Lots of us appreciate the wavy glass we find in our old windows. Some don’t even know what they have, but for those of us who have taken note of the unique appearance of wavy glass, the new stuff just won’t cut it.
Old glass has bubbles, waves, inclusions, varying thickness…all kinds of beautiful imperfections, and that’s exactly why we love it! I’m sure I’m not the only one, but to me, modern float glass is too perfect. There’s no character, no uniqueness. Every window looks the same and its perfection is like monolithic splendor run amok.
I want the character. I want the history. I want something perfectly imperfect, and wavy glass is just that.
A Short History of Glass
For years, the only glass available was hand-blown glass. It was expensive and large sheets were not available. A local glass worker would blow the glass on a rod and spin it into discs which when cooled could be cut into small pieces.
That is why homes built in the 1600 and 1700s have so many small panes of glass in their windows. Price and availability of glass dictated window designs and lite patterns.
Later as technology improved in the early 1900s, machine drawn cylinder glass was introduced. This process drew large cylinders of glass vertically from a machine. These cylinders could be upwards of 40 feet tall!
They were then cut into smaller cylinders of 7-10 feet typically before being cut lengthwise and reheated to flatten them into one big sheet, from which the glass could be cut according to the window maker’s needs.
Then around the mid-20th century, float glass was invented, which is how we get modern glass. The molten glass is poured out onto a bed of molten tin, which allows the glass to “float” on top and level out perfectly to remove any imperfections.
With float glass, you get perfect pieces of glass. Perfectly boring!
Where to Find Wavy Glass
Probably the best place to find wavy glass is the curb. Sadly, so many people throw out their original windows to get replacement windows. If you’re new to this blog, you’ll learn that replacement windows (or disposable windows, as I have come to call them) are a terrible idea and not worth anyone’s time or money.
Finding old windows at the curb to salvage the wavy glass is how my company has created a large stock pile of the stuff. But if you can’t find any laying around the first-rung neighborhoods in your town, then there are some other sources you can turn to.
Search your local architectural savage yard. Most larger cities have at least one or two of these shops in the area. Antique shops might be another place to check, but you won’t get the kind of deals you will find at salvage yards. For between $5 and $50, you can often walk away with some old glass.how much you’ll spend just depends on the size and waviness of the glass.
AGW makes some great wavy glass in several different grades of waviness to help you match the glass to the age of your project. You can also order samples to find the options that works best for you.
Hollander’s manufactures glass that is similar in appearance to the wavy glass of old. It may not have the history of antique glass, but for appearances, it looks a lot closer than float glass. Hollander’s also has several grades of glass to match different age buildings.
This restoration glass company has been around since 1927 in New Jersey. They have different options of wavy glass and also offer antique style mirror glass.
Between these options, you should be able to find a sufficient solution to your old glass needs. Always keep an eye out on the curb for some free old windows though. You may be lucky enough to snag some of the best old glass just waiting for the garbage truck.
This is another great manufacturer of wavy restoration glass in several grades. They can even put together wavy glass IGUs if you should need.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.
68 thoughts on “All About Wavy Glass”
I have a 1920’s house with a combination of wavy and newer glass windows, with 9.5X12″ panes . The previous owner scratched up the windows pretty badly, probably while scraping and painting the muntins. When my husband restored a few of our windows I spent a lot of time trying to smooth out these scratches with superfine steel wool, but that was ineffective. Do you know another solution? Am I better off replacing the panes with something from Hollander or AGW? We live outside Phila., PA.
While having a room in my house painted, the painters painted the sashes as well—-then, when they became slightly stuck together, the painters gave the windows a good smack. The wavy glass in both panes cracked (of course). I was able to find a seller on eBay who sold me 4 new panes—-but the local glass repair “expert” (and I use the term loosely) refuses to cut them to size, saying they’re fragile and will break. How do you get the old wood sash off in order to cut and install the new wavy panes?
Seeking sheets of wavy glass, we can have them cut down to 10″x14″ for window panes that need replacing. Era is 1900, original glass has distortion and occasional lines & need to preserve the non-transparent look
Try Hollander Glass. They will ship replica wavy glass. Their Restover glass is very close to the original wavy glass.
I live in a home built in the 1920s and I’m trying to find wavy glass for three of my panes that are cracked. I’d appreciate some suggestions. I live in Lagrange,GA.
Thanks for the help.
