Do you know what glass blocks are? We conducted a survey among buyers of building materials stores and found out: our people have a rather poor idea of what it is. Some said that glass blocks are something glassy and large (about a meter by a meter and even more). Others have argued that it is a finished frame with double or triple glazing. Several people surprised with an intricate answer like “this is such pressed glass wool” and “this is when there are many layers of glass” … Then we asked a leading question: “Remember, there were such walls in the toilets of the stagnant period, built of“ bricks ”made of thick bottle-colored glass ? ” – “A-ah, that’s what you mean,” many recalled. – So this is completely ugly. And they don’t need anything at home! ”
Indeed, those glass blocks, from which the walls were once made in factory workshops, boiler rooms, public baths, shops, with which the stairwells of residential and public buildings were laid out, will hardly be useful for home “use”. There really was little aesthetics in this.
But none of our interlocutors knew that in fact today glass blocks are an amazing thing. And even more so that now they are experiencing a rebirth.
Glass walls, hard as bricks
Brief technical characteristics
GOST 9272 – 81 states that glass blocks are “products with a hermetically sealed cavity formed as a result of joining two pressed glass plates (half-half-blocks)”. Each half is made of thick glass (6 – 7 mm). The shape of the glass block really looks like a brick, only inside this “brick” is hollow and in some way even resembles double-glazed windows, which are placed in modern windows. The air inside the glass block gives this material excellent heat-saving and sound-insulating properties..
The surface of such a “brick” can be smooth, corrugated, transparent, matte and even colored. Most often, glass blocks with a thickness of 7.5 to 10 cm are on sale today. The weight of one glass “brick” is from 2.5 to 4.3 kg. As a rule, glass blocks are square or rectangular in shape. The standard dimensions of modern glass blocks are 19 x 19 x 8 cm or 24 x 24 x 8 cm. However, keep in mind that in the price lists of the company they usually indicate the dimensions in millimeters. There are also so-called “halves” on sale (their dimensions are 19 x 9 x 8 cm or 24 x 11.5 x 8 cm). In addition, glass blocks are also triangular, angular (for finishing corners, columns, etc.) and even round.
Glass blocks took all the best from their “parents”. As you know, walls and partitions are erected from brick; this is a good heat-saving material. The glass does not burn, it transmits light well. These are the beneficial qualities that glass blocks have.
Internal partitions made of glass blocks let in light and successfully complement the interior, separating the kitchen from the dining room, the living room from the study, the bedroom from the bathroom…
Moreover, they went beyond their “ancestors”. On the one hand, glass blocks (especially colorless ones) transmit light as well as glass: this means that there is no need to put windows in a wall made of glass blocks. On the other hand, glass blocks are not such a fragile material as glass. Therefore, they can be used to build graceful internal partitions and even building facades. Only in this case, you need to take translucent glass blocks.
But what is especially valuable is that such a wall, in contrast to a brick or drywall, does not need to be plastered, painted, or pasted over with wallpaper. It is easy to look after her: washed – and that’s it.
And now you need to understand: what are modern glass blocks and what other qualities does this unfairly forgotten building material have??
High strength. Walls made of glass blocks can withstand significant temperature changes (from -40 to + 50 ° C). They are very durable – they do not care even for a slight earthquake. To break a glass block, you need to try, taking a heavier object for this – for example, a sledgehammer. This applies to glass blocks made of ordinary thick glass. And what can we say about the bulletproof! There are some, however, in our market they are still a rarity.
But what if, through negligence, you have broken several “bricks”? There is no need to shout in despair: “Everything is lost!” We advise you to keep a few pieces of spare glass blocks in stock. In which case, you need to carefully knock out the damaged glass blocks and insert new ones in their place..
Glass blocks are not only suitable for walls. They can be used to make ceilings and roofs, vaults and awnings.
Good thermal and sound insulation. The air space inside the glass block retains heat perfectly. Abroad, by the way, they have long understood that glass blocks are an excellent energy-saving building material, and they use it with might and main. In addition, glass blocks are a good sound insulator. By the way, their sound-absorbing properties are approximately the same as those of a brick wall of similar thickness. Experts checked: if you build two identical walls – one of bricks, the other of glass blocks, then they “extinguish” street noise in approximately the same way.
Non-flammability. One of the most remarkable properties of glass blocks is that they do not burn. Or, as the firemen say, do not sustain combustion. Moreover, in the event of a fire, a wall of glass blocks remains intact (that is, it does not crack or melt) for more than 60 minutes. Imagine, a whole hour or more! Probably, this is also why this material is so actively used for the construction of walls in rooms that have serious fire safety requirements: for example, in the workshops of chemical industry enterprises … But I assure you, if a fire happens at home, then glass blocks may suddenly turn out to be the only protection until arrival of firefighters.
Lighting properties. Following the terminology of specialists, we can say that glass blocks are translucent (with a smooth surface of the front walls), light-scattering and light-guiding (these effects are usually possessed by glass blocks with corrugated surfaces). So, choosing the color, texture and pattern of glass blocks, you need to clearly understand where and why they will serve you.
