Glass block window running vertically between two studs in bathroom

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Edgar_in_Indy

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Hello! New member here. I recently had to tear out the tub and shower in our 13-year-old house due to some water damage inside the little wall between the tub and shower. We'd been thinking about updating our bathroom for a while, so now that it's all torn out we're taking advantage of the situation to update things.

I'm pretty handy, but my expertise only goes so far, so I'll be relying on YouTube and probably this site a lot! Fortunately we have two other full bathrooms, so I'm free to take things slow.

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Our bathroom doesn't have a window, so if possible I would like to add a glass block window between the 16-oc studs on the wall behind the tub. A 2-block wide window of 6x6x3 glass blocks would be 12". Framing the window out with 1x3 (or 1x4?) would bring the framed block assembly to 13.5" wide. Would that work to install within the 14.5" space between studs? Any issues I should be aware of? I would use a morter-less installation system for the glass block itself.

Here's the room as it sits now (the wall for the linen closet is marked with an "X" since I'm planning to get rid of the closet to make more room for the shower/tub):

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And here's a mock-up I made in Sweet Home 3D showing what I'm going for:

View from sink.jpg

View from tub.jpg

And here's the layout:

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RedneckGrump

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First of all @Edgar_in_Indy welcome to our forum... Great place to be... and even GREATER people here... Welcome...

Like your plans for your washroom... and looks like a great program for design... Going to have to look at that program... How much, and where to find it?

Love the window idea you are thinking but have to make sure it is very well sealed, and tight because that is another mould waiting to happen... Looking forward to moving forward with YOU in this project...
 

Edgar_in_Indy

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First of all @Edgar_in_Indy welcome to our forum... Great place to be... and even GREATER people here... Welcome...

Like your plans for your washroom... and looks like a great program for design... Going to have to look at that program... How much, and where to find it?

Thank you for the kind welcome. The program I used is Sweet Home 3D and it's free. Takes some learning, but it's not anything too difficult. Here's the website:

https://www.sweethome3d.com/

Love the window idea you are thinking but have to make sure it is very well sealed, and tight because that is another mould waiting to happen... Looking forward to moving forward with YOU in this project...

Thanks for the warning. I've been watching a lot of videos on how to flash and seal window openings, so I think I'm prepared.

I originally planned to buy bare glass blocks and assemble them myself, but the parts for mortar-free glass block assembly are surprisingly expensive. I eventually found this 46"x11.5" pre-assembled glass block window from Home Depot for $138. With 6x6x3" glass blocks selling for about $7 each, it was only a little more for the pre-assembled window. Here's the link:

Clearly Secure 46.5 in. x 11.5 in. x 3.125 in. Frameless Ice Pattern Non-Vented Glass Block Window 4812SIC - The Home Depot

And here's the product image:

clearly-secure-glass-block-windows.jpg

You have to be careful when buying preassembled glass block windows, because they will often mix and match different sized and shaped blocks in the same window in order to achieve the desired dimensions, and the size of the glass blocks is usually not disclosed in the description. I believe this one is all 6x6 blocks, but I won't really know for sure until I get it.
 

jcar932

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I've got glass block in a number of places in my house including in two of the shower stalls. I used individual glass blocks. just make sure you follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Essentially, they're more like doing masonry work than putting in regular windows. You need to make sure they are supported well on the bottom (real glass block is heavy, but I've also worked with some acrylic lookalikes). If you go up more than a couple of courses, you'll need to tie them into the framing (you put this mesh between the courses and attach that to the framing).
 

Edgar_in_Indy

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I've got glass block in a number of places in my house including in two of the shower stalls. I used individual glass blocks. just make sure you follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Essentially, they're more like doing masonry work than putting in regular windows. You need to make sure they are supported well on the bottom (real glass block is heavy, but I've also worked with some acrylic lookalikes). If you go up more than a couple of courses, you'll need to tie them into the framing (you put this mesh between the courses and attach that to the framing).

