Glass block church windows at Hope Lutheran Church in Columbus Ohio
When Hope Lutheran Church of Columbus Ohio went looking to replace their windows which “leaked liked crazy” according to Pastor Carl Rayburn not just any type of window would do. The church needed replacement windows which would not only make the space more comfortable, but would also offer enhanced security vs. the old single pane windows.
Old single pane aluminum windows prior to glass block installation
During the next year and a half Pastor Rayburn along with his committee evaluated options and came to conclusion that commercial grade glass block windows would be the best choice. Learn more below about the design, fabrication and installation approach for the glass blocks used in this project.
After Glass Block Church Windows at St James Episcopal Church with Composite Trim Board
Let’s face it – single pane wood framed windows have a lot of pitfalls – they are poor insulators, can be broken into easily and the frames surrounding the sashes deteriorate over time. Transform Construction contacted the Columbus Glass Block division of Innovate Building Solutions to find a long lasting and high quality solution for this problem. The old basement windows to be replaced were part of a basement renovation for St. James Episcopal Church. Learn below the advantages of glass block church windows and the installation approach used to ensure these windows last over time.
Before - single pane wood framed windows at St. James Episcopal Church in Columbus Ohio before glass blocks were installed
Although many people have seen glass blocks installed in for residential basement and bathroom windows there is a certainly mystique surrounding how to properly perform glass block window installation for commercial buildings. Check out the video below and read these 5 steps to learn the basic ways to properly accomplish this process.
Step 1 – Evaluate the type of structure surrounding the inside & outside of the window opening (masonry, brick veneer, steel, aluminum or wood buildings). Glass block windows can be installed in any of these different building types – although the process may vary between them.
Step 2 – Determine what materials the existing windows are made of (metal, aluminum, wood frames). In most commercial, factory and church windows removing the existing frames is the preferred approach as long as the framing is not tied into a surrounding structure that will be damaged if the frames are removed.
Step 3 – Measure the width & height of the openings. Longer & taller openings will require an aluminum channel style installation to allow for proper expansion & contraction. Most opening greater than 50 square feet require aluminum channels so the panel sections won’t break during the freeze/thaw cycle.
Step 4 – Use prefabricated commercial glass block windows strengthened with vinyl or steel reinforcing to reduce installation time, improve security, and minimize downtime & disruption for a business. In the old days most industrial glass block windows were mortared together by a mason contractor block by block once the window opening was created. This process takes a long time, can be messy and can lead a building that needs remodeling open too long. The pre-made sections can cut installation costs, improve the quality (shop built assemblies can be more uniform than site built windows), and can significantly reduce the amount of time a window area is open for a retrofit project.
Step 5 – Choose a glass block, general or maintenance contractor with expertise in commercial, architectural or industrial projects. Some commercial window projects can involve quite large areas that can involve challenges like protrusions through the window or they can be high off the ground. Projects like these may not be a good idea for an unfamiliar company maintenance department and may be best handled by an experienced general or glass block contractor.
Do you have any questions or input about how to install a commercial, industrial or church glass block window? Please comment below.
Before - St Agatha Church Gymnasium Windows broken and cracked blocks
The problem: St. Agatha Church in Columbus Ohio had a legitimate concern about the functionality and safety of deteriorated old glass block windows in several second story windows surrounding their gymnasium. Some of these challenges included:
A good number of the 70 to 80 year old glass blocks (which used an old cold fusing technology) had been cracked and some had even retained water. There was a concern about a block cracking and injuring someone or damaging the wood gym floor.
The old glass block installation was not properly done with materials to allow for expansion and contraction and therefore the mortar joints were failing and had been patched with silicone caulk several times over the years.
After St Agatha Church Windows with new glass blocks
The broken and dingy old blocks (glass blocks used to be manufactured with the pattern on the outside which retained dirt & debris) did not provide a nice appearance for the gym or provide as much natural light as was desired.
The energy efficiency of the old blocks was not up to modern standards.
OK – you’re church is probably not as dramatic and awe-inspiring as St. Peter’s in Rome I photographed on a recent vacation…but that is no reason you can’t have functional, secure, and decorative church windows. Here are some key points to consider when designing and ordering these windows: