How to install a glass block shower window
Updated January 27, 2019
When Jim called me he knew exactly what he wanted – which was a high privacy glass block window to replace a badly worn and chipped wood framed window in his shower. The product selection decision was not tough for Jim – the concern he had though was how to properly install this glass block shower window to have an installation which would last. Jim asked me 4 questions which are typical for people doing this type of project:
1. What do I need to remove from the existing opening (the window sashes, the frame or everything)?
2. How do I prepare the sides of the opening and secure the glass block window?
3. How do I trim the inside of the window?
4. How do I finish the outside?
In the article below I’ll dig deeper into Jim’s questions to make it easier for anyone to have a successful glass block shower window installation.
Question 1 – What do I need to remove from the existing opening (the window sashes, the frame or everything)?
My input for Jim is you should remove everything which is rotten, deteriorated or rusted. If the existing sashes or frames are not rotten or rusted at a minimum the sashes will need to be removed.
In the case of a shower window you also need to consider how the inside wall surrounds will be finished. In Jim’s case he is building a new tile shower so the interior wood trim around the old window had to be removed so the new tile can be finished back to the glass block window. (see the picture in question 4 to see how this is done).
Question 2 – How do I prepare the sides of the opening and secure the glass block window?
Since Jim is building a tile shower I recommended to use cement board (or a waterproof extruded polystyrene wall board) to line the opening so the glass blocks can be mortared or grouted inside the space. Jim was using grout free shower wall panels I could also have recommended the window be secured into the rough wood opening with a spray foam insulation and then return the shower panels back to the glass blocks.
Question 3 – How do I trim the inside of the window?
With this tile installation the best approach is to use bullnose tiles to go from the shower wall surface back to the block window. Where the tile meets the glass blocks a bead of clear glass block silicone should be used.
Question 4 – How do I finish the outside?
Since this home’s exterior is constructed with wood framing and vinyl siding I recommended to bend aluminum coil stock and “cap” the opening on the exterior to meet the glass block window. Once again a bead of silicone is used where the coil stock meets the blocks (note – if the outside was masonry construction I would have advised Jim to add a more joint around the window to secure it to the brickwork).
The reality is for this glass block shower window (or any home improvement project) the devil – and the future success- of the installation is getting the details right.
If you have any questions or insights to offer about glass block shower windows feel to comment or call the number below.
To get free estimate on a glass block window, shower or wall project or for nationwide supply contact Innovate Building Solutions (877-668-5888). For a local installation project call 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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Megan – thanks for your question. I’ll give you the ‘age-old’ answer – it depends. But with grout free wall panels many systems have either trim strips or ‘window trim kits’ to go around the window. With tile there are bullnose tiles you can use to go from the wall back towards the window. If you contact our team we can give you specific advice depending on what type of tub surround system you’re using (and/or we can help you with the supply of a prefabricated glass block bathroom window if you need one). Thanks for reading my post – Mike (note you can reach our team at 877-668-5888)
I am looking at putting in a glass block window in my shower to replace the window currently there. I am going to be putting in a tub surround instead of tile. How would you recommend trimming the inside of the window then?
Gordon – this is usually not possible – or a good idea. There usually isn’t enough room to put a glass block window (which is 3 1/8″ thick) inside a fixed thermal pane window. Plus it will look kind of odd. Are you looking to have more privacy and that’s why you’re looking for the glass blocks (but keep the existing window in place)? If so, you may be able to use window film over the existing window. Let me know if we can help further – Mike
There is a fixed thermal pane window above where the bathtub is going.
Is it possible to install a glass block inside the existing fixed window, and leave the existing window in place?
Sunny – you should be able to put in a glass block window in this application. I would recommend a vinyl framed windows with silicone joints. I’ll include a link to the specific product line I’d recommend here – https://innovatebuildingsolutions.com/products/glass-block/vinyl-framed-windows – this is a window we wholesale across the country. If you need further help call us at 877-668-5888. Mike
We were looking at putting a larger glass block window (4×4) in a tub shower combo but the contractor tells me it will leak if it is that low. Meaning it starts just above the side of the tub and he says the water will hit it and leak. Is this an issue?
Charles – you do not have to cut the glass blocks. We have different sizes units – 4 x 8, 6 x 8 and 8 x 8 are the most common to make the sizing work out for you. If you have any questions call us at 877-668-5888. Mike
how do i cut the block to small size to fit gap on non standard opening
Jessie – unfortunately there is a not a hard and fast rule to apply in all locations. Basically if the frame is deteriorated you’ll want to get it out of there. In all cases we are removing the window sash. Feel free to call us to talk through your specific project.
I want to get a glass block installed. One problem, where I want it there is a window already there. Sounds like I need to get it removed. How do you know if you need to remove everything not just the sashes? You did a great job, I hope I can get something similar done.