Figuring out a glass block shower can be a pain in the rear! If you’re using a contractor they may be vaguely familiar with this type of wall system – or, if they are not, they will try to steer you to a “standard” shower enclosure since it’s what they know how to do. But, if you have your heart set on the benefits of a low maintenance, high privacy glass block shower and want to make it happen – no matter how difficult it is to figure out – you’ll want to read this article.
Well I’m here to tell you a glass block shower doesn’t require a brain surgeon to design and install (and my wife would agree I’m not a brain surgeon – or at least I don’t have the listening skills of one)! I’ve been working with this product since 1985 (wow- that makes me old) and have learned a few “tricks” along the way about glass block design. In this article, my goal is to help you identify the top 6 glass block wall shapes. Then we’ll look at each shape (I’ll give you some “out-there” names for them) and look at the strengths and weaknesses of each so you can wrap your arms around which is best for you. Just to let you know I’ve saved the most popular design for last (but don’t jump ahead because the other 5 designs may be better for your project) So let’s get ‘er done and figure this project out!
Marilyn called me in tears. She said, “Mike, my glass block shower has become a nightmare. These idiot contractors don’t know what they’re doing. The grout joints are lousy, the shower pan and walls don’t match up. Can you help me?”
I wish I could tell you this was the first time I’ve received a call from someone whose glass block shower project was not going well. You may be wondering, “Why is that?” The biggest reason is most contractors (and DIY homeowners) have not done this type of project before. They may be experienced in bathroom remodeling– but a glass block shower (a material you can’t cut to fit like tile) requires a game plan to make sure all the elements (the shower pan, glass block wall and interior shower wall panels or tile) work together seamlessly.
In this article my goal is to not only give you the 5 reasons you don’t want to build a glass block shower without a plan, but provide you with inside tips to make sure you get it done right the first time (note – I think I can help with this because I’ve been supplying and installing glass block showers since what feels like back when Moses was a boy. I started with this product line in 1985 – when I had more hair and a mustache). I don’t want you to be the next “Marilyn” I mentioned above or for your project to resemble the quote below.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
How do you know when your clothes or home have gone out of style and you need a makeover – BAD? You may ask a trusted consultant for their honest opinion. Someone who will not beat around the bush. I remember doing this during my early days as a professional speaker. I approached Danielle Turcola (a national image consultant) about how I was dressing and she said, “Mike – it’s time to ditch those button down shirts. It’s way too middle-manager looking for a professional speaker.” While it hurt to get Danielle’s “give it to you straight” advice she was spot on. I listened.
In many cases we’re oblivious to our own fashion – whether it’s in clothes (do you have any family members who are stuck in the 70’s with long hair and groovy outfits?), or in home décor (the wallpaper in their homes looks like Marcia and Greg Brady could show up any moment!).
Such was the case for Lilly Epstein of Orlando Florida when she brought in Interior Designer Laurie Lake with Floor to Ceiling (a contractor and interior design firm) in Winter Garden Florida. Laurie came originally to look at upgrading one of Lilly’s floors. While Lilly’s home was hot (it won the Best Home in the 1989 Orlando Parade of Homes) it’s current décor was stuck in a bit of a fashion time warp. As Lilly said to me, “I didn’t realize how dated the home had become until I saw the before and after remodeling pictures!” The reality is time moves on but sometimes we become oblivious to our own surrounding and sense of fashion (I would still be wearing those button down shirts if Danielle had not set me straight!).
If you look at your home today is it looking a little long in the tooth? I can still think back to the “June Cleaver Kitchen” my wife and I inherited as a young couple when we bought our first home (many people today probably don’t even know who June Cleaver is!).
Do you need help transforming your “much-too-long-absent-from-remodeling” home into one which looks like it belongs in a magazine (and not a magazine from 20 years ago sitting in your old dentist’s office?). If so, the time may be right to enter the “5 step program for non-remodelaholics” (i.e. those people who have waited too long to update, redecorate and remodel their homes). Join the meeting – now in session- to get 5 key steps to remodel your home out of a fashion time warp.
When you think about a garage window does the term elegant come to mind? If I’m a betting man (which I’m not) the answer is no way. The words most often associated with garage windows are nasty, bug-infested, leaky and downright disgusting!
Most garage windows are included in a home to either make the front of the home architecturally correct (and symmetrical) and/or to add natural light (which can be very helpful if you have a workbench in the space) or to provide ventilation.
In most cases the garage window is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of your home windows – it gets no respect and is generally an afterthought. The question is can a garage window become something which actually enhances the look and value of your home – while still providing privacy, light transmission and a secure place for valuable tools and vehicles? The answer is yes if you think “outside the blocks” like Sean Ryan of Farmington Michigan.
In this article I’ll share with you why Sean decided to design a glass block window which was so elegant he would actually choose to use it as a backdrop for his daughters (Leslie and Kelly) prom picture (see above). Learn below why Sean decided do this project and his 5 step process to transform his old garage window.
For some reason the design, construction and trends surrounding glass block showers appears to be a mystery to many people. As a guy whose been in the supply and installation of glass block shower projects for close to 30 years this product is not nearly as hard to figure out as many people make it out to be. My goal with this article is to dispel the myths, mysteries and downright false statements circulating the Internet about glass block. I’ll not only take a look at 7 myths but provide you with winning strategies to create a contemporary glass block wall project which will be built to last and designed to inspire.
