Glass Block Walls: Construction Mistakes to Avoid
Glass block walls add an elegant touch to your home and are surprisingly strong. A glass block wall lets light shine into a room while still allowing for privacy. Construction can be tricky, though, since the transparency of glass block will reveal mistakes. Here is a list of mistakes to avoid while you are building your glass block walls.
Little or No Planning
Before you buy materials and begin construction, you must have a plan. Glass blocks cannot be cut to size if they don’t fit your space properly. Decide what type, color, and size glass blocks you want. Then measure your space, more than once if necessary to ensure that the measurements are accurate. Draw up your plans and figure out how many of each kind of block you will need to fill the space. On the layout, be specific with what block goes where so there won’t be any mistakes later.
The process of laying glass blocks is much like bricklaying. It is a specialized skill and unless you have done something like it before, you should contact a professional with experience in building glass block walls. If you don’t place the blocks properly or seal them completely, you could get leaks and damaged glass blocks. You might wind up paying to have your glass block wall repaired or re-done completely.
There are options out there if you would like to build your glass block walls on your own but don’t have the necessary skills to lay the blocks. The first is to buy pre-assembled glass block sections. You can have them custom built to fit your needs and there is less room for error. The sections can be put in with either mortar or channels and plastic connectors. Pre-assembled glass block sections are heavy, though, so you will need a second person to lift them into place.
The second option is to use a mortar-less glass block kit. Instead of mortar you use metal channels screwed into the frame of the opening, plastic connectors, and a silicone sealant. It is important to constantly check to make sure the glass blocks are level and to clean up any excess sealant as soon as possible with a lacquer thinner.
First, glass block walls are strong but they are not designed to bear a significant amount of weight. Therefore do not use glass blocks in load-bearing walls. It may take time but eventually the blocks will crack and break, causing property damage and creating a safety hazard.
Second, glass block walls are very heavy when fully assembled. Check the structural integrity of the floor underneath the wall opening. Be prepared to put a structural support board between the bottom row of blocks and the floor or add supports underneath the floor. If your floor shifts, warps, or collapses, you are looking at a very large bill to repair the damage from your mistakes. There is also a serious risk of injury. Consider calling a professional in to get their opinion on whether or not you can build a glass block wall where you were planning to.