Glass block walls in outdoor living spaces are a happy, natural combination. Each heightens the unique beauty and sparkle of the other through the interplay of contrasting forms, light, and the dance of the hidden and revealed. Because of these qualities, glass block walls are often used to create a smooth transition from indoor to outdoor spaces, for example, in a deck or patio area, allowing light to circulate while still maintaining privacy. But a deck or patio isn’t the only outdoor space around the house that could benefit from using a glass block wall. The durability of glass block makes it ideal for a variety of exterior glass block wall projects. We’ll go through a few ideas to whet your appetite before getting into the basic procedure on building a glass block wall outdoors.
Glass Block Wall for the Deck or Patio Area
The deck or patio area — that liminal space between the house and garden — is the ideal location for a glass block wall. A glass block wall offers protection from sun, wind and rain while still allowing the transmission of light. This makes it perfect as a deck partition, flooring or awning.
A glass block wall can also be used to introduce an aesthetic point of interest to this in between space. For example, a glass block wall can add architectural definition between the patio and the garden beyond by establishing the boundary, but without blocking the view. The contrast of glass block with natural materials such as stone or wood is spectacular. This fact along with the different glass block sizes, degrees of transparency, patterns and colors leaves plenty of room for stunning design and innovation.
In densely packed urban buildings such condos or townhouses, a glass block wall can provide privacy between balconies or patios while still permitting transmission of light, avoiding the cooped up feel of these tight, closed-in spaces.
Glass Block Wall Elsewhere Around Your Property
Glass block walls can be used anywhere you need a privacy partition but don’t want to block light. For example, one of Quality Glass Block’s customers put a colorful glass block wall on top of a short privacy wall to protect her pool area while keeping an open, light-filled and fun atmosphere. Outdoor glass block showers are beautiful and practical around the pool as well.
Glass block pillars, either full glass block pillars or glass block on top of stone and lighted from within make a spectacular feature around the entrance of your property.
Using glass block for one or two of the walls of a small greenhouse adds aesthetic interest while helping with heat insulation.
Any number of other garden structures using modified glass block walls, such as planters, an outdoor bar, a fountain…the list is as long as your imagination, can add a beautiful focal point to your garden as well as functionality.
How to build a glass block wall outdoors
We recommend using mortar as the adhesive when building outdoor glass block walls and structures. Mortar is more weather resistant and will therefore be more durable. While we provide resources and detailed instructions elsewhere on the Quality Glass Block website, here is the general procedure.
- Measure. Measure the height and width of the wall you would like to build
- Choose the blocks. Generally, an exterior wall using mortar is built with 3 or 4 inch thick glass block. Besides their thickness, glass block comes in a range of sizes, patterns and colors. If you are planning a wall that incorporates a number of different sizes and colors, create a blueprint with careful measurements. Glass block can not be cut.
- Build a foundation. Make sure it is absolutely level and moisture resistant.
- Mix the mortar. Carefully follow the instructions on the tile mortar mix.
- Apply a bed of mortar to the foundation with a brick trowel.
- Lay the first row, leveling as you work and adding mortar and spacers as you proceed.
- Use anchors and reinforcement rods every two feet for strength and stability.
- Clean. When the wall is completed, use a damp cloth to remove any mortar from the face of the blocks. Allow the mortar to cure for 24 to 48 hours.
- Seal the joints and perimeter with a glass block sealant.
Inspired to Build Your Own Outdoor Glass Block Wall?
The experts at Quality Glass Block can help you work through the details of your vision, recommending the best materials and installation methods. We absolutely love the creativity of our customers and always enjoy hearing about the outcome of their projects.