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An all-encompassing glass block windows guide for homeowners

If you want to ensure the highest privacy while staying in some areas of your home, consider installing windows made of glass blocks. These stylish units are not only energy-efficient and eye-pleasing but secure in terms of privacy. Despite their multiple advantages, glass block windows are extremely difficult to install and require thorough maintenance at least once a year. That is why before making your final decision about this window type, make sure to consider if they are right for your home and budget. This mini buying guide is made to help you evaluate all pros and cons of glass block windows. You will learn about the national average costs of these decorative windows, their types, styles, and distinctive features. Keep reading to make a well-thought-out decision on whether these windows can become a great addition to your home.

An all-encompassing glass block windows guide for homeowners

What is a glass block window?

Glass bricks were invented in the early 1900s using pre-existing prism principles to let more natural light into dim premises where privacy should be maintained. Windows of this type are less common these days, but they're still seen in bathrooms, hallways, and basements. Besides, they're used as architectural elements to bring zest to the interior. 

Compared to traditional windows, which usually come with a single clear pane, glass block windows are made of multiple thick glass bricks combined in a single unit to ensure maximum security. Standard glass block windows are translucent, yet they fill a room with enough light, creating tricks of light and shadow. Their design provides maximum privacy for those inside the building but does not allow them to see through the glass masonry. These windows are fixed and do not let any fresh air inside the room. That is why they're commonly accompanied by operable units.

Where do glass bricks work best?

These bricks have long been used in homes to bring natural light and the feeling of seclusion. If you seek privacy with an Art Déco flair, you can't do any better than installing a cupped glass brick window in front of your house or a privacy glass screen in the bath. 

Here are some popular areas of the house where glass block windows work best:

  • Foyers
  • Entrances
  • Basements
  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Showers
  • Front hallways

What are the pros and cons of glass block windows installation?

The pros of glass blocks

Many advantages come with installing windows made of multiple opaque blocks, primarily if they're based on the ground floor, bathrooms, or basements. Let's look at some of their key benefits:

  • Energy efficiency 

Due to their thickness, glass blocks isolate and provide superior thermal protection compared to single-pane windows. They are compared with double-pane and triple-pane windows known for their excellent energy-saving properties. From a construction point of view, glass block windows appear more airtight compared to traditional units with wooden and vinyl frames, which, of course, helps you save some money on energy costs.

  • Aesthetic appeal

Glass bricks are not only great for your exterior windows. They also provide a striking, premier look for wet bars, shower doors, partition walls, and garage windows. Plus, you can choose from various designs, colors, patterns, and even customized blocks.

  • Year-round comfort

Some glass block windows use low-emissivity glass that minimizes the heat that can penetrate inside. As a result, they shield the home from the heat during the summer season. Similarly, they prevent the heat from escaping the house in cold months, making them a solid solution for all-year-round comfort in your home.

  • Security and privacy

Most homeowners prefer to use glass block windows for many different reasons because they are highly versatile. And this is especially true because, apart from delivering plenty of natural light, glass bricks also offer enough privacy since they are not transparent. And because they are secure, they might, for example, seal your basement from flood destruction. This is one of the common reasons homeowners convert to glass bricks to make their basement windows more secure and virtually waterproof.

The cons of glass blocks

Although multiple benefits come from installing windows of this style, there are also some drawbacks to take note of. 

Here are the primary cons associated with getting glass block windows:

  • High price

Glass bricks are typically more expensive than traditional windows as they are complicated and time-consuming to install. Their cost often varies depending on the size and type of glass block window installation. In general, however, you'll be charged anywhere between $500 and $1.000, including installation.

  • Maintenance

When choosing glass block windows, you should consider their maintenance costs. To keep enjoying their energy-saving properties for years, you must have them resealed at least once every 18 months. Their replacement is also costly as it's associated with a complex, multi-step process.