I'm buying a pre-assembled glass block window, so I shouldn't need to do anything with mortar. I do have to figure out how to set it in the frame though. I'm considering a couple options. I only have a limited amount of width since the gap between studs is 14.5", and the bare, unframed glass window is 11.5" wide. Here's what I'm thinking:
  1. Build the frame so that it allows 1/4 inch gap all around the glass block window. Then set the window into the frame with 1/4 inch shims at the bottom, and use expanding foam all around the glass block window to hold and seal it in the frame. Or...

  2. Build the frame so that it fits the glass block window tight. I would leave the top of the frame off, slide the glass block window in, and then attach the top piece. I would use some kind of sealer/caulk to seal the window to the frame.
Any feedback on which option would be better would be greatly appreciated. Or maybe there's another option I haven't considered? I tried a Google search, but most pages about glass block are for installing it into existing openings in brick/concrete block construction, and using mortar to assemble the blocks.
 
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jcar932

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The instructions for a few of the pre-assembled ones I'm looking at expect a hole slightly larger than the assembly and then you mortar the thing in place (using some shims to get it centered vertically in the opening.
 

Edgar_in_Indy

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The instructions for a few of the pre-assembled ones I'm looking at expect a hole slightly larger than the assembly and then you mortar the thing in place (using some shims to get it centered vertically in the opening.

So would that mean setting it in place with shims at the bottom, and then start packing mortar into the small gap all the way around?
 

Edgar_in_Indy

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I just came across this tidbit on another forum:

Hey everyone just thought I'd post back that the manufactures rep finally called me back. He confirms that hydraulic cement will blow the blocks out as it cures, so stick with a sandless mortar.

He also mentioned that people have had success using a low expansion sprayfoam like Great Stuff. The standard expanding foam could cause problems, just as it would with a standard window and door, so stick with the low expansion. On the exterior it also has to be sealed with a quality polyurethane caulk to stop moisture penetration. Should you go with the sprayfoam method, it’s very important to position the window firmly using shims before you start. If the window isn’t positioned firmly, the foam will shift the window out of position as it expands and cures. Once that happens, the only recourse is to cut the window out, clean both surfaces and try again. Not fun! So once the window is positioned blow small amounts of sprayfoam all around the gaps on the two sides and bottom. This will ensure that the window stays in position once you remove the wedges to fill the remaining gaps. Careful not to get the foam on the wedges, cutting them out will be pain. After the foam has cured you can cut off the excess and caulk. Since most sprayfoams take 24 hours to cure, only do this when there is no rain in the forecast. The unsealed foam acts like a sponge, so it’s important to seal with caulk ASAP.

I won’t be able to install my windows until late this month; I’ll post back and let you know how it turns out.

So apparently at least one manufacturer says it's okay to install with foam. It sounds like it's important to use low-expansion foam though. After foam has cured, cut off excess and then caulk.

I also saw somebody recommend painting the outside edges of the blocks white prior to installation, so as to prevent the yellow foam from showing through. That seems like a good idea, assuming they take paint. I don't have the window yet, so I don't know what the edges of the blocks are like.

EDIT: In the product picture, it looks like the edges of my glass blocks are already coated white, so the foam showing through may not be a concern.
 
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Ron Van

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My wife, Ruby really loves glass blocks. I showed her your pictures and now I think I'm going to have to incorporate some in our house.

Our old house had a shower similar to yours and it leaked at the hinge side of the door and rotted the floor. The wood under the linoleum was totally rotted out and continued under the toilet room wall.

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I removed part of the wall to replace the rotted floor and built it back a little wider to accept a larger shower.

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Here's the finished product
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Edgar_in_Indy

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My wife, Ruby really loves glass blocks. I showed her your pictures and now I think I'm going to have to incorporate some in our house.

Our old house had a shower similar to yours and it leaked at the hinge side of the door and rotted the floor. The wood under the linoleum was totally rotted out and continued under the toilet room wall.
Ha ha, that looked a lot like my bathroom...similar shower and similar tub with the little wall between and water leaking from the corner of the shower. Your bathroom turned out really great! What shower is that? I really like the low-profile pan. And while I'm at it, can you tell me what shower set that is?
 

