The question has come up repeatedly – what’s the best way to finish the end and top of my glass block shower wall? The answer – like many things in life is it depends…..it depends on budget, the look desired, maintenance considerations and access to the right product suppliers. Let’s look at the 5 most popular options for finishing these walls.
- Option 1 – Finished end and double end glass blocks – This option is by far the most popular finishing approach since it creates an “all glass” look and the bull-nosed edges of the finished glass blocks are easy to clean. These blocks come in 8 x 8 x 3, 4 x 8 x 3, 6 x 8 x 4, and 8 x 8 x 4 sizes which provide a good degree of design flexibility. The double end glass blocks only come in 8 x 8 x 3 and 8 x 8 x 4 sizes (which requires walls which stair step down to be designed in 8” increments only – which can be limiting).
- One design advantage of glass block ends and double ends is they can be colored, frosted or even have decorative glass tiles added to them for style. While they are more expensive than standard blocks they can often be cheaper than finishing with solid surface or granite materials. A drawback is there are not finishing blocks which can be used on the top of a curved glass block wall.
- Option 2 – Glass style caps – The glass style caps are specifically made to fit over straight, curved, 45 or 90 degree angle glass blocks which make them a perfect option to finish the top of any wall (even if it’s radiused!). These glass caps (which are about 1/8” thick) are available in cool grey, snow white and biscuit colors. These units are adhered to the glass block wall with construction adhesive and are a very cost effective approach for the top of a wall. Their drawback is they don’t have an all glass block look and are not made to match other counter or trim materials in the bathroom.
- Option 3 – Skim coat of grout or mortar – The most cost effective solution (which is only used for the top of a wall which is rarely seen) is to apply a thin coating of grout or mortar over the top surface of unfinished glass blocks. These is very cheap to do – but it is not the prettiest approach (but that may be OK if it’s not in view).
- Option 4 – Solid surface, marble or granite – These materials have long been known for their flexibility (they can be fabricated into almost any shape – straight, angled or curved), wide array of colors (which can be matched to bathroom countertops or other trim) and their ability to stand up to water. Their primary drawback (especially in the case of a curved wall) is they can be very pricey and their final design must be coordinated with the exact curvature of the block wall (this can be tricky if it is not done by someone knowledgeable).
- Option 5 – Decorative high density wood – OK so now some people probably think I’ve gone nuts to recommend using wood in a shower but there are several wood species (like teak, Brazilian walnut, and cocobolo pictured below) which are durable and applicable for wet environments. They can be cut to the desired shape and create a unique look. The drawback of high density wood is they are high priced.
Which of these 5 glass block finishing options do you like the best? Comment or call the numbers below for more information or help with your project.
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 (513-742-5900) of Cincinnati or Dayton and Akron (330-633-2900).
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