Using Glass Block in a Bathroom Renovation

Bathrooms with windows right above a bath tub or in the shower area are bad news. If you use the shower regularly, you'll eventually damage the window. Replacing that window with glass block will provide the light you desire and help you to fully use your shower again.

Many homes have a typical 5 foot wide x 7 foot long bathroom with either a tub or shower that is visible when entering the room. In addition there is a window in the bath tub or shower area. This limits the shower's use. When one uses the shower, water and humidity over time can destroy a wooden window.

Hall bath with glass block lets light in

Homeowners have used a number of approaches to reduce the damage to their windows and to enable them to use the shower. They have:

  1. Foregone the shower and just used the bath tub,
  2. Used the shower just when they have guests,
  3. Hung a separate and clear shower curtain in front of the window to protect it,
  4. Installed a circular shower curtain used with claw foot tubs, whichprevents water from hitting the window,
  5. Removed the window, bricked it up and tiled over it or
  6. Just don't use the shower or bathtub.

We're not very enthusiastic about using a shower curtain (item 3). It will work, but it just does not look good. You will also have to run your shower fan to prevent that moisture from damaging your window. Ditto for the circular shower curtain.

Our Solution- Use Glass Block
We solved this problem by using glass blocks in place of the window. The glass block creates a nice design and lets light into the house as shown by the photo below.

As shown below, the glass block window also provides a nice clean look in the bathroom. Glass block comes in a variety of styles that range from clear glass to frosted with a variety of designs. No matter what style you select, they all will provide the required privacy. We selected a clear glass that was wavy. See the Pittsburgh Corning website for a closer look.

Glass block in typical 5 x 7 bathroom with tub

Glass blocks come in a number of uniform sizes. Remember, you can not cut them and will have to plan your space to accommodated whole blocks. For do-it-yourselfers, take a look at Pittsburgh Corning's Project Planner which we found helpful. Any mason should be able to do the job for you and make sure that the glass blocks are level with your masonry or outside siding. Then your ceramic tile installer can place tiles and around the glass block and on the bottom.

Take a closer look below. The tiled area created at the base of the glass block is great for holding shampoos, body wash and other bathing items.

Close up of ledge and glass block used in bath tub area

All told, we think that glass blocks are a very good solution. They allow us to fully use our shower without fear of damaging a window and provide a handy space for those accessories. Best of all they let that light in.