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How to Build a Glass Block Shower Enclosure

Have you ever looked at something or somebody that looked great on the outside but once you explored the inside you were sorely disappointed? Outsides can be deceiving. The quality that is not visible in a glass block shower enclosure is what makes the difference in the walls performance and quality over time. Learn how to incorporate quality into your next shower project by using the right materials and right people to help you.

Step 1
It begins with the shower base - Since glass blocks cannot be cut it's important to choose the type and size shower pan or base while you're in the design process. The advantages and disadvantages of the three basic types are explained below.
Acrylic bases - The advantages are they have no seems, are easy to clean and are simple and quick to install. Some disadvantages of acrylic bases is that they are available in limited sizes (there is currently a 60" x 32" and 60" x 34" models for tub to shower conversions & a 72" x 51" for a larger walk in shower in white and biscuit colors), cannot be customized, and it is sometimes difficult to fit the base into rooms that are getting remodeled.

• Custom mud set pan bases - The most common method used in more stylish custom showers is the custom mud set pan base. This base is created on site and it's advantage is it can be customized to size and then tile, granite or marble installed over it. The disadvantage is the process is messy, time consuming, and if it's not done right will be more prone to leaks and water damage down the road.

• 100% Waterproof Extruded Polystyrene Foam Bases - Extruded polystyrene bases can be customized and are 100% waterproof because this material (like a styra-foam coffee cup) does not absorb water. Other advantages include shorter installation times, a neater installation, and improved quality because the pan is pre-slopped in the factory. The disadvantage is the initial purchase price is higher.


Step 2
Use Quality Materials on the Adjoining walls - The construction underneath the walls adjoining to the block should not be overlooked. Most projects today use water resistant materials like green board or masonry boards. Although these materials will work if the materials installed over them are done correctly (meaning the finished tile, granite, acrylic walls that are fastened onto the adjoining shower walls), sometimes grouted joints fail leading to water and mold problems. Consider using a Wedi building panel to eliminate future problems. This backer material is waterproof because it uses a core foam interior (closed cell system) and a polymer and cement based outside which makes it ready for tile right after it's installed. In addition the panels are light and not messy to cut.

Step 3

Reinforce and anchor the glass block shower wall - When building your shower wall don't skimp on what's inside the wall to ensure it's got the rigidity and support needed for long term performance. The two most popular reinforcement and anchoring systems are either (a) vinyl stack horizontal and vertical spacers or (b) galvanized wire reinforcing and panel anchors. The vinyl stack spacers are non-porous and generally easier to use for those who are less familiar with glass block shower enclosure installations. In most cases it is recommended to anchor your wall every 24" in height to the adjoining walls.

Step 4
Use prefabricated glass block wall sections - Laying blocks unit by unit at the site is time consuming and requires a higher skill level. A way to make the project easier and improve quality is to purchase prefabricated wall sections. These panels can be designed in sizes and configurations that make them simple to install (with the vinyl stack spacer system mentioned above you can literally stack one glass section on top of another). With vinyl stack after all the panels are set and anchored, the wall can be grouted with the same material you're using in the adjoining walls for color consistency.

Step 5
Get Qualified Help - Let's face it - you don't go to your family doctor if you need heart surgery. Success will usually begin with finding the right contractors and suppliers to help you through the process. If you're not a do it yourselfer try to seek out contractors that have successfully performed glass block shower and walk in shower installations. If you'd like to tackle this project on your own you will find the pre-made wall sections and vinyl stack systems to improve the finished quality and make your life easier.

Contact:novalglass      Released time:2010-12-15 19:17:37
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