We replaced ten basement windows with these Redi2set pre assembled glass block window panels, pictured below. You save the hardship of laying individual blocks when installing these eight block pre-formed units. Major time saver. In this post, we share our experience of how to install glass block windows in our home basement.
We’ve included pictures we took throughout the project. Then, we peppered tips and insights among them that we learned along the way. Enjoy.
Tools and Supplies You Will Need
You’ll need lots of wooden shims to correctly position and level the windows in the wall window ports. As the shims are wedge shaped, it’s easy to correctly level the new window on them. When placed on the bottom, the window can be raised slightly by driving in the shim a bit further. It can be lowered by pulling the shim out a little. In the pictures below, we show how to use these shims to position each glass block window. They hold the window in place while applying the mortar.
You’ll also need a set of chisels of various blade sizes, from a quarter inch up to two inch widths. Use these to chisel out any stubborn mortar that holds the old windows in place. However, be careful not to chisel too deep, lest you damage the cinder blocks that comprise the surrounding wall.
Glass block windows are heavy and unwieldy. This can make them difficult to lift into position and position properly by yourself. So, we recommend that you have a friend available to help with the lifting.
We used a three-step stepladder when lifting our glass block windows into place. Since basement window ports tend to be several feet off the floor, a stepladder is quite useful.
Mortar and Gravel
They make fine-grain mortar that matched our white basement walls.
A Paint Stirrer
A paint stirrer or any long, thin piece of wood would do. This comes in handy to push the mortar into the spaces around the new window.
Pry Bars of Various Sizes (Also Known as Crowbars)
Use pry bars to pry out the old window frames, before installing the new glass block panels. You may need sizes ranging from foot-long pry bars to three foot lengths. This depends on how strongly your old frames have been cemented in.
A Can of Cement Sealant
Choose a transparent one, or one that won’t change appreciably the color of the mortar you’ve selected. Seal all mortar joints surrounding your new windows after installation, to help keep it strong for decades to come.
How to Install Glass Block Windows: Basement Window One Replacement
A little scared to begin, as we had never replaced a basement window before. So we spent some minutes just staring at this, the first one to remove, for several minutes before starting. This inspection showed that the old soft metal window frames were simply cemented into place. In our case, they were sixty-five years old. So the mortar holding them fell away with very little effort, once we started pulling on the frames.
We first removed the glass and metal window assembly from the frame. See this in the top area of the next picture. Then, we chiseled out the surrounding metal frame. The metal strip pieces shown in the bottom half of the next picture were the frame. However getting them out required that we bend them up quite a bit. No problem though, as these would not be used in the new window installation.
Basement Glass Block Window Two Replacement
Basement Window Three Replacement
The next four windows were located on the north side of our home.
Basement Window Four Replacement
Notice that with this window, we began writing the window number underneath each replacement window target. Helps with matching the roll of pictures up with the windows to which they apply.
Particularly hard removing the old metal frame for this window. Had to apply lots of back grease (whole body effort) to pry it out of the cement with a crowbar. Unfortunately, we marked up some of the cinder block corner on the right side of the new window. Pace an old scrap piece of wood beneath the crowbar neck. This keep it from pressing directly on the cement blocks surrounding the window. So, you are less likely to mar the surrounding blocks if you take this precaution.
How to install glass block windows. Basement glass block window replacement 4, shimmed and positioned.
On this side of the house, there were thick shrubs growing on the outside of the replacement window locations. So, pictures of most of the glass block windows from the house exterior could not be taken. However, below, we did get one or two from outside of window 10.
Had to be careful while excising the rusted frame for window 4. It was hard not to break the PVC water pipe feeding our water heater. See this near the top of the next picture.
Basement Window Five Replacement
Fortunately, most of the work for this window we could do from inside the basement. Otherwise we would have had to work around our central air conditioning compressor. That was located just outside window 5, as shown next.
As mentioned, we slightly damaged the surrounding cinder block on some of the windows. But we were able to fix those nicks. We filled them in with a bit of the white mortar used also for setting the block windows. We applied it with a right-angle trowel. Then once dry, we covered it with a little basement wall white paint. Easy to fix. But we suggest avoiding that problem in the first place. Just be careful how your pry the old windows out. Don’t use too much elbow grease on them.
Basement Window Six Replacement
Window six presented its own set of unique issues. First, we worked around the big blue well pressure tank. See this tank in the lower right corner of the next picture. Plus, outside the house, the trunk of a tall arborvitae bush blocked access. But we didn’t don’t mind getting a little dirty and cold. Working outside plus leaning over a water tank inside wasn’t too bad. Projects like this should go off without incident, although perhaps not so easily.
Basement Window Seven Replacement
The rest of the replacement windows were installed on the south side of the house. These first two went in quite easily. No outside obstacles. In fact, there was just an empty patio out there. No plants or other obstructions in front of windows seven and eight. A wooden porch covered the last two, including the block window with the dryer vent port.
Basement Window Eight Replacement
Basement Window Nine Replacement
Basement Window Ten Replacement
This window includes a dryer vent opening. Make sure when installing this special window that you have enough clearance on the outside. The vent needs that. There should be nothing within a couple feet of the opening. This assures good air flow out of the vent.
Below is the new glass block window with built-in dryer vent.
Patch Up the Walls and Window Sills
As mentioned above, during installation, we broke a few small pieces out of the bricks in the wall a bit. It’s hard not to, while prying out the old windows given how stuck in they were. Cleanup time counts the time to repair these small imperfections. See these as shown in the window 9 pictures above.
Then, after all windows were done, we went around patching any dents around the other windows. Finally, after all mortar dried, we applied a bit of basement white paint. Paint around the inside of the glass block windows, to match your basement walls.
Haul Away Old Windows, Frames, and Other Debris
We loaded up all the waste and debris from this project into the back of a pickup truck. Then, we drove it to the local dump.
Seal the Mortar, Once it Hardens
Several days after cementing the glass block panels in place, apply a cement sealant. Cover all new mortar surfaces around the windows. Be sure to cover well the outside side; the side exposed to the elements.
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- 2018-01-21: Originally published.