Glass Block showers have recently begun a comeback as a stylish building material. Glass block is both attractive and economical. If a bathroom remodel or design in your NJ home is in the works, look into this option. It’s a great way to save some money without sacrificing a stylish look. When the block is mortared, it creates strong walls that are impervious to water and is easy to maintain. Glass block can be bought in a variety of sizes and shapes so you can build a custom size to most specifications. One of the biggest features of using this material is the transparency of the glass. The sun shines bright in New Jersey so that sunshine can be brought in the shower stall. This is a definite perk. There doesn’t necessarily have to be dark corners in the shower as there are in other showers.
It will take a professional about 5 days to complete this project. These 5 days will include; plumbing and framing, concrete work, glass block laying and tile setting. So if you plan on doing the job yourself, you should allow 9 days (depending on your skill level).
Laying Glass Block
You will need plastic spacers to use between the block when mortaring them. It’s the same basic idea as when tiling. The spacers provide a uniform look while taking the guess work out of measuring each space. Usually ¼ inch spacers are the norm but you can choose whatever you like. Laying glass block will take patience and attention to detail. The end product has a direct correlation to the amount of attention given to your work. It’s no different than any other job. You can’t use spacers with corner blocks. You will have to lay them freehand. Using shims will definitely help.
Setting the First Row
Just like laying brick, pavers, or tile, the first row is critical to keeping the rows above it straight. You will need to lay the mixed mortar on the sill plate that the block will sit on. Go to the glass block dealer that you bought the materials from and tell them you need a large bag of mortar for the glass block. Do not mix the entire bag at one time, use about 1/3 of it and mix it to a “pudding” consistency. Load your trowel up with mortar and lay ½ inch on the sill and begin at a corner block setting your row. Tap the blocks down with the back end of your trowel. Continue setting the glass block using your level each time you add a block. The longer the level you have, the more accurate your line of blocks will be.
After the first row is set and the mortar joints filled, lay a bed of mortar on top of them for the second row. Before laying the second row of block, cut a strip of reinforcement wire (also found at the glass block dealer) the length of the run and press it into the mortar bed you just put down. Making sure the reinforcing wire is embedded in the mortar mix, begin to lay the second row of block. At the end of the second row, use a special steel anchor (looks like a perforated piece of sheet metal) and lay one end into the mortar bed where the reinforcement mesh is and screw the other end into your 2×4 end support. These anchors serve as “tie-ins” to keep the stacked block securely fastened. Your mortar will hide the metal anchor so you will not be able to see it. Repeat the anchoring process every 2 rows that are layed.
Only go up half the height of your shower the 1st day and then do the second the 2nd day. This will allow the bottom half to dry before adding additional weight on top.
This article is by no means the full process required to complete a glass block shower but it gives you the basics and a strong knowledge base to build from. If the project seems too complex for you, call in a friend or a professional contractor in At; anta if you can afford it. With time, patience, and perseverance you can do it.