Did you know glass block shower walls come in two thicknesses (4” and a thinner 3 1/8” series)? If not – you’re not alone. While the thinner glass block walls were introduced only three years ago the vast majority (about 90% of my customer’s at this time) are choosing the slim line product. In this article I’ll explore 7 tips to help you make the best glass block shower wall thickness selection for your project.
Since glass blocks cannot be cut it is critical to lay out and design a glass block shower before installing a base or making decisions on whether to use a door or a walk in design. The article below details 5 tricks to design and lay out your glass block shower for maximum success.
Curved glass block shower wall using curved blocks
The process to design a curved glass block wall is not rocket science! Yes – you heard that right. Many people want the benefits of a curved glass block wall (which can be less costly and sturdier than custom curved and bent flat glass) but they are unfamiliar with the design, fabrication and installation approaches required to create a curved glass block wall.
In the article you’ll learn where to use this type of wall, how the product, fabrication and installation approaches in “tight curves” vary from “sweeping curves,” andalso identify unique ways to personalize your wall.
Inside view of shower with custom glass block wall and decorative cocobolo wood trim in a Texas remodel
When Debi and her husband George were looking to remodel their small Texas bathroom their goals were to combine an easy to clean and user friendly walk in shower with and to use unique wood elements. In order to use every available inch of space the couple removed a wall to pick up 2′ in width (so the final dimension of the space was 7.5′ x 7.5′ – see pictures during demolition below) and used a pocket door to help with space restrictions.
Bathroom during the demolition process – plumbing was kept in the same location
The finished bathroom was a stylish door-less shower highlighted with a one of a kind glass block design with several unique uses of durable species of wood in the trim, ceiling and cabinetry. Learn more about this project below.
The Walk in Shower
As Debi said, “We were looking to convert our little bity bathroom into a larger walk in shower. We did not want to incur any costs associated with moving the plumbing, but wanted to invest our money in this remodel on high quality finished materials that would last – and also include the wood features that George loves!”
This focus on high quality, low maintenance and stylish products resulted in the following selections:
Decorative glass block shower wall with cocobolo trim – Working with Lillie Burton from Innovate Building Solutions 3 glass block patterns (Vue, Decora and Seascapes) were combined with a “sunset” colored glass blocks and decorative glass tile blocks to create a distinctive design. The wall was trimmed with cocobolo wood – which is an oily, dense wood which has red, brown and white colors naturally inherent in the wood. Wow – what a cool combination! (note – yes it is fine to use this cocobolo trim in a wet shower environment due to the dense nature of this species of wood).
Decorative colored glass tile block wall using decora vue and seascapes patterns
Close up of cocobolo trim surrounding glass block shower wall
Happy Floors 12” x 24″ porcelain tiles in Bambu Beige– Debi just loves the abstract look of the porcelain tiles which were laid horizontally from the floor to the ceiling. The big sized tiles are not only nice and stylish to look at, but they result in fewer and smaller grout joints.
12 x 24 Happy Floor Tile Bambu Beige in shower walls
Teak flooring used on the ceiling – This room takes on a stunning and warm appearance with the use of teak flooring on the ceiling of the entire bathroom.
Teak ceiling from inside of shower
The Use of Custom Wood
The cool use of durable and decorative wood does not stop at the shower. In the main portion of the bathroom George built a custom bathroom cabinet and vanity with ribbon wood and birch trim. The vanity used a Kohler ledges undermount bathroom sink in a ember color. The cabinets were topped off with granite.
Ribbon wood and beech trim cabinet with rock door knobs
Custom vanity with ribbon wood and beech trim and a Kohler Ledges sink
In addition George made a custom towel rack that looks like a small ladder – what a fun and functional use of wood!
Custom towel rack by George
While Debi and George were very hands on with this project (creating the cabinets, towel stand, glass block wall installation and final wood trim details) – they also had help in the final result. The construction and build out was done by Kitchen and Bath Wizards and the glass blocks were provided by Innovate Building Solutions.
What do you think about Debi and Georges’ walk in shower? What experience do you have with using wood products in a bathroom environment. Please comment and ask questions below.
Learn More About Frosted Block Windows
To learn more about the frosted protect all glass block windows or get a free estimate on a glass block window, wall or shower project visit or call span itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”> 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 (513) 742-5900) of Cincinnati or Dayton and Akron (330) 633-2900).
Glass block wall design with Italian inspired designs
Exterior fluted glass block wall design
If you look at design trends in floor or wall tiles you need to first look to the European markets (and Italy in particular) for inspiration. In the glass block wall industry the drivers of style, texture and design leadership are also being driven by the Italians.
Most of what people are used to seeing in the United States are glass blocks of standard shapes and sizes that have smooth flat faces on the front of the glass units. While these blocks may be mass produced and are cost effective they may not inspire the wow factor in a contemporary or modernistic design project.
Well leave it to the Italians once again to innovate (and in this case these cool designs are now becoming available in the United States markets) with unique glass block designs.
Some of the new designs available today include:
Trapezoidal glass blocks that are shaped in a pyramid form to create a sleek design.
Exterior fluted glass blocks (called Doric) for residential or commercial interior walls which have a unique texture to the outside of the block.
Angular (called Fiero Milano) glass blocks that appear to jut out from the wall – if these don’t capture your attention nothing will!
The good thing is if you’re looking for inspiration these blocks are now becoming available in the U.S. markets.
What do you think about the look of these blocks? Please give your thoughts below.