Remodeler Bill Carter says that the glass block walls look different in natural light than in artificial light. He chose pendant light fixtures with red, yellow, and blue glass beads to hang above the vanity so that “when you turn [them] on, on the other side of the wall itís like looking through a kaleidoscope,” he says.
WILLIAM E. CARTER CO. Remodeler Bill Carter says that the glass block walls look different in natural light than in artificial light. He chose pendant light fixtures with red, yellow, and blue glass beads to hang above the vanity so that “when you turn [them] on, on the other side of the wall itís like looking through a kaleidoscope,” he says.

Bill Carter, of William E. Carter Co., has a wild imagination and thrives on a challenge. He needed both traits to create this project’s herringbone pattern using glass blocks. With countless glass cuts, this bathroom wall was difficult to execute and took five months to complete, Carter says. However, the result is a sculptural vision.

Though the Sacramento remodeler had never seen a glass-block wall in a pattern like this — the most unusual pattern he had previously seen was basket weave — he decided to use it for the walls of his master bath.

Carter ordered one-thousand 3½-inch-thick blocks. He then had to cut each block that met the ceiling or wall at an angle to fit flat against the edges, as well as the next three courses to fit the vaulted ceiling.

To build the exterior wall, he used a stainless steel channel and set the base course. Every 2 feet, vertically, he added expanded metal lath strips. “I used expanded lath for its pliability to conform with the sawtooth shape,” he says.

When Carter used a wet saw to cut the 3Ω-inchthick glass blocks to fit around the edges, he exposed the hollow core. “I realized they may condensate or sweat inside,” he says. The solution: Wash out the blocks and leave them to thoroughly dry and then seal them. Once dry, Carter and his wife Cheri covered each block with Plexiglas and sealed it with Sikaflex. “I basically re-created a closed block,” Carter says.
WILLIAM E. CARTER CO. When Carter used a wet saw to cut the 3Ω-inchthick glass blocks to fit around the edges, he exposed the hollow core. “I realized they may condensate or sweat inside,” he says. The solution: Wash out the blocks and leave them to thoroughly dry and then seal them. Once dry, Carter and his wife Cheri covered each block with Plexiglas and sealed it with Sikaflex. “I basically re-created a closed block,” Carter says.

For the interior wall that separates the bathroom from the master suite, Carter not only had to fit the pattern from floor to ceiling, he also had to make it fit the radius of the curve he had designed.

“I was doing this in the middle of winter inside a house I was building, with no heat. I learned that if you don’t mix the mortar exactly right, the glass block has no absorption and the wall slumps. I had to take it down twice,” Carter says.

Carter ordered one-thousand 3Ω-inch-thick blocks. He then had to cut each block that met the ceiling or wall at an angle to fit flat against the edges, as well as the next three courses to fit the vaulted ceiling.
WILLIAM E. CARTER CO. Carter ordered one-thousand 3Ω-inch-thick blocks. He then had to cut each block that met the ceiling or wall at an angle to fit flat against the edges, as well as the next three courses to fit the vaulted ceiling.

The glass-block wall is just one of many unique features in Carter’s home. Structurally, the house employs a moment frame in conjunction with a wide-flanged steel beam to enable large, clear spans. “This gives me the ability to have a house with no interior walls,” Carter says. He also built a cantilevered staircase with a glass baluster and a cantilevered hearth with glass tiles.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.