguish a sacred worship space from an ordinary meeting space, to inspire through the proclamation of a basic tenet of faith, and to provide privacy from those who may be able to see into bathrooms, hallways and bedrooms of homes or into private areas of churches.

Objectives may also include guidelines for how these goals are to be reached. For instance, certain colors and pattens may be specified to match a home's existing decorating scheme or prominent church symbols or events important to the congregation may be given as subjects for church windows.

Only after identifying the specific objectives for the project being planned is it possible to determine what will be necessary to be done in order to achieve them and the kind of budget that will be required to do it.

Our studio and other professionals in design, architecture, theology, and other pertinent subjects are available to assist the client in the important process of setting satisfactory objectives and of approving the budget.In these critical areas the ultimate decision-maker should be the purchaser.

How Price Is Determined

The price for a stained glass or beveled glass piece will vary widely depending on the requirements of the project. However, there are TWO BASIC METHODS that are most often used to provide a starting point for determining what stained glass and beveled glass will cost.

1. The square footage of the project's area multiplied by a cost per square foot

2. A percentage of the overall cost of the building project when the project involves the creation of a new structure or a major renovation

1. Cost Per Square Foot Method

Once the objectives of a project have been established, a feasible cost per square foot can be determined by the following variables. The combined total of all these variables is a price expressed as a rate per square foot for materials and professional services required to achieve the buyer's objectives.

Numerous factors influence cost per square foot

the cost of design

the type of glass used

the complexity or intricacy of the design

the dimensions and shape of the piece

special techniques used in preparation of the glass, such as custom beveling, fusing, slumping, or painting and firing

production costs

the construction of a project model, colored drawings or similar sample representation

studio overhead and miscellaneous costs

The result of these variables is what is sometimes referred to as an "on-the-bench" or "in-the-studio" price. This is the price of the stained or beveled glass alone. It does not include amounts for the purchase of new frames, for the refurbishment of old frames or for any installation.

The client's impact on the cost of the project

Two of the biggest direct costs that the client can influence are the amount of time necessary to develop an appropriate design and the intricacy of the design itself.

Making timely decisions

We will work with a client as much as necessary to help him identify and refine the objectives, guidelines and budget for their project. A client can facilitate the entire design process by considering information and recommendations provided in a timely manner and making decisions without undue delay.

If they can do this, we are usually able to narrow in on a style and theme or subject quickly so that long periods of inactivity, frequent revisions and the need to start over are rare.

Flexibility to achieve satisfactory objectives

Intricacy of design refers to such things as the number and shape of pieces. For instance, lots of pieces take more time to cut and assemble than just a few. However, a lot of pieces with straight edges could take less time than a few complicated curving pieces.

Size is not necessarily the most important variable in price. Sometimes on a square foot comparison a smaller panel may be more expensive per square foot than a larger one. A smaller panel is not always less expensive than one a bit larger.

Although most of our stained and beveled art glass is custom designed, we also have a very large selection of existing glass designs, bevels and religious medallions from which our clients can choose.

In many cases a third design alternative is available that is less expensive than custom design but more suitable than using a stock item by itself. This is the modification of a stock design, bevel, or medallion in order to adapt it to the client's own particular situation. This is something that we are often able to do that permits us to fit into many more budgets and still deliver a suitable and distinctive piece of art.

Therefore, the number and type of results the client is open to considering will have a significant impact on the final price of the project.

To summarize with a comparison, if the client's objectives, tastes and budget call for a Mercedes-Benz panel, we can design, build and install that. Or, we can make a Buick if that is more appropriate. We just can't make a Mercedes-Benz for the same price as a Buick.

As a matter of policy, we will not recommend a worn out used pickup truck to a prospective client that won't meet their objectives even if that is all they can afford.

2. Percentage Of Overall Costs For New Construction Method

This method of pricing sets the art glass budget using a certain percentage of the overall cost for a building project as the allowance for stained and beveled glass. It is then up to the glass studio and the client's entire team to come up with something and some way of doing it that will be satisfactory for this amount. Because of the variety of kinds and sizes of new construction projects, no reliable standard exists for what this percentage should actually be.

In effect, this method is deciding what to spend before deciding what you want to buy. However, an experienced glass studio shoud be able to provide examples of the kinds of projects that are feasible at different budget levels once the budget been assigned.

