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My Customer’s Top 5 Fears of a Glass Block Walk In Shower

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

Doorless glass block shower in Martinez California with a curved wall

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.

glass block shower wall with thinner curved glass blocks

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!).

Anchors to secure a glass block shower wall

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.

Installing a prefabricated glass block shower is like putting together lego blocks

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).

Fear 5 curved shower solid surface base

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.

 

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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).

 

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Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

Comments (4)

  • Mike Foti

    |

    Bill – thanks for your question. While we don’t install in Tuscon Arizona we do sell some products and systems which will make this project easier for a qualified contractor (and can help you with some services to find this contractor). I will plan to call you today to help further.

    Reply

  • Bill Mertens

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    do you guys work in Arizona? or can you recommend a contractor in Tucson, Arizona? my phone 520-449-0713 thanks

    Reply

  • Mike Foti

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    Gary – a glass block shower can be made for the 58 x 27 space – but I think it would be too tight for a curved glass block wall. You could do a straight wall with a door though. We can also help you with a shower pan for the glass block wall. I will look to follow up with you via email.

    Reply

  • Gary Gelbman

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    I’m a contractor with a customer who wants glass block shower. her space is small 27W X 58L can a curved wall work in that small an area? Can a pre made pan be made for that space? If I build my own pan the curbs usually have slight tilt in. For the block the curb should be level , correct? thanks

    Reply

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