Mary was practically in tears when she called me. She had seen all the pretty pictures on Pinterest and the Internet of glass block walk in showers and now after talking to her friends and her bathroom remodeling contractor she was encountering one fear after another. Intellectually she understood the acronym about fear (which is False Evidence Appearing Real), but she had no good answers to the following concerns which were coming up:
- “I think glass blocks will be too heavy for the floor” her husband Bob said.
- “Don’t you worry about a glass block wall tipping over?” (Joan – her best friend).
- “I’ve never installed a glass block wall before.” (her favorite remodeling contractor Rico).
- “Isn’t water going to come out of that shower if it doesn’t have a door?” (Joan).
- “I’m really not sure how to make a curved glass block wall work with the shower pans I normally create.” (Rico)
The article below details the facts I was able to share with Mary and her contractor Rico to turn her vision of a glass block walk in shower into reality.
Fear 1 – I think the glass blocks are too heavy for the floor.
The facts – I shared with Mary that while standard glass block (which are 4” thick) weigh in around 6 lb. per unit a glass block shower wall actually weighs less than half the weight of an adult man standing on the floor. I also mentioned the wall can be lighter (and you get more room inside the shower) by choosing thinner (3 1/8” series) blocks which are 20% lighter.
Fear 2 – Don’t you think that glass block wall has a chance of tipping over?
The facts – Since most walk in showers with glass blocks are only anchored to one supporting wall many people have shared Mary’s concerns before. The reality is with the Protect All glass block shower system vinyl spacers are siliconed between both the horizontal and vertical joints and special anchors (which are placed every 2 courses at 16” intervals) keep the wall secure. As a funny side note I told Mary that we’ve also supplied glass block walls in many bar and I’ve yet to get a call from a bar owner saying that Fred through Louie through the glass block wall – can you come and repair it for me (ha! Ha!).
Fear 3 – I’ve never installed a glass block wall before.
The facts – When Mary told me Rico (her contractor) was worried about doing this job and I might need to “talk him off the ledge” I knew I had been here before! In fact 90% of the people who install a glass block shower system are doing it for the first time. I suggested Mary check out the glass block wall installation videos which show a “Lego-type” installation system using prefabricated glass block sections. Panels are stacked one on top of another (like Lego blocks) and anchored to the wall. This same method is not only DIY friendly – but it is the same approach used by contractors who install glass blocks on a daily basis.
Fear 4 – Isn’t the water going to come out?
The facts – Most people prefer a walk in shower to eliminate the hassle and nastiness of cleaning the bottom of a framed shower door and the worries of tripping over a raised entry curb. I explained the reason most glass block walk in showers use a curved (or angled) wall is not only for the classy appearance – but the shape helps to direct water back to the drain. A curved wall design makes it possible to create a doorless shower in a space as small as 60” wide.
Fear 5 – I’m really not sure how to make a shower pan which will work with a curved glass block wall.
The facts – Rico’s concern is valid and not to be taken lightly. Trying to make a site-built shower pan which will follow the exact curvature of the glass block wall is not an easy job for someone who has not done it before (and a leaky pan could have disastrous consequences). Fortunately there are two different shower pans available as a kit which include prefabricated matching wall panels.
Solid surface shower pan for glass blocks
The first (and easiest to work with) is a solid surface pan. They are available in 60 colors, are grout free, waterproof and the drain can be placed wherever you want it to be (this can save Mary plumbing costs and Rico the hassle of moving the drain).
Ready for tile shower pan for glass blocks
The second option is a waterproof ready for tile base. This unit is simply thin set to the subfloor and small mosaic style tiles are put on the floor of the pan. The glass block wall sections will be set on the prebuilt shower curb. It is recommended to use a solid surface curb cap to finish the top of the curb before setting the glass blocks down (note: this curb cap can be expensive but a good strategy is to go to a local solid surface countertop supplier and ask if they have any remnant pieces to reduce costs).
Do you have any fears about a glass block curved walk in shower? Comment or call the numbers below for design input or a free estimate on an installation or nationwide supply of a glass block shower kit.
Call Innovate Building Solutions on a nationwide basis (877-668-5888) or for a local project their divisions including Columbus Glass Block (614-252-5888), Cleveland Glass Block (216-531-6363), West Side Glass Block (216-398-1020) or Mid America Glass Block in Akron (330-633-2900).
Tags: doorless shower, glass block kits, glass block shower, glass block shower kit, glass block shower videos, glass block video, glass block walk in shower, Protect All Glass Block Shower, shower base for glass blocks, shower pans for glass blocks, walk in shower
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