In light of Pittsburgh Corning’s closing, there have been many changes in the glass block industry. Among the many glass block styles that are no longer made, there are also a number of glass blocks themselves no longer made. There are alternatives available from other manufacturers to keep homeowners and contractors from completely freaking out when a plan/specs calls for the use of Vistabrik, a solid glass block make by PC. On the other hand, for the glass blocks that aren’t available even from other manufacturers it often leaves people asking “What am I supposed to do now?”. Pittsburgh Corning’s Vistabrik solid glass block was a major part of the commercial glass block industry. It’s popularity stemmed from its high fire-rating and its durability all while being completely transparent for light transmission. There have been many instances over the past few months where I’ve had to help people figure out what to do when their project calls for Vistabrik. In this article I’ll go over some fire-rated glass block alternatives and a solid glass brick alternative to use in place of Vistabrik.
If you’re familiar with glass blocks you know what the Decora pattern looks like. The first and most important difference between Vistabrik and Decora glass blocks is this: Vistabriks are solid glass blocks while the Decora and every other pattern are hollow glass blocks. Even if you’re unfamiliar with glass blocks you’ve probably seen the Decora pattern somewhere since it’s the most popular style. Decora Thickset glass blocks (the fire-rated version of glass blocks) have fire-ratings of 60 and a 90 minutes. The 60 minute fire rating meets the requirement of most fire-rating applications, where the 90 minute fire-rating is more for a zero lot-line application. If you’re in need of a closer substitute to the solid glass block, then there is also Vue glass blocks.
These specific “Thickset” glass blocks have thicker faces than normal glass blocks to give them their fire-ratings. Vue Thickset glass blocks also come in 60 and 90 minute fire-rated. The difference between Vue and Decora is simply the pattern. The Decora glass block is slightly wavy and slightly distorted where the Vue glass blocks are completely transparent, like the Vistabrik solid glass blocks. The Thickset glass blocks are viable fire-rated substitutes for solid glass blocks that are no longer made.
If your project calls for Vistabriks but not for a fire-rated application, then there may be a another product for you. A solid glass block that is made by Seves is called a Vetropieno. These are smaller than other glass blocks and shaped most like a real brick. They come in 4 colors: Clear, Blue, Amber and Black and come in two sizes: square (4.5″x 4.5″x 2″) and rectangle (4.5″x 9″x 2″). These Vetropieno glass bricks can be used just about anywhere and are the perfect substitution for a plan that specified Vistabrik for its brick shape.
Often, switching between Vistabrik and these Thickset blocks above is barely a problem and we wish help those who feel their project is dead in the water. Feel free to give us a call if you want some more information or to discuss your project and how thee alternatives can help you. Don’t hesitate to call 973-777-8989 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be more than happy to assist you in any way. Be sure to check out our website at www.easternglassblock.com for some inspiration and ideas.