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Old 01-04-2012, 03:02 PM   #1
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


I recently purchased a huge fixer upper built in 1938. The downstairs bath has a fully tiled walk-in shower stall. It includes a small glass block window (see attached pic - outside view).

The grout has almost totally failed, mildew everywhere. Frankly, I don't know how the bricks stay in place. I've listed my options based on my estimated cost and labor:
  1. cover window (on inside) with plastic to prevent further water damage
  2. reinstall existing blocks with new grout and caulk
  3. replace glass blocks with a fixed window
  4. redo entire bathroom; put in bigger, better shower stall
Realistically #1 and #4 are, respectively too little and too much. I'm really debating between #2 and #3. I don't exactly like or dislike the glass block. It's not keeping in style with the rest of the windows (traditional double hung), but it's on the side of the house that's not easy to see, so that's not a big factor to me.



I'm wondering if trying to find the right dimensioned standard window and install it is better/easier than reinstalling the existing glass blocks. Any insights, thoughts would be appreciated.



Please note, I see either effort as temporary since I do have plans to get the entire shower stall (and maybe bathroom) updated since the plumbing fixtures need to be replaced and part of the floor now slopes away from the drain (house settling). Given the update costs, I probably won't be able to afford that for a few years.
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall-bathroomwindowglassblock2.jpg  

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Old 01-04-2012, 03:09 PM   #2
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


I would simply attempt to take down the existing glass block, hopefully w/o breaking any, clean them up, and re-lay them. Get a bag of GB mortar (some big-box stores have it), a few GB spacers, a margin trowel, S-jointer, and some 000 fine steel wool, and you can certainly rebuild the window for less than $25. As long as you don't break a block, because they may be a hard pattern to find....

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Old 01-04-2012, 03:25 PM   #3
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


Thanks, jomama45. You make it sound easy.

And good point about the blocks themselves. I hadn't thought about the high probability I could not easily find replacement blocks and in that pattern. But I'm an artistic type, so the idea of a little artistic variation doesn't scare me.

But I don't think it will be hard to remove the blocks at this point.
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Old 01-04-2012, 03:44 PM   #4
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


Windows are not cheap particularly when you need to have them custom made to an odd size. If you bought an off-the-shelf vinyl window you'd likely need to buy a smaller size and shim out the opening. And then you'd be left with having to cover that inside and out.

I would definitely go for renovating the glass block. It really is not as hard as you might think and is considerably less work than the alternatives. Wait for a nice sunny day and then go to town on it. You could do it in an afternoon.
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Old 01-04-2012, 04:01 PM   #5
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


"Windows are not cheap particularly when you need to have them custom made to an odd size."

Thanks, Ironlight. Yeah, I had wondered about the cost/time of a custom window or the low chances of finding a salvaged one just the right size.

From what I could tell from youtube videos, one can use mortar or there's something relatively new featured by AskTheBuilder; a system of plastic panels/spacers. I'm assuming the mortar way might be a little more challenging but longer lasting.

Ah, choices.
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Old 01-04-2012, 05:15 PM   #6
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


Mortar is certainly the more challenging route, but it is well worth it IMO. You're only dealing with 12 block, it's worth the little bit of extra effort, especially seeing as you'll have to mortar in the exterior perimeter anyways.

I'm sure you'll get some advice to go the "easy" route, but the mortar route is the most time proven method out there, and is far more secure.
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Old 01-04-2012, 05:38 PM   #7
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Did you know you can order acrilic block windows with vinyl flat jambs.
Almost all vinyl windows are special ordered.
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Old 01-04-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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Not sure if this fits your situation---but---Brick yards will make up glass blocks into panels for you for a small fee--all mortared and held fast with a steel band--ready to install--
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Old 01-04-2012, 05:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
Not sure if this fits your situation---but---Brick yards will make up glass blocks into panels for you for a small fee--all mortared and held fast with a steel band--ready to install--
Yeah, that's typically what I would do, because "time is money", and even for a mason, this can be a relatively slow, putsy job. I have an excellent GB sub that builds them for a little over $7 a block, which is just a hair more than the materials in most cases. But in this case, I thought she/he was looking for a "quick & dirty" approach..............
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:17 PM   #10
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


That one I would just take down--fix the opening and build in place,too.

I am a lousy mason--so any help I can get is welcome---My best masons tool is my phone-" Hello,Walter.
I have a little job for you ,are you interested?"
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:43 PM   #11
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Thanks, I understand. I've done enough DIY in other areas to be familiar with the pluses and minuses of quick/easy route vs the time-proven route.

As soon as I find a decent enough video on youtube or somewhere on installing glass blocks with mortar, I'll feel more confident to tackle this. This will be my first block laying project.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jomama45 View Post
Mortar is certainly the more challenging route, but it is well worth it IMO. You're only dealing with 12 block, it's worth the little bit of extra effort, especially seeing as you'll have to mortar in the exterior perimeter anyways.

I'm sure you'll get some advice to go the "easy" route, but the mortar route is the most time proven method out there, and is far more secure.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:58 PM   #12
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


Yeah, I have found some online. However, I'm just not a big fan of acrylic blocks when I already have the real thing. But perhaps when I can't find the real thing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Did you know you can order acrilic block windows with vinyl flat jambs.
Almost all vinyl windows are special ordered.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:10 PM   #13
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


Thanks, Mike. I didn't know that was a possibility. I've been looking for local (San Jose, CA) brickyards. No online luck yet. I assume there is a least one, but I don't know the magic google incantation yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
Not sure if this fits your situation---but---Brick yards will make up glass blocks into panels for you for a small fee--all mortared and held fast with a steel band--ready to install--
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:19 PM   #14
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


Here is an idea, take down the glass block and trash them as they are a blight on god's earth.

Install a sliding glass window, 60" above the shower or tub floor to the bottom.

Problem solved and the Earth made a bit more lovely.

Andy.

Last edited by AndyGump; 01-04-2012 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:35 PM   #15
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Glass block window in tiled shower stall


I'd like to think I'm nobler than to fall for the "quick & dirty". However, 'tis sooooo tempting

Quote:
Originally Posted by jomama45 View Post
Yeah, that's typically what I would do, because "time is money", and even for a mason, this can be a relatively slow, putsy job. I have an excellent GB sub that builds them for a little over $7 a block, which is just a hair more than the materials in most cases. But in this case, I thought she/he was looking for a "quick & dirty" approach..............

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