Build with glass blocks or bricks

I have always considered glass blocks to be perfect for bathrooms - they let in plenty of natural light without any loss of privacy, and now that they are available in soft and bright colours, you can use glass blocks in even more creative ways.


Having recently completed a bathroom makeover for Easy DIY magazine, I feel ready to tackle anything, almost! The next project I do want to tackle is to give my master bathroom a makeover, and glass blocks for the shower enclosure are already on the shopping list.

Building with Glass Block or Bricks

Build a frame

Take accurate measurements for the positioning of the wall. Glass blocks are manufactured in a standard 190 x 190 x 80mm size, and it is necessary to allow a 10mm expansion gap between each block*. Because glass blocks cannot be cut, you may need to modify dimensions to fit the blocks.

*Where glass blocks are installed in an area affected by temperature changes, for example as a shower enclosure side or a panel alongside the front door, a 10mm expansion gap is a must, and it is recommended that silicone sealer be used to seal around individual blocks and around the framing.

Add reinforcing

For a sturdy construction, glass blocks should always be built within a frame. This also protects the edges, unless you are placing the bricks within a window opening, or pre-built wall.

Additionally, for an exterior wall or panels which could be broken away by an intruder you need to add reinforcing. As you lay the rows of blocks, bed steel rods into the mortar between blocks in every third row - both horizontally and vertically.

Horizontally: Lay the rods, staggered in pairs, in the mortar with each pair overlapping the next by at least 150mm for continuous strength. The ends of the rods, which reach the framing or sidewalls, should be inserted into 15mm deep holes drilled into the framing or walls. Drill the holes as the walling is built up to ensure alignment.

Vertically: Simply insert the rods into the mortar as the blocks are built up. The use of the reinforcing rods will add considerably to the strength of the construction.

Build the glass block wall

Starting at one end, lay the glass blocks in a neat row, using plastic joining strips, mortar or even silicone sealer between the vertical and horizontal joins.

Have a spirit level handy at all times to check as you build up the rows.