How to Install Glass Block

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Who says you can't live in a glass house? Glass blocks may be square or rectangular and can be used in any non-load-bearing wall where you want more light with privacy. Here are a few steps to help you install a glass block and let more light into your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass Blocks
  • Work Gloves
  • Sponges
  • Wood Sealer
  • Scouring Pad
  • 1-by-2 Boards
  • Caulking Guns
  • Hammers
  • Silicone Caulk
  • Trowels

Frame Installation

  • Install 1-by-2 board as framing for the blocks.

  • Nail it along the center of the space so that the blocks will cover the front and the back when they are set in place.

  • Put two coats of sealer on the wood to protect it from moisture.

  • Let it dry completely.

Mortar Installation

  • Bend the panel anchors into an L shape, with the short leg at about 3 inches.

  • Nail the panel anchors to the frame with the short leg parallel to the floor. Add a new panel anchor every third row.

  • Set a row of blocks with plastic spacers.

  • Follow the manufacturer's directions and mix the glass-block mortar.

  • Use a mortar knife to put a layer of mortar on the base or sill. You'll know you're using enough if the mortar squeezes out when you place a block on it.

  • Put the spacer into place, then slide the first glass block in.

  • Put a layer of mortar on the side of the next block and press it into place. Repeat for the entire row, then make sure the row is level.

  • Scoop up the squeezed-out mortar with a trowel, then wipe the glass with a damp sponge before starting the next row.

  • Finish three rows, then lay a line of mortar across the top.

  • Set a wire stabilizer on top of the mortar to reinforce the wall.

  • Set another layer of mortar on top of the stabilizer, put the spacers in place and continue laying the blocks.

  • Let the mortar dry for 24 to 36 hours, then caulk the outside edges to keep moisture out.

Using Prefabricated Panels

  • Lay a continuous bead of silicone caulk around the entire opening.

  • Center the panel and, holding it level, set it into the opening.

  • Tap roofing nails around the panel to hold it in place.

  • Slide a drip cap over the top if the panel is being used in a shower or bathtub.

  • Install the trim around the glass and enjoy!

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean up excess mortar with a dry scouring pad.
  • Don't put mortar on the jambs or over the spacers.
  • Be aware that preassembled glass block panels are very heavy.
  • Don't put glass blocks in areas where they will be required to support part of your home's structure. They are not designed for bearing loads.

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