How to Create an Inexpensive DIY Faux Leaded Glass Window 

Our 2005’s builder-grade home has the most builder-grade windows EVER, so when we decided to install a transom window in my husband’s office I knew I wanted to find a way to DIY faux leaded glass window! I love the look of leaded glass and how it brings an old-world charm to any space! In this post, I’ll break down how you can get this look without having to order a custom transom window.

Woman standing against white wall holding a leaded glass window

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

A Faux-Stained Glass Window for Our Office

When we moved into our lovely craftsman in 2021, one of our goals was to add character to every space. My style is a mix of modern and traditional/vintage style- also known as TRANSITIONAL. I wanted to find ways to incorporate vintage and traditional pieces into a home that is newer construction.

One aspect of our home that needed to change immediately upon moving in was our office space, pictured below.

In the 2000s, a lot of homes featured this little ”formal” living room area in the front of the house. When we looked at the house, we knew we’d turn that space into an office for my husband (he works from home). This meant we needed doors to keep the noise level down while he’s on calls.

Straight forward right? NO. This was at the height of covid and this small renovation took seemingly forever. 

Green office with white arched opening

After much deliberation, we decided the best option was to square off this arched opening and add French doors with a transom window. We were able to pull off this entire reno ourselves last year and are thrilled with how our french doors turned out!

Here’s How We Installed Custom French Doors With a Vintage Look:

Once I knew we’d be adding a transom window, I immediately envisioned the old leaded glass windows you see in Victorian-era farmhouses. So simple and elegant. I thought this would be a great way to add some vintage vibes to our 2005’s home. 

Image from Meg Duernsten of a leaded glass window in a Victorian home
Photo from Meg Duernsten

Once we began looking into the price of a custom transom window in the style I wanted, I quickly realized it was VERY pricey for real stained glass and this diy project was born!

Custom Stained-Glass Window Vs. DIY Faux Stained Glass Window

As much as I absolutely love the look of a custom leaded glass window, I simply could not justify the massive price tag. The price ranged from $500-$1,000 dollars or more! Since our price limit for the whole door project was $2,000.00, I needed the price to be much lower.

I started researching possible ways to DIY a leaded glass window and was ecstatic when I found a method to get this leaded glass look for far cheaper.

Rest assured, you can get this stained glass look without paying a fortune! This entire DIY was under $300!

DIY Faux Leaded Glass Tutorial

The first thing you need to do to create a faux stained glass window is purchase your supplies.

Materials to Create a DIY Leaded Glass Window:

During my research, I found a fantastic product called Gallery Glass. It’s affordable, easy to use, and a great way to create a leaded glass window! This product can be applied on an existing window OR you can also apply it on a plexiglass panel.

Since we did not have an existing window for the transom, we opted to buy a sheet of plexiglass and cut it to the size of the transom window frame.

Here are all the materials we used to create our window:

diy faux leaded glass window

We purchased a large sheet of plexiglass from Lowe’s. I wanted a thicker, more substantial plexi so it’s indistinguishable from real glass. We have extra glass left over, but we plan to use it for a transom window in our dining room eventually, so we are ok with this.

diy faux leaded glass window

Gallery Glass Supplies:

These are the products I used to get the antique window look.

The black bottle is liquid-leading which is essentially black puffy paint.

The white bottle is the glass antiquing treatment which is the product that gives your window a pixelated glass effect. This step is optional. You can always keep the glass crystal clear with no glass effect treatment OR you can get a frosted glass option as well. I wanted a very subtle antiqued glass look so the window color paint worked perfectly.

diy faux leaded glass window

These instant lead lines made this project way easier. They are essentially rubber strips with an adhesive backing. You wouldn’t have to use these if you felt confident you could trace the window lines perfectly with your puff paint, but I felt like they made my lines appear straighter and more substantial. 

The stained glass tutorial I read said you can make your pattern with these strips and then fuse JUST the seams with the liquid-leading black paint. 

I don’t recommend this. 

After experimenting with it, it looked terrible because the materials aren’t the exact same color and texture. Trace your entire pattern with the liquid leading. I’ll give better examples of this later.

Creating a DIY Faux Leaded Glass Window: Step by Step

Step 1: Cut Plexiglass to Size

First, cut the plexiglass to size. (Obviously, skip this step if you are using an existing window or piece of glass).

You can cut plexiglass with a plexiglass cutter or a table saw. My husband helped me cut this piece down on our table saw. We left the wrapper on the plexiglass to avoid scratching it. Once your glass panel is cut to the right size you are ready to outline your leaded glass pattern on the window! 

diy faux leaded glass window

Step 2: Select and Trace Your Glass Design On the Window

The next step is to trace your leaded glass pattern onto the window.

First, make sure you know what pattern you want for your window. There are many different styles of leaded glass depending on the time period you are after.

I wanted something very simple and tudor-esque to add a vintage look but I also didn’t want an overly ornate look in my builder-grade home.  Kristen S. from Store Front Life has a great breakdown of different leaded glass patterns from her site. 

diy faux leaded glass window
Photo from Store Front Life

While all of these are gorgeous, the one I zeroed in on is the regent pattern.

One method for outlining your window pattern is to print a segment on a piece of paper and trace it onto the window with a sharpie. 

Thankfully, I have a perfectionistic husband who traced the pattern out on the glass using a speed square, ruler and permanent marker. Because we went with the regent pattern, there weren’t any mosiac design elements so this was actually very fast and easy.

