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Posts Tagged ‘glass block designs’

13 1/2 Frequently Asked Questions about Glass Block Basement and Bathroom Windows You Need to Know

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block, Windows

Opening Image - glass block basement and bathroom windows | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlockWindows #BathroomWindows #Basementwindows #FloodedBasement

The Fall cold snap has arrived. If you’ve stepped into your freezing-cold cast iron tub/shower this morning you know I speak the truth.

Conversely, if you’re not ‘enjoying’ your drafty, ‘spooky-spider-infested’ basement windows when you’re doing laundry, I bet you’d be glad to have new windows. You’ve dreamed about a first-floor laundry room, but in the meantime, you’d be happy to make this ‘dungeon’ of a basement a bit better.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know your bathroom and basement windows have seen there better days. As a matter of fact, they saw their better days 20 years ago!

If you’ve ‘had it up to here’ (as Mom used to say) with rusted, rotten and drafty basement and bathroom windows I can feel your pain.

So, you’ve decided to ‘kick the digital tires’ and look into glass block bathroom and basement windows to replace your drafty, bug-infested, practically falling out ‘window gems’. You think glass block may be the answer. One problem is your contractor doesn’t seem to know squat about this product.

Like Colonel Nathan Jessup in my favorite movie A Few Good Men might say, you not only want the truth, you need the truth (in this case to determine if glass blocks windows are a sound solution for your basement and bathroom window replacements).

I’m a guy who has owned a glass block business since 1985 (I don’t want you to think I’m old so let’s say I started in the business at the age of 9). My company has put in over 750,000 glass block windows in the Cleveland and Columbus Ohio markets. Over the years I’ve learned a couple of things about these windows I’d like to share with you.

My goal in this article is simple. I’ll give you ‘the skinny’ on glass block windows by answering 13 ½ frequently asked questions. I want to make sure you’re not duped by a contractor or interior designer with misinformation I hear all the time about this product.

Let’s dig into the FAQ’s.

The 7 Biggest Blunders with Glass Block Bathroom Windows (and 7 Tricks to Fix Them)

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

Glass block window in bathroom or shower installation | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlockWindow #BathroomWindows #GlassBlockDesign

I’ve been around the (glass) block (OK, I know that’s a bad play on words) a long time. I started in this business in 1989 (I like to tell people I was only 11 years old at the time, but nobodies buying it). In these 30 years I’ve seen a lot of glass block bathroom window jobs. Some supplied and installed by my business, others not.

Glass block is thought of as a ‘masonry’ product (mortared together block by block with an old, grizzly mason). Homeowners and contractors struggle with masonry-built glass block windows. They’re not sure how to design their window. They don’t know how it should be installed into a framed opening (since most bathroom windows aren’t installed into concrete blocks or poured walls, like basement windows).

This lack of knowledge (and the bad information they get along the way) results in some UGLY-looking jobs which don’t last. My business has seen (and fixed) many of these ugly jobs (or you can call them blunders).

The fact is these blunders (AKA crappy jobs) didn’t have to happen. In fact, glass blocks can be simple to design and install…if you know a few tricks.

In this article my goal is simple.

First, I want to identify the top 7 blunders I’ve seen in my waaaay too many years in the biz.

Second (and most importantly), I want to give you practical ideas (or tricks), so you don’t fall in the ‘bad project’ trap. I want you to have a bathroom window which looks sharp and is designed, fabricated and installed to last (I was going to say to Infinity and Beyond, but that sounded too corny).

So, let’s dig into the 7 biggest blunders (and practical ideas to fix them) of glass block bathroom windows.

How to select the best shape for a glass block shower wall

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block

How to select the best shape for a glass block shower wall | Innovate Building Solutions

Updated March 16, 2019

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!

5 Secrets Nobody Tells You about Glass Block Windows

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

5 secrets nobody tells you about glass block windows

If you call or walk in your local home center or building material supply store and ask someone a question about glass block window design, fabrication or dare I say it – installation – you’ll be lucky if they even know if they carry glass blocks in stock (by the way in most cases they don’t carry this material)! Maybe you’ve got a unique design or a tough installation question and you not only need basic advice you need a “masters-level” input (or the “untold story”) on how to work with this classic material.

If you’re looking for deeper input you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 little known secrets about glass block windows which can help you get an improved design and quality of the installation. Let’s dig in!