These examples can also be used as guidelines to set the actual percentage that wil be allowed for stained or beveled glass in the first place. Doing this in advance of construction wil also help ensure that sufficient financial resources are available to meet all of the project's objectives.

Common Additional Cost Factors Include Frames and Installation

Before a glass panel can be installed, a suitable frame must be available for it. Such a frame will be attractive, easty to maintain, strong and able to accept and support the art glass. Most clients prefer that the glass studio prepare or provide such an opening and install the stained or beveled glass.

The importance of considering frames and installation early in planning process

Decisions made in the areas of frames and installation can significantly affect the quality and cost of the overall art glass project. Issues concerning these areas should always be considered in the beginning of a project.

CAUTION! Lots of common frames are incompatible with stained and beveled glass

Because of the special characteristics of stained and beveled glass, many frames, such as those with lightweight hollow extruded sashes sometimes found in new homes and smooth storefront style frames in some churches are not compatible with the requirements of art glass.

Part of our service is to evaluate and advise our clients regarding their framing requirements and alternatives. This should never be left for the architect, designer or client to decide alone. The wrong frames may limit your stained glass and beveled glass options or eliminate them entirely. Or, they may complicate the installation and significantly inncrease the cost of the project.

In many cases the existing window opening is nearly ready to accept the new art glass. For instance, the new stained or beveled glass panel may simply replace the original plain glass in the frame with no further modification. The only additional work necessary is to remove the original plain glass. Therefore, the cost of any additional framing materials and installing the window is low.

In other instances, the new glass panel can be mounted against or in front of the original plain glass that is left in place. If an additional separate channel for the new glass is necessary, it can be attached to the existing frame. The cost of doing this is also relatively low.

Frame restoration or modification can be a large part of the total project

Even when it is determined that the new art glass can be installed using the existing frames, there are factors that may contribute significantly to the project.

For instance, sections of wood frame that have rotted and disappeared may have to be replaced. A weakened or sagging frame may have to be strengthened. Inappropriate and improperly installed plastic covering may have to be removed. Or, the frame and surrounding trim may need to be preserved and painted.

Modifications to frame may also be called for in order to reduce or enlarge the size of the divisions within the opening to suit the art glass better. An additional channel to hold the art glass may also have to be fabricated and installed in order to attach the new glass to the old frame.

Besides the condition of the frame, location is also an important factor in any work done to it and installation made into it. Obviously, it will be easier and less expensive to work on a frame and install a new panel into it if it can be approached while standing on the floor than one high on the chancel wall over the organ pipes.

When to replace an existing frame

Sometimes it is appropriate to replace an existing frame entirely. A new frame may actually be less expensive than restoring an old one. New frames also have the advantages of being low maintenance and can be designed to include the proper kind of double-glazing if required.

This is also true when working with entrances and doors for homes. In many cases, the coverall cost-benefit favors replacing an existing "contractor's grade" prefabricated doorway with a new custom doorway.

Whether for doors or windows, new frames can be used to improve the space available for glass design. Homes often have double hung window frames divided into numerous small panes. In churches, old frames may be divided into odd patterns or rectangles or a boring pattern of rows and columns. New window rames and doors can eliminate small and unusual shaped panes.

Budgeting for window frames in new construction

When constructing a new building, the cost of frames for stained glass should not normally be considered part of the stained glass project budget. The reason is that even without stained glass in a window opening, some sort of frame would be needed to hold the plain glass that would otherwise be in the opening. Therefore, the elimination of stained glass from the building project does not eliminated the cost for window frames.

Further, frames designed specifically for stained glass and beveled glass are no more expensive than comparable quality frames that will not accept art glass.

Shipping and travel to site

One additional cost factor related to installation is the transport of the window and any craftspeople that will install it. With proper packing and handling, stained and beveled glass can be safely transported long distances. The cost of this transport will be determined by the size and nature of the art glass and the number of people needed to accompany or install it.

As a matter of business practice, we are usually involved in the installation of our own work.

A Finished Budget Works To Ensure A Successful Project

As can be seen, the answer to "How much does stained and beveled glass cost?" is often "It all depends". Nevertheless, it is still possible to arrive at a price in advance that is a realistic budget for a specific project.

This will help ensure not only that the final result will be beautiful and enjoyable but that the process of acquiring it will be pleasant and go smoothly, as well.

© 2021 David Wixon and Associates