  • Ventilation

In contrast to most standard operable windows that often provide sufficient airflow to a home, glass block windows are built in a way that they don't accommodate air ventilation. This means that you'll need an alternative solution to keep your home free of humid air if you install glass brick windows in rooms that often experience high humidity levels.

  • Extra structural support

One of the critical benefits of glass block windows is that they are heavy-duty. This means they don't just provide better security but also require very minimal maintenance. But, before a glass block windows installation, it's crucial to consider their overall weight. This is because, in most cases, the wall without extra support cannot bear the weight of glass blocks. 

How much does a glass block window cost?

The cost per block of pre-built glass windows varies from $18 to $25 per square, depending on their size and finish. Frosted or partially transparent units have a higher price than regular glass ones without any finish. The national average cost for glass block windows, including material and installation, goes from $460 to $1.200. The custom variations of glass blocks usually require a higher initial investment as only a few contractors can build them from scratch. On the contrary, pre-built glass blocks require less effort to be installed and might possess better energy efficiency. 

Here are the costs of installing glass block windows depending on their size: 

  • 25" by 25" inches starts from $60 to $300
  • 31" by 31" inches starts from $65 to $350
  • 36" by 36" inches starts from $85 to $475
  • 48" by 48" inches starts from $155 to $840

The costs of glass block windows replacement by style

There are a few glass block designs you can choose from. They vary in appearance, finish, transparency level, energy-efficient properties, and costs. With that said, let's have a look at some of the most popular glass block designs and their estimated costs:

  • Clear blocks

It helps to know that clear glass blocks are made of sand, limestone, bullets, and soda ash. The combination is then heated, melted, and later shaped into glass bricks. These glass blocks appear to be solid, long-lasting, and energy-saving. You can expect to pay up to $7 per block in classic style. If you decide you want unique or custom-made shapes, you might as well end up paying up to $25 per block, respectively.

  • Colored blocks

With this window type, you can expect to spend up to $20 per block on average. However, depending on the color, the cost can rise to $35 per block. Colored blocks are almost similar to clear blocks, but they provide less visibility.

  • Acrylic blocks

In brief, acrylic glass blocks attract an estimated cost of $12 to $20 per block. This material is typically long-lasting and tougher compared to glass.

  • Wavy blocks

Glass blocks of this style are one of the most sought-after. They match nearly any type of room, allowing enough daylight and creating an intricate light play in the room. Depending on the selected pattern and glass quality, they usually cost from $11 to $25 per block. 

  • Alpha blocks

Single alpha glass blocks cost between $10 and $20 on average. They always come in vast colors and are especially common in basements and living spaces. The key detail of these bricks is a large circle at the center of the clear glass. 

  • Ice blocks

Ice glass blocks emphasize wave patterns that deliver privacy without obstructing light. In fact, this is why most homeowners choose them to install in their bathrooms. Furthermore, ice blocks typically cost $15, but sometimes the price can rise to $30 per block, depending on your design taste.

  • Diamond blocks

These unique glass block windows are designed to ensure complete privacy inside the room. Their woven pattern allows light to come through glass bricks while enhancing the comfort and appearance of any room. The average cost of diamond glass blocks is $15 per square.

DIY or professional glass block windows installation

Pre-fabricated glass blocks are one of the simplest to install as they come fully assembled to fit the required opening size. You can mount them in any residential masonry, which makes the window contractors' job easier and lower their rates. Installing pre-fabricated kits as a DIY project usually costs between $170 and $450. However, it's highly recommended to entrust this kind of job to a professional as glass blocks are heavy and require certain efforts to be mounted in the opening. Besides, it is necessary if you want to have your windows properly fabricated and sealed.

If you want to save your efforts on looking for local glass block window installers, MyHomeQuote is always here to have your back. Our ramified base of licensed window professionals allows us to connect you with the ideal match just in a matter of minutes. You only need to answer a couple of questions about the window type you seek to install, preferable frame material, and your location, and our managers will take about the rest.

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