9 Tips for Building a Stylish Curved Wall Using Glass Blocks

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated November 29, 2021
large bathroom with shower and tub
chandlerphoto via G etty Images

Create a curved wall using glass blocks for a retro, throwback moment

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Glass block walls were the height of fashion in the 1980s before falling out of style in the decades to follow. But you might be happy to hear that this Art Deco design trend is experiencing a revival as of late, especially in bathrooms, offices, and kitchens. 

Glass block walls are known for their durable and insulating qualities, plus they’re less expensive than sheets of curved glass. This type of wall can look retro or contemporary, depending on your style.

For novice DIYers, building a curved wall using glass blocks may seem like a daunting prospect. Even if you don’t plan to tackle the project yourself, knowing what to ask for when hiring a pro can be overwhelming. Follow these tips to help you design and install the curved glass wall of your dreams.

1. Consider Where a Curved Glass Block Wall Fits Best

shower with curved glass
chandlerphoto via Getty Images

Many homeowners use glass blocks for windows and skylights because they let in lots of natural light while still maintaining privacy. But if you want to create a curved effect with glass blocks, they're most appropriate for walls. 

The first step to creating a curved wall using glass blocks is determining the best location for it. The room most people associate with curved glass block walls is the bathroom, specifically for doorless shower enclosures. But you can also use them as a room divider or a partition wall. This option works well for creating entry hallways or blocked-off spaces in large, open-plan rooms. Smaller curved walls can even be eye-catching design accents on things like kitchen breakfast bars.

2. Determine the Type of Curve You Want

The size and shape of the curvature will depend on where and how you plan to use your glass block wall. Sweeping curves are subtle and typically have an inside radius of more than 38 inches. Using glass blocks to create a wall with a tight inner radius of less than 38 inches is expected in a smaller space, like shower enclosures.  

Sweeping Curves

With this type of curved wall, you can choose between an individual, wide-angle curve or an S-shaped curve, which works well for larger partition walls or room dividers. 

To build these types of sweeping curves, you have to apply glass block mortar to every joint as you lay the blocks. The mortar also needs to be thicker on the outside edge than it is on the inner one to create an even curve effect. You can build sweeping curves using individual glass blocks, but it’s a tricky job that’s often best left to the professional glass block installers.

Tight Curves

This type of curve is relatively easy to create because you can buy prefabricated blocks that already have a curve. If you’re a DIYer who wants to complete the project yourself, prefabricated blocks make it possible to build a tight curve wall on your own, plus it improves the quality of the finish because of the consistently neat and small joint size.

3. Use Glass Block Spacers to Make the Build Easier

If you’re creating the curved glass block wall by yourself, investing in glass block spacers is a must. It’s a challenge—even for some pros—to keep the slippery blocks level when stacking them. These plastic spacers hold the blocks in position, and you can grout over them to achieve an even finish. 

4. Set the First Course Securely

If you’re doing the installation yourself, take extra time to set the first course of blocks. If the blocks don’t adhere to each other or they aren’t level, it will knock off any future work, and the result will be an untidy or unsecure wall. 

5. Always Use Glass Block Mortar

If you’re struggling to find glass block mortar at your local hardware store, don’t be tempted to purchase the more readily available brick mortar. This type of material contains too much water, and glass blocks don’t wick it away like porous bricks do. 

The specialized water-resistant additives found in glass block mortar hold better over time, which is especially important if you are installing glass blocks in a shower area. Luckily, there are lots of online suppliers that sell glass block mortar.

6. Don’t Use Glass Blocks in Load-Bearing Walls

Glass blocks might be thick and durable, but that doesn’t mean they’re suitable for bearing a significant load of weight. If glass blocks are installed in load-bearing walls, cracks can develop over time, and the wall could collapse. Stick to using them for partition walls or room dividers to avoid a toppling disaster.

7. Don’t Use Glass Blocks on Weak Floors

Because the glass blocks are heavy, large walls made out of them can cause a structural problem, especially if the floors or their supporting framework are weak or suffering from damage. When in doubt, hire a pro to conduct a floor inspection where they can check for signs of rot or other damage, as well as measure the overall load capacity of your floor. You may need to install additional structural support boards to prevent warping, sinking, or collapse.

8. Opt for Unique Finishes for a Personalized Touch

You don’t have to opt for the standard transparent glass blocks with which we’re all familiar. If you want to add a personal touch or match the glass block wall with other design elements in your home, you can choose from a wide range of colored, patterned, or frosted finishes. For an artistic flair, you can even incorporate glass blocks with etched designs or murals on them.

9. Don’t Hesitate to Call in the Pros

Building a prefabricated curved glass block wall requires precision and patience. It’s a similar process to bricklaying, but with the added challenge of using slippery glass blocks. 

If not done correctly, cracks can appear in the mortar, weakening the structure. Poor joint sealing can also result in leaks and rapid mold and mildew development in a shower enclosure. If you’re not confident in your DIY abilities, hire a local glass block installer to tackle the project.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.