How to Build a Glass Block Shower
A walk-in glass-block shower is a valuable bathroom upgrade that can make a cramped space look larger, allow more light in, and add a sturdy structural element to your decor. And, with improvements in today's glass shower blocks, one can be created in just a few steps.
Step 1 – Measure and Calculate Materials
Decide on Block Sizes
First, design a layout for the glass-block walls, and then decide on what size you will want to use. Typical blocks are either 6-by-6 or 8-by-8 inches
Decide on the Number of Blocks
Next, just like installing a glass-block window, you need to figure out how many "common" blocks you need. Common blocks are ones with unfinished sides, used for the bulk of the interior walls. Then, determine how many finished ends and corners you will need. Finished ends are rounded on one side and polished smoothly, and corners are finished on two sides.
Step 2 – Prepare the Space
You need a clean, flat floor space to set the blocks on. Glass block is best set on top of a finished tile surface. Make sure the area is dry. It’s a good idea to store your tools and materials in another room, as the installation can get messy.
Step 3 – Lay Your First Course
Mix the Mortar
Glass-block mortar is a fine, white setting cement that is available from the same store where you bought your glass block. While you can use other approved substances, this special mortar works well.
Mix up only enough mortar as you can use at one time, so that it doesn’t dry out as you go. Wear gloves while working with this substance and any other safety gear the product recommends.
Apply the Mortar
Starting in one corner, pile up 1/2 inch of mortar a little wider than the block, about four blocks long. Using your trowel, apply a large dollop of mortar to the bottom and two sides of the first glass block, and spread it evenly, like buttering bread.
Place the Tile
Place the tile against your vertical surface, securing it down into the mortar on the base. Unless this is a free-standing wall, this first tile will abut the existing wall.
Insert a Space
Insert a white spacer between each of the blocks as you go. These spacers will help you achieve a uniform, professional result. Butter the bottom and one side of the next block, and set it next to the first, so that the mortared side of the first meets a dry side of the second.
Do the same thing with the next block, working from block to block, applying the mortar, and squishing it into place with the previously set block.
Use a Level
When you have four blocks in a row, use a level to make sure they aren't crooked. You can gently tap the blocks down or over with a soft rubber mallet to make sure they are square.
Step 4 – Lay the Next Courses
When you have finished your first course, place more spacers on top of each of the bottom glass blocks. Set mortar across the top of the first course and repeat the same steps for the second, third, fourth, and fifth courses, depending how high your wall needs to be. The first block in each course needs to attach to the existing wall, just like in the first course.
Step 5 – Gently Wash the Wall
Be sure to check your level and make certain that the wall isn't leaning in or out. When you get the wall as high as you want, wash it down gently with your sponge and a fresh bucket of water. Use a minimal amount of water and pat dry.
Step 6 – Finish the Top and Sides
Now, install the finish blocks along the side row and onto the top to give the wall a smooth appearance. Then, remove all the spacers. Once these blocks have all completely set up, go back with more of the mortar mix and fill in all of the joints.
Clean with a sponge, and wait for 72 hours before you use your new glass-block shower.