The use of glass blocks
Imported glass blocks are distinguished by a rich selection of shapes and colors and give a lot of room for imagination.
Glass bricks are mainly used for the construction of curtain walls (external and internal). External walls made of glass “bricks” are indispensable in factories, factories and other enterprises where a lot of light is required, but ordinary windows cannot be put in frames. Glass blocks are used to lay out openings on staircases – it is also convenient and practical (it is more difficult to break than ordinary glass, but they give light).
In sports complexes, locker rooms are finished with glass blocks, walls and windows are made of them in sports halls, as well as swimming pools, saunas and other wet rooms.
As for living quarters, recently glass blocks have become a very fashionable material that allows you to find the most unexpected solutions in interior design. Now they are used to make walls in toilets and bathrooms (they say that the silhouette of a person washing in the shower looks very erotic), internal partitions or simply insert glass blocks into the walls as a decorative element.
However, glass blocks are suitable not only for walls. They decorate the ceilings and roofs in private houses, make vaults and awnings, attics and winter gardens from them.
But the main thing is that now glass blocks, and in our country, have already begun to be perceived not just as a dull heritage of the Soviet era, but as a beautiful and modern finishing material. What? It turns out to be spacious, elegant, warm, light and reliable enough.
Hit-parade of glass blocks
Now in our stores and on construction markets glass blocks manufactured in Russia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany and Italy are sold.
Two in one: wall and window
Glass “bricks” of our manufacturers really resemble real bricks – the same uneven, poorly polished and processed. Domestic glass blocks are either transparent or some kind of dirty green color. One consolation – they are cheap and understand with a bang. “Who needs them?” – you ask. The fact is that glass blocks are simply irreplaceable in textile enterprises, factory shops, and chemical plants. If you make ordinary windows there, then the frames will very quickly collapse from harmful gases and vapors. And so he put the glass blocks: there is light, and there is no need to change the frames – both the window and the wall in one bottle. So Russian enterprises, sports institutions buy cheap glass blocks …
The simplest and most unpretentious glass blocks are made in Belarus, at a plant in Grodno. These “bricks” are exactly the same “bottle” color. Size – 194 x 194 x 98 mm, only two types of ornaments – diamonds and small flowers with arcs. Price – 25 rubles per piece.
The situation is a little better with Russian glass blocks, which are made in the Bryansk region at the StarSteklo plant. They are colorless and transparent. The assortment of patterns is richer. In addition to the standard size (194 x 194 x 98 mm), glass blocks 78 mm thick are made in Bryansk. They are only slightly inferior in their noise and heat insulation properties to their “thicker” congeners, but they allow a little to save space inside the room. The price of Bryansk glass blocks is also 25 rubles per piece.
Imported glass blocks compare favorably with domestic products. First of all – a rich selection of colors and shades (blue, light blue, red, brown, pink, etc.), a variety of textures and patterns (with a wave, in a rhombus, square, strip, flower, marbled, matte, transparent … ), different sizes and shapes (square, rectangular, round, triangular, angular …).
For example, glass blocks from the Czech company VitraBlok. A wide selection of ornaments and colors: from colorless and pale to rich – green, red, blue, yellow. By the way, bright colors, which are not very popular abroad, are very popular with our customers. Apparently, our compatriots miss the colorful life. It can be said unequivocally: in general, Czech “glass bricks” are high-quality and relatively inexpensive material. The price of one piece is from $ 3.9 to $ 11.9 (the most expensive are colored frosted glass blocks). So, in terms of price and quality ratio, Czech glass blocks are the best option for those who want it to be beautiful, but not very expensive..
You can’t take your eyes off the glass blocks of the Italian company Vetroarredo – the beauty is extraordinary. It feels like it’s not glass at all, but crystal. The colors are soft, pastel. However, I warn you: Italian glass blocks are an expensive pleasure – from $ 7 to $ 20 per piece. Trying to find out how Italian glass blocks differ from similarly priced German ones, I called several finishing firms. There I was amicably confirmed that the Italians have one glass block narrower or wider than the other by 2 – 3 mm, which complicates the installation process.
If you have decided to fork out radically and create something unusual and unique in your home, I advise you to purchase exclusive stained glass blocks from the Italian company Cogir Glass at a price of $ 17 to $ 49 per piece. Is it expensive? Yes. But amazingly beautiful. During the production process, these glass blocks are applied, or, more correctly, “poured” a pattern of the smallest balls of colored glass. From such glass blocks, you can lay out whole panels with images of birds, animals, landscapes, abstract drawings, etc..
And yet, one of the most solid and high-quality, according to professionals, are German glass blocks. Not only are they also famous for their beauty, but also their sizes do not “jump”, which is very important during installation. Prices for German glass blocks are from $ 3.5 to $ 20 per piece. On our market are the products of the companies “Vek” (Weck) and “Solaris” (Solaris).