He traced it a few times with the wrapper still on and once we had a feel for how the pattern was looking, we removed the wrapper and traced the pattern on the whole length of the window.

diy faux leaded glass window

Step 3: Cover Your Outline with Gallery Glass Leading Strips

After tracing the design on the window perfectly, start the process of applying the leading strips. The adhesive backing makes it so easy to apply. I used a ruler to make sure my lines were perfectly straight and then cut them to size with a utility knife.

The strips aren’t hard to cut but ensure you have a cutting mat or safe surface so you don’t damage your table/work surface.

diy faux leaded glass window

Step 4: Trace Your Outline With Gallery Glass Liquid Leading

After you have covered all the lines of your pattern with the adhesive strips, it’s time to cover ALL the lines with liquid-leading paint.

This is probably the longest part of the process. 

The liquid-leading product comes in a squeeze bottle and looks just like black acrylic paint except for a little bit thicker. I experimented a bit with how thick I wanted my lines to look and decided it looked better with a slightly “juicier” line versus a minimal line.

This paint is very thick and made my hand tired after squeezing the bottle for a while. To help the paint go on more easily, I would wipe the tip of the paint bottle after every few lines with a baby wipe. The moisture from the wipe thinned out the paint a little and made the process much faster.

I also used wet wipes to clean up excess paint that got on the glass (wet wipes are what I have as a mum of 3 but, hey, they worked great!).

Only one coat of the liquid leading was needed and then I left the window to dry.

The liquid lead took a long time to dry so I had to do one side of the window one day and the other the next. 

diy faux leaded glass window

As I said before, the liquid lead texture is like puff paint (a little gummy even after drying). I was careful to avoid bumping or smashing the paint. After the liquid leading had dried I used my hair dryer to blow off any lint/fuzz that had got on the glass and then a little glass cleaner in the window segments to remove all smudges.

Step 5: Apply Glass Effect Product

Next, apply the antiquing treatment to the glass. I did not want a very frosted/pixelated glass. My goal was a very subtle, antiqued look so that the lead lines looked more fused to the glass.

The glass effect product is basically mod podge. It smelled and looked just like white glue. I experimented a bit with this product in the corner of the window and found for the look I wanted, less is more! 

To get the look of my window, squirt a very small amount of the white solution into the window segments and use a foam brush to spread it evenly.

Blonde woman painting a transom window

Next, use your finger to gently tap and smudge the wet solution. This makes it look more natural as it removes actual brush strokes from the solution. Experiment a bit with how smudgy you want it to look. Be sure to get rid of any air bubbles that may form.

Blonde woman wearing gray shirt standing in kitchen smudging paint on a transom window

The white solution dries quickly. I only did one coat of this, but keep in mind I did the entire treatment to both sides of the window so I didn’t want to overdo it with the frosted glass look. 

I’m very happy with the results I have. You can still see through the window and it allows light to filter through but looks much more authentic. 

After applying the glass antiquing treatment and letting it totally dry, use a damp cloth to wipe each little window segment to remove any dust that has settled. I did this the next day to be sure all my lead lines were totally dry and the glass had cured.

The End Result: My DIY Faux Leaded Glass Window!

diy faux leaded glass window

I can’t believe I made this window and how easy/affordable it ended up being! Just to recap, the total price for this project:

  • Plexiglass – $175
  • Liquid Leading – $9.25
  • Glass Antiquing Solution – $11.26
  • Instant Lead Lines – $16.08 x 2 = $32.16(Because my window was so long I ended up needing a second pack of these).

Total = $227.67

Compared to a custom leaded glass window at around $700, I’m pretty happy with this! I also have enough plexiglass to make a matching window for a dining room transom. If you are planning on doing this treatment to a window you already have in your home, the price would be insanely cheap.

diy faux leaded glass window

Final Thoughts on Creating a DIY Faux Leaded Glass Window:

Overall, I’m very happy with how this window turned out. I think it’s a great solution to avoid ordering a super expensive custom piece.

That said, I don’t think I’d do this treatment on a window that is accessible to my kids because they would pick at the paint and destroy it super quickly. For a transom though, or any window out of reach it’s truly indistinguishable and a great option.

DIY transom leaded glass window


How to make a fake stained glass window?

There are a few different methods to creating a fake stained glass window. The easiest option I’ve found is using gallery glass products to create a faux glass look.

How do you paint glass so it looks like stained glass?

Gallery Glass has a few different products such as glass effect paint and frosted glass paint that helps the glass look antiqued and like authentic stained glass.

What do you need for faux stained glass?

Gallery Glass carries all the products you need to create a simple faux stained glass window like the one above!

Can you paint plexiglass to look like stained glass?

Plexiglass worked perfectly for this DIY faux stained glass window.

What questions do you have about this super easy diy faux leaded glass window? Would you ever do something like this in your home?

Want more Easy DIYS?

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  1. Wow wow wow. I have been drooling over your transom windows (they were top of my inspirational images for the exact windows I want for our new build) and I had NO IDEA they were a DIY! I’ve also priced out the windows and was shocked how expensive they can be, although it makes sense… custom handmade work deserves its price.
    Thank you for sharing this!!! so excited to try it!

  2. I love this and can not wait to try it.
    If you don’t mind what color paint is the office? I love it as well.

  3. Hi! Did you use black liquid leading? It looks like a charcoal gray in some of your photos, so I was just curious! Is there anyway to get links to the exact products you used?

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