5 ½ Amazing Glass Block Shower Designs with Personality

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

5 1/2 amazing glass block shower designs

Updated January 27, 2019

Boring. Mediocre. Run of the mill. In a nutshell that’s what most glass block shower designs are like. Get one standard 8” x 8” x 4” wavy glass block, stack it on top on the next block, lay them up in a straight line, stick a door on the other side and call it done. Now you have your plain Jane shower. Woo hoo!

When I was growing up my Dad Joe would say the word “mediocre” was a dirty word. He challenged me, my brother Frank and sister Venera to be the best we could be. He wanted us to become the best version of ourselves and do it with with “personopoloy.” You may ask what is “personopoly?” It was my Dad’s funny made up word to us to lead our lives with our own unique personality.

In the article below I’d like you to go on a trip with me to see 5 ½ incredible glass block shower designs (our company had the pleasure of working on) which certainly aren’t boring or mediocre. These designs are distinctive because their owners were not afraid to let their uniqueness and “personopoly” show. They used persistence to find the right suppliers and contractors to make their dream showers a reality and wouldn’t take no for an answer!

Pittsburgh Corning to Stop Glass Block Manufacturing – Now What?

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block

Pittsburgh Corning to Stop Manufacturing Glass Blocks in Port Alleghany Pennsylvania

Updated February 22, 2019

Another American company (Pittsburgh Corning the only domestic manufacturer of glass blocks) decides to idle a 79 year old plant in Port Alleghany Pennsylvania and permanently lay off 75 workers. As someone who has bought Pittsburgh Corning (P.C) products, likes glass blocks as a building material or is a fan of U.S. made products here’s 3 questions you’ll want the answers to:

  • (Question 1) Why did Pittsburgh Corning close their United States manufacturing plant making glass blocks? Could this plant closing have been stopped?
  • (Question 2) I already have a window, shower wall or commercial project made with Pittsburgh Corning glass blocks (or was planning a future project with P.C. materials). What should I do now?
  • (Question 3) What is the future of the glass block industry? Can I still use this product for my home or commercial building? What do the product options look like without Pittsburgh Corning in the market? Is the future of this industry bright or bleak?

I’ll explore this decision Pittsburgh Corning made (now almost 3 years ago) and give you a feeling how the market has evolved today.

 

Glass Blocks are not Dead! 5 Ways a Classic Material has Evolved

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block

 - new products and contemporary glass block designs

Warning – This article may be controversial to some.

I have to admit with many designers, decorators and architects I hear the following comments:

  • Glass blocks are dated.
  • Glass blocks are an old school material.
  • Aren’t those blocks just for basement and factory windows?

While the use of glass blocks for functional (not too sexy) projects like basement,  bathroom or factory windows makes sense for security and  improved energy efficiency, the material has evolved dramatically with some cool designer products no one seems to know about. Why are glass blocks seen as dead or dated? Why is this product the “Rodney Dangerfield” of building materials (i.e. it gets no – or minimal – respect)?

I would contend the marketing of these cool products has been woefully under-promoted. With this lack of promotion a common refrain of designers is often, “glass blocks are dead.”  They aren’t dead – the problem is no one really knows what’s cool and hot with them.

In this article I’m going to take you on a journey to see how this classic material has evolved into a contemporary element which can fit into a home or business with a modern design aesthetic. Let’s take a look at 5 specific ways glass blocks are being resurrected right now “from the dead” into a new modern design-forward building material.

 

Can a garage window be architectural and elegant?

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block, Windows

Decorative Glass block garage window in Michigan with an architectural flair

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.

5 Design Ideas to Modernize a Glass Block Wall or Window

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block

Modern shower with colored glass blocks and a circular skylight

Updated February 23, 2019

Yes – I’ve heard the arguments that glass blocks are dated or that they are an “80’s” product – but I’m not sure people who make this claim are aware of how this material has evolved. This is not your Grandfathers glass blocks (or your Fathers Oldsmobile anymore). The article below will show you 5 design ideas to modernize a glass block wall or window which will you cause to pause about your thoughts of this as an outdated building material.

Adding Cool Designs in a Glass Block Wall or Window

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block, Windows

Glass block pattern wall using Spyra design to move interior light

Glass block pattern wall using Spyra design to move interior light

 

A stud and drywall wall may serve the functional purpose of separating rooms but it doesn’t do much to add style or move light through the inside of a loft, single family home or commercial space. What’s getting hot now is to use glass block designs in wall or interior window areas to add interest, increase natural light and save energy. Here’s 3 designer options with to consider:

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