Walls not only support the upper structure of your home, but they can also define the space with a sense of style. Glass blocks are one of the easiest materials to work with to really set your area apart.
Glass block is easy to work with, but it does take a lot of preparation before construction. Use a sheet of graph paper to lay out your glass block wall plan. Make careful measurements on the plan. You will need this when you go to purchase the materials. Glass blocks come in a number of sizes and shapes, so the decorative wall is really only limited by your imagination. Curved walls are especially popular, and simple to build.
Glass blocks come in two standard sizes, 6x6 and 8x8 inches. Typically, they are 3½ inches wide.
There are a number of designs that are imprinted on the block during the casting process, from simple to very complex. In most cases, a simple glass wall will look the best, letting in the most light without getting too cluttered.
You need to know how many regular blocks you will need, as well as how many of the edging blocks. Edging blocks have at least one outer rim that is curved. The standard blocks are meant to be supported on all four sides, so they are not finished on the rim. There are also blocks made to go on the corners, with two curved edges.
A special white mortar is used to adhere the blocks together. You can purchase this at the same store that the glass block is sold at. Do not use any other type of mortar.
If this is your first time installing a glass block wall, you may want to use spacers made especially for the size of block you've chosen. These will help you keep your mortar lines between the block even.
The horizontal mortar joints will need to be reinforced with stainless steel cribbing wire, this is also made to fit in between the blocks easily. A vertical stabilizing strap is used to attach the glass blocks to a wall, if necessary.
Two clean plastic pails are required: one for water, and one to mix the mortar in. A small pore sponge will be needed to clean off the mortar residue during construction. A level and a small triangular brick trowel will also be needed.
It is easy to install glass block, as long as you are going over a flat and level surface. Mark off the area with masking tape on each side, this will keep the wall even as you lay each course.
The first course is embedded in mortar, about ½ inch thick. Use a small triangular block trowel to "butter" the sides of the block as you set each one in place. The mortar should squeeze out from the joints as you gently tap each one into place. Only use a wooden hammer or block to set the glass block.
Lay a path of mortar on top of the first course, and then set the stainless steel cribbing, which looks like a small ladder, into it. More mortar is now applied with the trowel, and the next course set on top. Be sure to check the level of each course as you go.
Clean off the excess mortar with a sponge, soaked in a clean bucket of clear water. Do not put any pressure on the wall for at least 24 hours.