In addition, glass blocks produced by the French concern Saint-Gobain are sold in Russia. The assortment is very wide – they have, by the way, round and bulletproof glass blocks. But, unfortunately, the company works only with large wholesale buyers. For this reason, we could not find out even the approximate prices for their products …
How to pack them?
Although glass blocks are “planted” on cement mortar, like ordinary bricks, do not forget that they are glass and must be installed carefully, observing some subtleties.
Subtlety 1st. Many glass blocks, especially matte ones, are covered with a protective film. So, it needs to be torn off not before installation, as inexperienced builders often do, but after the work is finished. Otherwise, the glass blocks may be scratched. And if your “bricks” are not protected by anything, before starting work, their surface can be covered with tape – you never know what.
In general, the cement mortar should not contain large grains of sand so as not to scratch the surface of the products. But if it does hit the surface of the glass block, you need to immediately wash it off with water, and not wait until it dries. After all, then it will have to be torn off with a metal scraper or knife, which will probably scratch the glass.
Subtlety 2nd. For stacking glass blocks, it is better to use special plastic spacer crosses ($ 0.25 per piece). Then the installation of glass blocks will go faster, and the wall will turn out to be neat: a strictly fixed distance of 1 cm remains between adjacent glass blocks.
Subtlety 3rd. To make the wall made of “glass bricks” even stronger, it is necessary to lay metal rods with a cross section of 4 – 6 mm in the cement joints (they are sold in any construction market). The rods are reinforced vertically and horizontally at the joints between glass blocks.
Subtlety 4th. After you have built the desired structure, you should think about cement joints. After all, if they remain gray, it will ruin the appearance. So what can you do? For example, you can cover the seams with colored “grout” for tiles. Better yet, put glass blocks directly on colored cement, which is sold in many hardware stores. There you can also find colored pigments that are added to ordinary cement to give it the desired color..
Subtlety 5th. In order for the wall of glass blocks to end up being even and beautiful, it is not recommended to stack more than three blocks in height in one day. Why? Because, unlike brick, glass adheres poorly to cement. And the cement takes longer to dry. If the builders hurry up and begin to build a wall of glass blocks at the Stakhanov’s pace, there is a danger that the finished wall will turn out to be slightly crooked.
Let’s say you need to lay out a part of the facade from glass blocks to get a rather high wall. Then you need to ensure that the glazing area does not exceed 15 sq.m. Otherwise, the wall will turn out to be very heavy, and the lower layers of glass blocks can crack under the weight of the upper ones. By the way, in order for the glass blocks to adhere better to the cement, their end walls are made not even, but slightly concave.
Subtlety 6th. For those who do not want to mess with cement, we recommend purchasing wooden modules. The module looks like a wooden lattice, consisting of cells measuring 19x19x8 cm. Glass blocks are inserted into these cells and fixed with rubber gaskets. It turns out quickly and beautifully. This design is also good because the blocks inside the module can be rearranged as you like. The only thing that needs to be borne in mind is that the modular grille must be fixed with screws to the floor, walls and ceiling. Otherwise, one day it may collapse under the weight of glass blocks..
But keep in mind: walls made from such modules do not have good sound insulation. And such a wall can be rather purely decorative, serving to delimit space (for example, in a living room or kitchen-dining room). Price – from 50 to 500 $ for 3-50 pieces of glass blocks.
So, what have we learned about glass blocks?
1. Glass blocks are not only dull green domestic, but also very beautiful imported ones of different sizes, shapes and colors, allowing you to create stunning color and light effects.
2. Glass blocks are intended for the construction of curtain walls both inside and outside the building. They can be used not only in public but also in residential areas..
3. Glass blocks are good soundproof and heat-saving material..
4. They transmit light well, therefore, it is not necessary to install windows in a blank wall of glass blocks.
5. Glass blocks are not easy to break, and this is their advantage over ordinary glass. If, nevertheless, this happened, then the broken glass block can be easily replaced without disassembling the entire wall.
6. Glass blocks are not afraid of water, therefore ideal for finishing swimming pools, bathrooms and other areas with high humidity.
7. A wall made of glass blocks, unlike a brick or plasterboard, does not need to be painted, neither plastering nor wallpapering.
8. Glass blocks need to be able to lay correctly. The protective film must be removed from them only after installation. If you are placing glass blocks on cement, use cruciform spacers for a smoother wall. If using gray cement, the joints should be covered with tile grout, but it is best to use colored cement right away. Do not want to mess with cement – buy wooden modular gratings (they are suitable only for internal partitions).
The only manufacturer of EURO and industrial glass blocks in Russia is Starsteklo OJSC.
Addresses where you can purchase the plant’s products:
Moscow: LLC “Exima”, Volzhsky Boulevard, 9/20, 4th floor. (Building “Avtokombinat No. 24”).
Tel .: (095) 177-68-50, 179-79-51
E-mail: [email protected]
St. Petersburg: LLC “Trigran SPb”, Ligovsky prospect, 260/4.
Tel .: (812) 103-16-10 (11), 388-92-04
E-mail: [email protected]