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The Downsides of Glass Block Windows: Is It Time for a Change?

October 26th, 2023 | 8 min. read

The Downsides of Glass Block Windows: Is It Time for a Change?

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Glass block windows have long been a popular choice, especially in bathrooms. Their ability to provide both privacy and natural light is appealing, but what about the potential downsides?

Let's be honest. Glass block windows have become slightly outdated not only because of their style and look but also because of their disadvantages. 

So, if you're experiencing problems with your glass block windows, contemplating their replacement, or wondering if they're still the right choice for your home, you want to better understand their disadvantages to help you know if you're making the right choice letting them go.

As a San Antonio window replacement company since 1989, Southwest Exteriors has had our fair share in replacing glass block windows with high-quality, long-lasting replacement windows. 

We understand their long-term disadvantages because we've seen them. But we want you to understand their drawbacks, too, to know that you're making the best decisions for your home. 

What are the major disadvantages of glass block windows? Let's dive in. 

This article will detail seven major drawbacks of glass block windows, what to consider in the future, and how to choose the best replacement windows.


1. Limited Ventilation

One of the biggest drawbacks of glass block windows is their inability to open and provide ventilation. Traditional windows offer the advantage of controlling airflow, which is particularly essential in bathrooms to eliminate humidity.

Glass block windows can make your bathroom feel stuffy and less comfortable as they lack the option to let in fresh air.

Not only is lack of airflow important in bathrooms, but having a window that cannot open can also be a safety hazard in case of an emergency.

What to Consider: If ventilation is a priority, consider replacing your glass block windows with a vented window option that provides both privacy and airflow. Awning and casement windows are an ideal choice for bathroom ventilation.


2. Maintenance and Cleaning Challenges

Maintaining glass block windows can be a hassle due to their unique structure. Over time, these windows tend to collect dust, grime, and soap scum in the crevices between the blocks, making cleaning a tedious and time-consuming task.

This turns your windows into a routine chore rather than just a view of the outdoors. So, if you're tired of maintaining your glass block windows, it may be time for an upgrade.

What to Consider: While cleaning is a chore, regular maintenance is essential. You can use a mixture of white vinegar and water to clean the blocks. If cleaning becomes too cumbersome, you may opt for an easier-to-maintain window style. Double and single-hung windows are some of the simplest and easiest windows to maintain. 

3. Limited Visibility

While privacy is the primary purpose of glass block windows, it can also become a disadvantage when you want to enjoy an outdoor view or keep an eye on your surroundings.

This limitation is especially relevant for bathrooms on the ground floor, as it can create a sense of confinement and isolation within the space. But, if you want a more open view or have a bathroom on a second or third story, you may be ready for a new view. 

What to Consider: To enjoy a view or maintain visibility, you can consider replacing your glass block window with frosted or textured glass, providing privacy while allowing some visibility. A casement or picture window made with privacy glass may be the best option to fix this issue. 


4. Poor Insulation

Another significant downside of glass block windows is their lack of insulation. They are not as energy-efficient as modern double-pane windows, which means they may allow heat transfer, causing your bathroom to become chilly during the winter and excessively hot during the summer.

Modern windows are made with energy-efficient properties that provide your home with excellent insulation and durability. This will help keep your room more comfortable and improve the efficiency of your home. 

What to Consider: Upgrading to energy-efficient, double-pane glass windows will help maintain a comfortable temperature in your bathroom and reduce your energy bills. Consider investing in double-pane or triple-pane windows with Low-E coatings and gas-filled panes for added insulation and protection from harmful UV rays. 


5. Limited Design Options

Glass block windows have a distinctive appearance, which may not align with the design aesthetic of your home.

Their fixed design limits your choices in terms of style and functionality. This can turn into a pain, especially if you've had glass block windows in your home for a while and are ready for a change. 

While most are not investing in glass block windows today, remember to consider what you want your windows to look like. If you want a highly customized replacement window unique to you, glass block windows are not the right choice. 

What to Consider: If you prefer a more versatile window option that complements your home's design, you can consider replacing glass block windows with a variety of traditional window styles, including casement, sliding, or awning windows.


6. Potential Breakage

Though glass block windows are durable, they are not indestructible. A strong impact, such as that from a fallen tree branch or an accidental collision, can shatter the blocks.

You may be thinking, "Aren't all windows made of glass that is breakable?" While, yes, this is true, there are other durable glass options available. 

Finding secure and durable replacement windows is especially important for first-floor windows where an intrusion is most plausible. 

What to Consider: If you're concerned about safety and security, replace your glass block windows with a window with laminated or tempered glass. This glass is harder to break than other types of window glass.


7. Complex Installation

Installing glass block windows can be more challenging and costly than traditional window installations. Their unique construction requires specialized expertise and materials.

This complexity may lead to higher installation costs and longer installation times, causing potential disruptions to your daily routine during the renovation process.

On the flip side, removing glass block windows can also be more difficult and costly. This is because removing the entire glass block unit can damage the frame of the wall. It is important to find a trustworthy company to remove your windows and repair the area appropriately. 

What to Consider: If you want to remove your glass block windows, you must carefully vet the right company to work with. The last thing you want is to have your windows removed and the frame of your home damaged. 


Replacing Glass Block Windows With High-Quality Replacement Windows

Now that you understand the seven disadvantages of glass block windows, especially in bathrooms, you have a better idea of how new windows will elevate your home and your life. 

Glass block windows offer specific advantages, such as privacy and diffused natural light, but they also come with notable disadvantages.

If you're experiencing any of these issues or are looking for a more suitable window solution for your bathroom, replacing your windows with a window style that addresses these concerns is a practical approach to enhancing your living space.

Outline your wants, goals, and needs for your new windows, and think about what you want them to look like.  How do you want them to function? What customization options do you want? 

Once you've done this, you are one step closer to finding the best replacement windows for your home. 

When contemplating a window replacement, whether it's one or all of your windows, one of the first things you want to know is how much your project will cost. 

This article will outline the cost of a window replacement and what factors affect the overall cost. Then, you can have realistic expectations for the cost of your project and can find the right company to get the job done. 


Ready To Upgrade Your Glass Block Windows? 

If you're considering a window replacement or exploring different window styles, Southwest Exteriors is here to help.

As a trusted window replacement company in San Antonio since 1989, we have the expertise and solutions to help you make the right choice for your home.

Schedule your commitment-free consultation with one of our design consultants to learn more about your replacement window options and get the look you love coming home to!