How to install a glass block shower stall wall

Written by philip schmidt
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How to install a glass block shower stall wall
Textured glass block provides privacy for shower enclosures. (woman and glass blocks image by cullenphotos from Fotolia.com)

Glass block is ideally suited to shower-stall walls. Like tile, it's nearly impervious to water. Like glass, it lets light through to the shower. And like brick, it's extremely low-maintenance. For amateurs, glass block can be a little tricky to work with, and it can't be cut, so you have to plan the installation carefully. But glass-block manufacturers have made shower-stall projects much easier by offering preformed shower bases with side channels for supporting the glass-block walls. You can also purchase the precise type and number of blocks needed to complete the stall walls, along with mortar and reinforcement materials.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Preformed shower base for glass-block enclosure
  • Level
  • Glass block and plastic joint spacers
  • Tape measure
  • Glass-block panel anchors and screws
  • Drill
  • Foam expansion strips
  • Caulk
  • Glass-block mortar
  • Bricklayer's trowel
  • Jointing tool
  • Sponge
  • Rag

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Install the preformed shower base following the manufacturer's instructions. Note that most glass-block wall systems rely on an existing adjacent wall to support one end of each glass-block wall. Use a level and pencil to draw a plumb line starting at the base and going up the supporting wall to represent the inside face of the glass-block wall.

  2. 2

    Test-fit the first course of block onto the shower base, using the provided plastic spacers between blocks to simulate mortar joints for proper spacing. Mark the base for each vertical panel anchor location, as directed by the manufacturer. Also mark the supporting wall for each horizontal panel anchor, as directed.

  3. 3

    Install the vertical panel anchors onto the shower base at the marked locations, using the recommended screws. Install the horizontal anchors along the supporting wall, using the recommended screws driven into a wall stud. Add foam expansion strips between the horizontal anchors, gluing them in place with dabs of caulk or construction adhesive.

  4. 4

    Mix a batch of glass-block mortar, following the manufacturer's directions. Spread a bed layer of mortar onto the shower base channel, using a bricklayer's trowel. Set the first glass block into the mortar bed, using plastic spacers beneath the block to maintain the mortar joint thickness while the mortar sets.

  5. 5

    Spread mortar on one side edge of the next block and set the block in place with the mortared edge against the first block. Set one or two more blocks in the same manner, then check all of the blocks with a level to make sure they are aligned with one another and each block is plumb. Set the remaining blocks in the first course.

  6. 6

    Apply a mortar bed over the top of the first course of blocks, then set the second course, as before. Secure the horizontal panel anchor and add any additional reinforcement, as directed by the block manufacturer. Continue setting courses, checking every few blocks with the level to make sure they are aligned and plumb.

  7. 7

    Tool the mortar joints as soon as the mortar in the lower courses has set sufficiently, using a jointing tool. With some plastic spacers, you must remove the exposed outer tabs before tooling the joints.

  8. 8

    Repeat the process of setting block and tooling the mortar joints to complete the wall. When all of the mortar has been tooled, clean the wall with a damp sponge, then wipe the glass surfaces with a dry rag to remove cement residue.

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