DIY Building a Glass Block Wall

Written by jen anderson
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DIY Building a Glass Block Wall
A glass block wall lets in the light and can be a DIY project. (Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A glass block wall creates a privacy barrier that allows light to pass through. Glass blocks can be used for walls and partitions of varying heights, even up to the ceiling. Planning is critical when building a glass block wall because you can't cut glass blocks the way that you cut wood, metal and tile. Measure the space and consult with a sales associate at your home improvement store before buying.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Lumber
  • Saw
  • Power drill
  • Screws
  • White expansion foam
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Plastic block spacers
  • White mortar
  • Brick-laying trowel
  • Level
  • Sponge
  • Metal reinforcing rods
  • Wall ties
  • White grout
  • Grout shaper

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  1. 1

    Cut the lumber with a saw and screw it together into a rectangular frame for the wall, using a drill. Use 4-by-2-inch lumber or 3-by-2-inch lumber, depending on the width of your glass blocks. Screw the lumber frame to the floor and the adjacent wall.

  2. 2

    Cut a strip of white expansion foam the length of each side of your frame, using a utility knife. Nail the expansion foam on the inside of the wood frame with a hammer, creating a cushion that will allow the mortar to expand without damaging the glass block wall.

  3. 3

    Place plastic block spacers along the bottom of the wood frame, spaced according to the size of your glass blocks. Spread mortar on the bottom frame with a bricklaying trowel, between the spacers.

  4. 4

    Spread mortar on one side of a glass block and put it in place with the mortar facing the side frame. Press the glass block into the mortar on the bottom frame. Put mortar on the next block and place it in the same way, with the mortared side of the block touching the first block. Continue until you have placed the first row of glass blocks.

  5. 5

    Wipe excess mortar from the glass blocks with a wet sponge. Place block spacers on top of the first row of glass blocks. Rest a level on top of the glass blocks and press the blocks into the mortar as needed to make them level.

  6. 6

    Spread mortar on top of the first row of glass blocks. Screw holes in the side frame to accommodate the ends of two metal reinforcing rods. Push the ends of the rods into the holes and press the rods into the mortar.

  7. 7

    Lay the second row of glass blocks. Cut the expansion foam at the top of the second row of glass blocks. Lift the foam and screw a wall plate to the side frame, then let the expansion foam fall back into place. Repeat Step 6. Repeat this step for every second row of glass blocks.

  8. 8

    Continue laying rows of glass blocks in this manner until you are finished, or have reached six rows. Hold a level alongside the glass block wall to check that it is plumb and make the necessary adjustments. Twist each plastic spacer's faceplate to break it from the rest of the spacer and remove it. Let the mortar dry completely. If your glass block wall is more than six rows high, stopping after six rows and letting the mortar dry completely ensures that the lower rows will be able to support the weight of the upper rows.

  9. 9

    Spread grout over the joints between the glass blocks with a bricklaying trowel. Wipe excess grout from the glass blocks as you work, before it hardens. Smooth the grout lines by pressing a grout shaper along them. Let the grout dry overnight.

Tips and warnings

  • Glass block walls are sturdy, but cannot be load-bearing.
  • If your glass block wall is more than six rows tall, stop at six rows and allow the mortar to dry completely before continuing. This prevents collapse.

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