“Why can’t designing and installing a glass block wall or bar be as easy as putting together Lego blocks,” a customer once asked. Although it’s not that easy, with the new shapes, sizes, prefabrication techniques and installation accessories available today this unique glass wall product is being used increasingly in homes, businesses and commercial buildings. Follow these 5 steps and you’ll be able to create a cool, stylish, and easy to maintain wall or bar.

Step 1) Where do you want to use your glass block wall or bar? How big do you want to make the wall?

These specialized glass walls can be used on the inside, ilicone blocks within the exterior structure of the home or building, or even on the outside. Most common uses include partition walls to separate rooms, shower walls, and bars for the kitchen and recreation rooms. When you are designing and determining the materials needed for this project the size and shape of the wall are critical.

o Glass block bar sizes & shapes – Most bars are built 40″ high (5 courses of 8″ blocks stacked on top of each other). The countertop is installed after the block work is finished. For extra stability and cool design consider making your bar with either an “L shaped” or angled shape design or rounded (radius) look. The bars should be anchored into one wall for added support.

o Glass block wall sizes & shapes – Block walls can be built virtually any size, however the maximum dimensions of each wall section (or panel) will vary based on the thickness of the block (3 1/8″ or 3 7/8″ thick) and if the wall will be on the inside or exterior of the home or building. Since most walls are built using the 3 7/8″ thick size, here’s a quick reference for how big you can make your wall without the need for some type of engineered steel or aluminum support structure between your glass panels:

1. Maximum inside wall panel dimensions (3 7/8″ thick block)
– Total square footage of the wall – 250 sq. feet.
– Maximum height – 20 feet
– Maximum width – 25 feet

2. Maximum outside wall panel dimensions (3 7/8″ thick block)
– Total square footage of the wall – 144 sq. feet.
– Maximum height – 20 feet
– Maximum width – 25 feet

Step 2) What type of floor, partial wall or base will the block wall be placed on? What is the smallest width of the base for the block wall?

Block walls or bars can be placed virtually on any surface as long as it is structurally sound and approximately 3″ to 4″ wide. Most block walls weigh about 12 pounds per square foot of wall area. Shower pans made of acrylic, fiberglass, and tile with concrete work well. Interior walls with wood joists are usually fine as well as long as the floor is level. Placing the block on knee walls (also called half walls) with metal stud and drywall supports underneath works as well.

Step 3) What do you need to put your glass block wall or bars together? Can panel sections be manufactured to make the project easier?

The installation of block walls can be made much easier with the use of spacers, installation systems, or purchasing pre-made sections of block. Here’s a quick overview of each type of approach:

o Glass Block Spacers – In the old days block had to be laid piece by piece by a skilled mason contractor – these skilled craftsmen can be expensive and difficult to find. With the use of all plastic spacers the blocks can be laid uniformly and the spacers even help to keep the wall or bar flush and in place as you’re building it. Spacers are available for either straight or radius walls.

o Installation systems – The new vinyl stack installation system uses vinyl horizontal and vertical spacers between the blocks to align and hold the blocks in place for easy assembly. Silicone is used to bond the blocks to the vinyl spacers on the inside of the block wall. This system can be used for interior and exterior applications. Special tile grout or silicone can be used to finish off the joints.

o Prefabricated or pre-made block sections – With the vinyl stack installation system sections of block can be pre-assembled and installed in the field. Glass block panel manufacturers can build these sections for you, often saving time and money to complete the job. These sections should be designed considering who(m) will be installing the wall and where it is physically located on the project site.


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