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Down East Stained Glass
Havelock Mortuary Dove Window
62" x 98"
Pricing Stained Glass Work
Guide to setting prices for stained glass.
Determine what you are worth as well as your creative
- Square Foot- Most studios have a basic idea what to
charge for their work based on a square foot calculation. This
is determined by comparing average charges for similar items
made in the past. Most clients are comfortable with a price range
where calculating your custom work is more accurate when a piece
count can be made. Basically this is determined after a full
size draft of the proposed window is made and an actual piece
count is done. This is where you determine what your work and
efforts are worth. Calculations are also based on how difficult
or easy the pattern is which is often debated amongst studios
to the accuracy of.
- Intricacy of Pattern- A pattern with many hard cuts
and difficult glass to work with justifies additional costs added
to the panel. You may do this by adding charges by the square
foot to a base cost. Smaller pieces of glass in a window adds
to the overall piece charge but in actuality can be less labor
intensive than larger pieces of the same design. This theory
of per piece charge calculation in respect to piece size is mostly
debated. To play it safe, put more weight to a square foot charge.
This will compensate your additional efforts using larger pieces
- Additional Costs- Procedures involving painting, plating,
decorative lead work, sandblasting, using expensive glass and
beveled glass in a window requires additional cost consideration.
For labor related charges again this is where you determine your
worth. Calculations based on previous similar work will be a
guide to figure out a time value. Material charges are normally
added at 150% above cost to cover your expenses.
- Formula and Estimates- Each studio has their own unique
cost base formula. Opinions on pricing stained glass is quite
broad in respect to how and what to charge for your work. Base
a formula on what you feel your work is worth. Unless you have
never done a stained glass window to base an accurate labor charge
you need to at the least make a window and take notes on how
long you spent working on it. After sucessfully charging an apropriate
rate for your work, including material costs, you can only then
estimate what a similar panel will cost.
Example window: 2' x 4' (8 square foot) You charged
$400. It is very safe to calculate a new project of similar design
and material use at $50/ square foot. If the new panel requires
additional piece work you can simply explain to your perspective
client that your previous window costs are $50/ square foot and
with additional work you expect cost to range in the $75 - $80/
square foot. If the new panel is 10 square foot, you can confidently
say the cost will range $750 - $800. If a negative response is
made by your client that your cost calculations may be a little
high you can simply explain making the window with less detail
just like the original panel will cost them $500. In most cases
customers decide to go somewhere in the middle. This is where
you have the challenge of creating a design that is slightly
more detailed than the original. Easy options are available such
as adding border work or other accents. With the new window made
you can now estimate future work based on your new square foot
Square Foot Formula- Width x height in inches
divided by 144.
Pro Tip: Weighing projects and determining a cost per
ounce or gram guide is extremely accurate for appropriate charges
on small items.
Myth: Charge less for lead work than foiled work because
it is easier. Fact: This may be true for easy shapes like
square borders and large pieces where foiling involves soldering
and lead skills are at at a minimum. However... Intracate lead
work and intense mitering can be both time consuming and require
additional skills to achieve. Lead work requires higher accuracy
demands from the glass cutter as compared to foiled work where
tolerances are a bit more relaxed. The argument suggests that
lead will compensate for a less perfect cut but actually the
reverse is true, especially when the widow is of moderate or
A good example is the window on the left to illustrate the
foil vs. lead debate. The outer border areas are easier to
do with lead except for the exact mitering needed around the
diamonds. The choice was lead for the uniform lines not for ease
of use. The inside areas including the dove and flowers were
also done with lead but would have been alot easier to do using
copper foil. Lead was chosen for it's consistancy with traditional
stained glass use and durability (less brittle) over foil. The
lead used for the finer detail consists of 1/8" and 3/16".
Exact cutting skills were needed as well as extensive mitering.