Perhaps the coolest innovation to be developed in glass blocks has been the addition of standard and custom colors in all sizes and shapes. Most people are unaware of the options available or are unsure how to put their project together to use colors to create the right design and effect. These 7 simple steps can help you make the right block selection for you.
1. Where do you want to use colored glass blocks? The first decision is determining what type of project you have in mind. Answer these questions:
Is the project on the inside or outside of the home or building? Some blocks are designed for both interior and exterior applications, others are for the inside only.
Are you building a window, a wall, or shower or bar? Although there are several color manufacturers there is only one company?s process that is capable of adding color to shaped blocks. These shaped blocks are used most frequently in walls, showers, and bar applications. The shaped units come in various sizes and can be used to finish off the end of a wall, step a wall down (double-ended blocks), turn radiuses, and even create 45 degree angles.
2. What type of colors or tints do you want? Ask yourself, ?Do I want more vibrant colors or softer, more muted shades?? The more vibrant colored glass blocks are generally created using a patented process where the blocks are drilled and filled with a polymeric color coating and then resealed. The vibrant color blocks are available in a wide selection of sizes and shaped blocks. For many of the softer color shades the color tends to be integral to the block (the color is created using different metals in the manufacturing process), but the color selection is more limited. Here are just some of the color selections in the vibrant vs. the muted softer tones:
Vibrant color selection from drill and fill process – amethyst purple, emerald green, garnet magenta, sapphire dark blue, topaz orange, ruby red, sage, cinnamon, key lime, saffron, and pink champagne, evening sky, glacier, sky, smoke, ocean, cobalt, and seafoam. (you?ll note that you can also get muted colors with the drill and fill process as well).
Muted color selection from integral manufactured color process – cloudy blue, cloudy red, cloudy green, Wave Dark Blue, Wave Bronze, & Wave Green
3. What sizes of glass blocks do you need for your project? Standard (non-shaped) american sized blocks come in 4? x 8?, 6? x 6?, 6? x 8?, 8? x 8? and 12? x 12? sizes, and the most commonly available metric size is 7 ?? x 7 ??. If you choose the integral manufactured processed blocks the size selection is generally limited to only 8? x 8? and 7 ?? x 7 ?? sizes (with no shaped blocks available). With the drill and fill process you can get any size or shaped unit you need.
4. Would you like a mirrored or reflective look for your project? The newest innovation has been the introduction of multi-colored dichroic (dichroic means two or more colors) glass blocks. These blocks allow you to see more than one color when viewing them from different angles and improves light transmission because light is both reflected back and transmitted through the blocks. This process uses a dielectric coating which is applied on the inside face of one side of the block (using silver, gold, chromium, aluminum, zirconium, silicon, and magnesium) which are applied a high temperature vacuum furnace. The blocks come in 7 ?? x 7 ?? x 3 1/8? thick sizes in multiple patterns.
5. What is your budget? Wouldn?t it be great if all these colors and options where the same price as clear blocks! Unfortunately that is not the case. In general the color units are 2 to 5 times more expensive than their clear counterparts. Given this fact color glass blocks can be used for an entire wall, shower or window, but most often are used to accent a project. Sometimes these accents are randomly placed blocks, or stripes in a wall, or designs created within the wall (a recent project involved creating a ruby red colored Ohio State University Block O in a wall) etc.
6. How do you want to purchase this product? Ok, if you?re not an experienced mason or tile contractor the thought of purchasing blocks and putting them together yourself might be daunting. Fortunately there are options that can make it easier for a do it yourselfer or someone who?d like to rely on an expert craftsperson to get it right the first time. Blocks can be purchased one of 3 ways:
i. Bought individually and installed unit by unit (generally the toughest way to do a block project which requires the highest skil ).
ii. Purchased a prefabricated glass block window, wall or shower assemblies ? This option has grown dramatically in recent years since there are systems like Vinyl Stack where the assemblies can be shipped across the country and then grout or silicone installed at the job site as the final process.
iii. Installed by a professional ? this is obviously the easiest option and usually has the added benefits of coming with an installation guarantee.
7. Still confused, then call in the specialist. Since glass block windows, showers and walls are not a common project for most people, it may be easiest to let your fingers (via a phone call, web search or email) do the walking. Call a block design, fabrication or installation professional who is familiar with the color and installation options and processes to guide you through your project and do the work for you.