7 th street salvage in Macon ga… I was able to get a pane to fit my French doors. (I also have a 1920s house). They have ALOT of replacement parts! We un-remodeled our 1960s kitchen. They were a big help 🙂
I live in Athens Alabama and have a 1905 house full of the wavy glass. Anyone willing to pay for someone to replace our wavy glass with tempered glass can have it. Large full windows of the dangerous stuff- 3500sq foot house. Last week our dog was running down the hall to say hello to my husband home for lunch. He hit the original glass on the door and it broke into dangerous shards. He was stabbed by it, cut his artery and he bled to death. I hate all my windows now and am worried about my kids. I’m done with historic glass, so please if anyone wants it you can have it if you have it replaced with new tempered glass.
Kris, I’m sorry to hear about your dog! That’s awful.
That’s terrible! I’m so sorry about your dog. I live in a 1923 craftsman and all the windows are wavy but all the wavy windows have a protective storm window cover.
How many panes do you need?
I bought out an old building supply company and received a lot of glass in the deal.
We have several 6 ft x 8 ft sheets of “piured” or “wavey” glass we’d like to sell. Is there a market for it?
Locally you may find someone, but it’s hard to ship in a cost effective way.
where are you located, Im interested
Are your 6’ & 8’ poured wavy glass still available??
If so, please call me or text me at 301-675-5349.
Thanks. Alan Adler
Hi there, everyone! I’ve been scrubbing the internet for help with this and have not found a solution anywhere!
I have a home with 1920s windows. The glass is a little wavy, but it’s still a light effect (they’re a little too young yet for major waves). Today I noticed a hairline crack in the window that appeared out of nowhere! :/ The crack is probably about 4 inches long, but I don’t feel texture on the inside OR outside of the window, so I’m not sure what happened.
That said, I have planned to restore these windows for some time (and got Scott’s book as encouragement), and this is the first crack I’ve seen. Is there a way to repair it, or at least keep the crack from spreading? My windows are double-hung – three panels on top, one large on the bottom (bottom pane is the one cracked; that pane measures 27.5″ wide and 29.5″ tall).
I know the best bet is probably to replace the pane and use the existing one to cut down for replacement of a couple smaller square panels from a different section of my house, but I’m trying to minimize any spreading (or, dare I dream, to repair it entirely). Any tips would be appreciated!
From Franklin, TN – Corrin
I have wavy glass from a window from the early 1900 in Toronto, Ontario. Any interest of idea of how much should I offer them for? My estimate is 40″ x 40″, four pieces. Will remeasure.
If you still have this glass & can get it cut to 20″ or 28″ for shipping, we’re interested.
I can them get them cut down to the size we need: 10″x14″; 1/8″ thickness
I have approximately 32 sashes of cylinder glass ( waves and inclusions) that I have removed from a turn of the century home in central Illinois. I do understand and appreciate the love of older homes and have personally restored over a dozen Victorian homes in our area. Some homes though have very little historic or architectural value and therefore, for efficiency purposes, the windows must be changed for resale. The sizes of the actual glass vary from the largest being 44″ x 30″ down to 26″ x 28″. Not sure how to ship so I would prefer to have local pickup but might meet someone halfway for the right road trip and price. Interested? Text me at 217-840-2105 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
I live in Louisville, KY. I am doing a renovation of a beautiful Italianate mansion. I’m not restoring as the insides are pretty much clear/blank besides floors and woodwork, which I’ve saved. I HAVE been good about the windows and am about to be stuck manufacturing some larger pieces of antique glass. I am not at home and won’t be until Thursday – and I’m not sure how big the panes are in the largest windows. I’m HOPEFUL they are 44″ and smaller. The windows are 8 or nine feet tall with 4 panes each – so it’s going to be close. I’m interested in your windows or at least some of them. Plenty of cracked panes to replace in this house. And I’m building a new garage with historic brick and will want to use old windows as well. Please email me at email@example.com.
I need a piece 28×6. How much would the cost be!
FOR ANYONE WHO MAY BE INTERESTED. JUST SALVAGED WINDOWS FROM A 1900 victorian style house. Wavy Glass. Looking for dimensions now. Window panes are in original sash as well. Looking for a home or else these windows will go as trash
I need replacement wavy glass measuring 24” x 30 1/8”. Also need a replacement sash with wavy glass, sash measures 28” x 34 1/4”.
What size? Looking for some BIG windows.
I am looking for wavy glass my house was built in 1910 and I live in west texas so its hard for me to find this kind of glass in this area I need a piece 27×44 anyone have any for sale
I have 26 – 34” x34” wavy old glass panes still in the cedar sashes. From a home built in early to mid 1800,s in Lewes Delaware . It was an old ship Captains home. , if any one is interested please email or call me. Fastfive5@icloud.com or 239-940-0682. Gonna sell as one lot .