Tom Shafer

Glass blocks: Good alternative to a window?

November 04, 2015

Need some privacy but don't want to sacrifice a window? There's another option: glass blocks. They can be installed either in a pre-made frame or laid like a brick wall. While not a traditional window, blocks fill the openings well, and they offer both security and light.

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One of the places glass blocks are commonly used are basement windows. It's a great location for them because they still let in light to notoriously dark space, but they also add some extra security. That's because inexpensive, traditional aluminum basement window frames can be easily opened from the exterior. A glass block window here can help secure the opening. There are also pre-made glass block windows with a built in vent for air circulation or venting a clothes dryer.

Aluminum window frames also don't have great insulation, but glass blocks' insulating value rivals windows that have excellent low-e glass and solar heat gain coefficient ratings.

Interior windows or wall separations are also a good use for glass blocks. Have a shower with no door? A wall of glass blocks provides privacy, and it's safer than traditional glass. Another popular use for blocks is over a bathtub. Tempered glass is required here by building code, but acrylic glass blocks fit the use, the insulating value, and of course the tempered requirement.

Perhaps best of all, the price of glass block windows are about one-fifth that of regular windows.

Since glass blocks are available in many shapes and in a variety of designs, you have a lot of flexibility in where and how you can use them. Whatever design, shape, or location you choose, glass blocks are sure to give your home a distinctive look.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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