Q&A / 

Glass Block Window Design

Glass Block Window Design Suggestions and a Funny Story

Do you have a window on the side of your house that faces a neighbors house? Do you feel like a fish in a bowl? Why not replace that window with wavy glass block? You can throw away the window shade and curtain! Abundant light will shine in, but your neighbor's watchful gaze will be permanently blocked.

How would you like to build a contemporary wet bar? Why not use glass block as the base for the bar? Backlight it with colored light bulbs for a dynamic look.

What about that dark spot between your kitchen countertop and the wall cabinets? You can brighten it with block windows!

Room partitions can be built using block windows. They allow natural light to travel uninterrupted from room to room. Mix and match block designs within the same wall for an interesting look.

As crazy as it sounds, how about block panels as the balustrade in a stairwell? You can build staggered wood boxes that will accept the panels between the handrail and the stairs.

Shower and tub enclosures are great places for block windows.

Don't let corners or angles stop you! Outside corners, endblocks, 45 degree blocks and hexagonal blocks are all available.

You may enjoy this story. A few years ago, I built a very interesting room addition on top of a structural-steel frame. This room addition was similar to a deck and it extended over a driveway apron for a three-car garage. The structural-steel frame was needed to support the weight of the addition.

The addition was really a giant master bathroom. The architect had selected a wavy glass block for a large full-length window in the shower stall. This glass-block window faced the woods behind the house.

One day while I was installing the tile, the wife stopped by to check on the job progress. Not only were we building a room addition, but we were also rehabbing about 90 percent of the entire house. It was impractical to live in the house while the work progressed.

This woman had a marvelous sense of humor as I had discovered while working on the job. While I was inside the shower area working on the tile she remarked, "Wow, the glass-block window sure let's in lots of light!" I agreed and replied, "Oh yes it does. By the way, who selected the glass pattern?"

This glass block was smooth glass, but the thickness varied so when you looked through it things were really fuzzy and distorted.

She replied, "Oh, the architect did. My husband and I thought it would really match the 1950's style of the home."

I responded, "Well, we love it when the architect specifies this glass block." She said, "Why?"

Keeping a perfectly straight face, I said, "This is a unique glass block. When you stand close to it and look through it, things are fuzzy. But when you stand back, like in your woods, it acts like a magnifying glass. I wonder if the manufacturer has ever realized that?"

Her jaw dropped and eyes widened as she no doubt was thinking about the peep show she was going to offer to any and all who happened to be looking at the addition while she showered. I let her astonishment bake for about a minute or so and then said, "Gosh Carol, I was just kidding!"

She got very embarrassed because I fooled her. We remain friends to this day. Her house is only two away from mine!

Author's Note: We've received other questions with similar problems or questions. Here's one from Lena K. of Rockville, MD, regarding basement replacement windows.

"Our basement windows leak air as well as water when snow melts. The house was built in 1965 and the windows seem to be from that time. They are below the ground level with wells dug out around them. They are set directly into concrete blocks. I looked at different replacement window manufactures and installers, and none of the ones I saw offer specific windows for basements. Do you have any suggestions? (We aren't planning on doing the replacement ourselves). Thank you."

Companion Articles:  Glass & Acrylic Blocks Do Many Things, Glass Block Installation, Glass Block, Glass Block Manufacturers, Glass Block Greenhouse

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