Question: My sister gave me a lovely stained-glass panel last Christmas. I hung it in a window to give my living room a little privacy and color, but the hook holding it came loose. The panel fell, breaking some of the glass and bending the frame. Can it be repaired? Where?
Answer: Yes, any stained-glass shop that does repairs should be able to help you. The repair person will need to cut out the damaged area, find and cut matching glass, smooth adhesive-backed copper tape around the edges of each piece, then coat the copper with solder.
Pamela Bogdonoff, owner of McLean Stained Glass Studios in McLean (703-528-1374; www.mcleanstainedglass.com), took a look at the picture you sent and said you’re lucky that the damage appears to be confined to an edge. When a window is damaged in the middle, she often has to disassemble it and redo almost everything, making a repair more costly than if she were creating the window from scratch.
Bogdonoff said she typically charges $75 an hour but for $100 could probably fix everything shown in the picture.
At Virginia Stained Glass Company in Springfield (703-425-4611; www.virginiastainedglass.com), employee Patricia Ness said prices start at $59, which covers replacing one broken piece of glass.
Both Ness and Bogdonoff said they are sure their glass collections contain pieces that would be a good match for the pieces that broke.
Question: My 1940s Cape Cod has a brick fireplace, which a previous owner covered with 12-by-12-inch ceramic floor tile. We would like to remove the tile and return to the original brick look. How should we proceed to avoid damaging the brick? Will the mortar that is holding the tile to the brick leave enough residue that we will have to paint the brick?
Answer: Restoring a fireplace that’s been tiled is a big job, so make sure before you begin that you really, really want to get back to brick. You won’t know until you’re deep into the project how much work it will involve, and by then you won’t have the option of just living with what you have.
The quickest way to remove the tiles is with an SDS roto-hammer with a tile chisel scraper attachment. (SDS stands for slotted drive system, a design that allows the bit to slide in the chuck, enhancing the hammering action of the tool.) Examples include the Bosch Bulldog Extreme, $199 at Home Depot, and Harbor Freight’s version from Chicago Electric Power Tools for $63. Figure on about $15 for the scraper bit. Wear goggles and ear protectors, and cover carpet and upholstery. You’ll probably need to chip or cut through a grout line to get underneath an edge of one piece of tile. Then you can scrape horizontally to pry up and break off the tiles.
One they’re off, test whether warm water softens the adhesive. If you’re lucky, whoever installed the tile used a mastic that responds to water. Then it’s just a matter of scrubbing and cleaning and trying to confine the mess.
More likely, though, the adhesive is thinset mortar, a cement-based product that holds fast even when wet. Scrape off as much as you can without damaging the brick. Some brick is hard and smooth and withstands scraping; other brick is rough, soft and nearly impossible to scrape.
Once you’ve scraped as much as you dare, one option is to try to remove what’s left with a chemical stripper. Prosoco, a manufacturer of masonry cleaners and protective products (800-255-4255; www.prosoco.com), recommends its SafStrip 8 stripper, which has a thick gel consistency and is less hazardous than many strippers. It also has a neutral pH, so it won’t damage bricks, a customer service representative said. The product is sold at companies that supply masonry products. Prosoco has a store locator tool on its Web site.
If you decide that there is too much mastic to remove or if you don’t want to use a chemical stripper, painting is one option. But also consider facing the brick with thin brick — real, fired-clay brick sliced into pieces as thin as half an inch. If you use thinset behind these thin bricks and regular mortar in the visible joints, you’ll wind up with the look of regular brick. Be sure to buy special corner pieces if your fireplace has exposed corners, because showing the thin brick edges would give away your secret. One bonus of this approach: You don’t need to worry about removing all of the old thinset.
Most brick suppliers carry thin brick. Potomac Valley Brick (301-309-9600; www.pvbrick.com) lists 25 kinds in its product catalogue. Thin brick costs about the same as regular brick, or even more, because slicing thin pieces adds to the manufacturing process.
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