Edgar_in_Indy

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The glass block window arrived today, and it's even better than I hoped. First of all, the box was pretty big and heavy, but it was well marked and packaged well enough that it arrive safely.

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The crazy thing is that it shipped free with UPS and arrived in just a few days. This is a 51" long box weighing 60 lbs. Shipping something like that would normally be a small fortune. Before ordering this one from Home Depot for $138 shipped, I priced similar pre-assembled blocks from a couple business that specialize in glass block. Both of them gave me a price of $200+ for the window, with another $200 for freight shipping from neighboring states.

Based on the product photos I thought it was going to be 6x6" blocks, and my major concern would be that they are not all the same size. So when I took it out, I was surprised to see that they are actually 6x8", which I think actually looks better. And fortunately all the blocks are the same size.

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It looks like it is assembled with some kind of clear-ish rubbery sealant. I carefully picked it up and moved it around a few times while inspecting it for damage, and it seemed to be pretty solid. It does squirt out in a few places, but overall seems fine. I make take a razor to one or two spots on the face though.

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Overall I'm thrilled with the window for the price, and can't wait to see it in place.
 

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Ron Van

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Ha ha, that looked a lot like my bathroom...similar shower and similar tub with the little wall between and water leaking from the corner of the shower. Your bathroom turned out really great! What shower is that? I really like the low-profile pan. And while I'm at it, can you tell me what shower set that is?
The shower was really fantastic but very expensive. I doubt I'll ever do one like that again. Ruby and I went to the Home show at Cal Expo in Sacramento (where we used to live). The vendor was selling custom Corian enclosures but the impressive part was seams were invisible. The material was about 1/2" thick. The salesman took a sharpie and marked it, waited a while as he talked and then scrubbed it off with soft scrub.

Ruby and I went down to the showroom and started discussing our project, which changed several times through the process, and ended up with what you see. We originally wanted a custom tub made of the same material but opted for a much cheaper acrylic- free standing tub.

In the corners, where the material meets, they put a triangular piece of trim and then used a special router to make it look like a one piece enclosure.
IMG_0620u - Copy - Copy.jpg

I used Red Guard membrane for waterproofing. They sprayed foam under the pan to fill in the spaces. It was rock solid!
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They had to glue the pieces together to make it 8' tall but the seams were invisible.

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The enclosure was $8,289.00 installed. The 1/4" glass was from a different company and was $2,350.00 installed including hardware. The shower mixer is a Hansgrohe Metris C thermostatic valve with volume control and diverter. All the valves, shower head, vertical bar, etc was $850.00. The top knob on the shower valve controls volume and which shower is on (or you can run both if you want), The bottom knob is temperature. I had to install a vacuum break at the low point, which is where the hand held hose starts. Without the vacuum break, the shower sprayer will drip because when you shut off the water, the hose and shower head is full of water and has nowhere to go. The vacuum break senses the drop in pressure and opens to drain the hose.
IMG_1040e.jpg

This tub is a $840.00 Woodbridge freestanding tub.

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I used a tub receptacle that I could just set the tub on and the drain tailpiece slid into the plumbing which made it easy to install the tub. I made a little door under the tub so I could check the plumbing if need be but I never did.

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We found the floor tile at the discount section of the local tile store. I installed it myself over cement backer board. I installed new faucets in the original vanity that came with house. I took the doors and drawer faces off and spray painted them white because they were 1990's oak color. I also put soft close slides on all the drawers in the house. The total bathroom cost with all misc costs, fittings, and hardware was $21,932.58.

It was my dream bathroom but we ended up selling this house less than a year after completing this bath. Also remodeled the kitchen and two other bathrooms. We sold it all and bought a house on a lake in Alabama. Now we are remodeling the new house and that's why I'm looking at glass block and collecting ideas.
 

