Controversy and debate seems to follow glass blocks and glass bricks like a bad rash. Some people give them an enthusiastic Siskel and Ebert inspired two thumbs up. Others say – yuck – I wouldn’t put those 80’s glass blocks in my home if you gave them to me! As someone whose been in the glass block biz since 1985 (yes – I’m dating myself here but I like to tell people I started at the age of 11 – a BIT of an exaggeration but I’m going with it) it’s easy to see that building material trends are changing constantly and that has impacted how people feel about glass blocks.
You see some stuff which was hot in the 80’s not being used any more. With glass blocks there are styles, product and installation systems which are popular today most people don’t even know exist. Most people think of glass blocks as one wavy 8” x 8” unit stacked on top of another.
So, before you say whether glass blocks or hot, or not, read on to see what k options others are finding to be inspired ….and also what products and systems are just “old-school.” At the end of the article I’d love to know whether this post has changed your opinion or not.
Urban loft spaces in trendy areas like Victorian Village in Columbus or Little Italy in Cleveland can be cool but not if they are dark and have closed in spaces. One challenge of loft apartment housing is how to create a light open space while creating visual separations between rooms. Once excellent way to do this is through the use of distinctive modern glass block wall partitions.
Glass blocks have moved on from its traditional roots to now incorporated fun and vibrant colors and eye-popping textured looks which stand out in your modern home. Check out these 5 cool ideas to move light through the inside of your loft while providing privacy and an interesting look which can be as unique as you are.
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.
Solid glass brick wall in a bathroom with blue and clear units
Question: What product can create clear or colored light movement through a wall with the traditional look of a brick?
Answer: Solid glass bricks in clear and colored selections.
For a unique look consider using solid glass bricks for a shower stall, plant stand, decorative column or divider wall. In the article below learn the answers to the frequently asked design and construction questions about solid glass bricks.
What sizes and colors of glass bricks are available? – These units come in 9 ½” x 4 ½” x 2” and 4 ½” x 4 ½” x 2” sizes. They are available in non-colored (clear), blue, Nordica (dark brown) and siena (tan) colors.
Clear solid glass brick in a 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2″ size
What is the difference between glass bricks and glass blocks? – The main difference between these two types of glass masonry units is that glass blocks are hollow on the inside and glass bricks are solid pieces of glass (which makes them significantly heavier than glass blocks and provides higher impact resistance and compressive strength). Since glass blocks are hollow they have the advantage of being less expensive than glass bricks.
How can glass bricks be assembled? – In most cases these units are assembled with mortar – but it is also possible to use silicone between the bricks. The walls can be made different sizes – but an unsupported wall should not exceed 40 square feet.
Close up with “siena” colored glass bricks installed with mortar at a pool
What are the most popular applications for glass bricks? – Glass bricks provide a decorative look not available with other types of glass options (like traditional flat glass). These units can be used on the inside or outside of a home or commercial building. Some common applications include wall dividers, shower walls, plant stands, decorative columns, pool areas and capstones for exterior walls.
Glass brick wall in a bathroom
Solid glass brick kitchen divider wall in Nordica color
Where can they be purchased? – Innovate Building Solutions offers nationwide design and supply of glass bricks and regional installation service as well.
Do you like the looks of glass bricks? Please comment or call one of the numbers below if we can help you further.
To learn more or get an estimate on glass bricks visit or 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) Mid America Glass Block (513-742-5900) of Cincinnati or Dayton and Akron (330-633-2900).