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Ron Van

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One of the problems I ran into, which I don't think will be a problem for you, is the little pony wall that used to be between the tub and shower actually housed the bath drain vent. Replacing that vent was a challenge because of all the windows around the tub made it difficult to vent the tub within the 5' required by code. Also, the vent can't go horizontal until above the floodplain. The vent used to go up in the pony wall and once it was above the floodplain, it angled toward the wall. When I took the pony wall out, everything changed.


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Vents take up a large portion of the code and are way more complex than I realized before taking on this project. Supply line plumbing (especially with Pex) is a piece of cake compared to drains.
 
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Edgar_in_Indy

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The shower was really fantastic but very expensive. I doubt I'll ever do one like that again. Ruby and I went to the Home show at Cal Expo in Sacramento (where we used to live). The vendor was selling custom Corian enclosures but the impressive part was seams were invisible. The material was about 1/2" thick. The salesman took a sharpie and marked it, waited a while as he talked and then scrubbed it off with soft scrub.

Wow, you did a great job. It turned out really beautiful. Too bad you didn't get to enjoy it for too long, but your new lake house sounds like a fun adventure.

Ruby and I went down to the showroom and started discussing our project, which changed several times through the process, and ended up with what you see. We originally wanted a custom tub made of the same material but opted for a much cheaper acrylic- free standing tub.

These acrylic tubs seems to be pretty tough, and you don't have to break your back trying to carry them into the house.

I used Red Guard membrane for waterproofing. They sprayed foam under the pan to fill in the spaces. It was rock solid!

I'm also planning to use Red Guard. I liked to see that you used foam under the base. When I pulled out my old shower and tub they were both set in foam, and they were always very solid, but everything I read online was that you need to use mortar. But the foam certainly seemed to work fine for us for 13 years, and made removal much easier and less messy when the time came. Did you use low-expansion or regular foam?


The enclosure was $8,289.00 installed. The 1/4" glass was from a different company and was $2,350.00 installed including hardware.

We're trying to do our whole bathroom remodel for what you spent on your shower enclosure alone, lol. I would love to hire more of the labor out, but I can't bear to pay somebody so much for something I can do myself...but we'll see how that goes!

The most expensive items so far were the shower enclosure, which was $1100, and the tub, which was $700. Oh, and the double vanity for $900. The tiles for the floor and the wall were about $500 each, each covering about 100 sq ft. New toilet was $300, and faucets for the tub, shower, and sinks came to about $700 combined. Plus mirrors and a storage cabinet. Once sundries are factored in, and some of the tools I needed to buy, I'm hoping we'll be around $7000. Assuming I don't wimp out and hire some of the work out.

Here's the shower I bought. Got the box sitting in my garage now, and it weighs a TON!:

VIGO Monteray 40.25 in. x 79.25 in. Frameless Left-Hinged Corner Shower Enclosure in Chrome with Shower Base in White VG6011CHCL40WL - The Home Depot

vigo-shower-enclosures-vg6011chcl40wl-64_1000.jpg

I used a tub receptacle that I could just set the tub on and the drain tailpiece slid into the plumbing which made it easy to install the tub. I made a little door under the tub so I could check the plumbing if need be but I never did.

That's a good idea about the access door for the plumbing. I'm sure somebody will appreciate it in the future.

Sounds like your plumbing situation was more complex than mine. Yeah, our pony wall didn't have anything in it (other than moldy wood). Fortunate for me, since that would be one more thing I'd have to try to educate myself on. It already seems a little overwhelming with adding the window, tiling the floor and walls, moving the drains and shower/bath faucets, installing the shower enclosure, etc.

We found the floor tile at the discount section of the local tile store. I installed it myself over cement backer board.
I was going to put cement board down over the OSB, but then I found somebody on facebook nearby selling a good-sized roll of Ditra for $50 leftover from their own bathroom reno. Seems like a good option and easier to work with than cement board.


It was my dream bathroom but we ended up selling this house less than a year after completing this bath. Also remodeled the kitchen and two other bathrooms. We sold it all and bought a house on a lake in Alabama. Now we are remodeling the new house and that's why I'm looking at glass block and collecting ideas.
Good luck with that, sounds like you'll have plenty to keep you busy for a while!
 

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