Whether you're adding a new shower or updating an existing one, one of the most important considerations is the shower door option you choose. While your choice of enclosure might seem as transparent as—well, glass—it's actually a bit more complicated.
Facts you'll need to know include the exact dimensions of your shower space, how much room you have between the shower and other fixtures, how much time you want to invest in daily shower cleanup, and whether those frameless shower doors you saw on a design blog are really the best fit for your lifestyle and your wallet. Thankfully, there are plenty of framed and frameless options that offer an attractive look.
There are several shower door styles to choose from along with different types of glass finishes. Here, learn about the options to help you decide which kind is best for your space.
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Let's get the big questions out of the way first: What is a frameless shower enclosure, and why does everyone seem to want one?
A "frameless" shower enclosure uses sturdy tempered glass (usually 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch thick) that does not require the support of metal around its exterior edges. The result is a sleek, modern look that is free of visual obstructions. In fact, one reason frameless options are so popular is that they help showcase beautiful stonework, intricate tile designs, and gleaming hardware. Frameless shower doors are the easiest type to clean, as they do not include seals that develop buildup from water over time.
One thing to keep in mind is that frameless doors generally do include some metal. Frameless units can be virtually metal-free, except for clips on any stationary panels, hinges, and handles. What's more, the term "frameless" can also apply to doors with frames along the top edge and around the sides. This type of installation is sometimes, but not always, referred to as "semi-frameless."
A word on price: A frameless shower generally costs about twice as much as a basic, metal-enclosed model. Additionally, frameless shower doors can leak if not installed properly, so it's important to work with a reputable contractor and ensure that your shower pan slopes toward the drain.
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Semi-Frameless Shower Doors
If you desire the contemporary look of a frameless enclosure but your layout and budget aren't suitable for it, a semi-frameless model can be a fine alternative. Look for high-quality components such as permanently bonded hinges, solid handles and patented glass coating.
A semi-frameless pivot door with 3/8 inch thick tempered glass and a taller-than-standard 76-inch height helps to impart a sleek, streamlined look. Prices range from about $959 to $2,100.
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Framed Shower Doors
Just because they're more affordable doesn't mean that framed shower doors can't be as eye-catching as their frameless counterparts. You'll find many models that are both chic and sturdy thanks to heavy-duty aluminum framing, which adds strength and support. Framed shower doors are easier to install than frameless options, and thanks to their sealed construction, they're less likely to leak.
This classic pivot shower door is part of Basco's Thinline 136 series. While the door itself is frameless, the oil-rubbed bronze finish that surrounds the unit makes a striking statement that works equally well in a traditional or contemporary bathroom (don't forget to add a matching drain cover). Prices range from $650 to $1,500.
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Glass Tub Enclosures
If you can't part with your bathtub but crave a look that's sleeker than a shower curtain, a glass tub enclosure could be your happy medium. This shower door option for bathtubs can be installed on an existing tub for a modern, easy-to-clean upgrade.
The Enigma X Frameless Sliding Tub Door features 3/8 inch thick glass treated with an exclusive protective coating. On this model, the doors glide effortlessly on stainless steel wheels over a stainless steel track bar. This option is priced at around $1,000, although budget shower doors for tubs are also available.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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How your shower door opens depends on your style preferences and your bathroom layout. Sliding (also known as bypass) doors are a practical choice for tub enclosures and narrow bathrooms with closely-spaced fixtures.
The frameless sliding doors in this photo show off the beauty of the shower without hogging too much room. Sliding doors can range from $500 up to $1,500 or more.
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A pivot shower door—also known as swinging or hinge doors—opens like a standard door. These doors can make a sophisticated statement in a traditional or cottage-style bath such as this primary suite. Pivoting shower doors are popular for small bathrooms because they don't require as much width as a sliding door. Swing-in options are best in small spaces.
If you're planning to buy a swing-out door, it's a good idea to enlist a professional to help you measure your space. You'll want to make sure there's enough clearance between the fully-opened door and surrounding bath fixtures before installation.
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Bi-Fold Shower Doors
Folding or bi-fold shower doors are a great shower door option for small showers. These doors allow for a wider walk-in opening when the room lacks space for a pivot door. The frameless design of DreamLine's Butterfly door offers a clean, custom glass look and can be installed over a shower stall or a tub.
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Partial Tub Enclosure
A partial glass enclosure over a shower stall or tub is a European-style option that is both affordable and modern. DreamLine's Aqua Uno features a curved silhouette and a sophisticated frameless design. These doors range in price from about $250 to $400.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Clear Glass Finishes
At their best, clear glass shower doors can be like gleaming works of modern art. However, be prepared for daily squeegee-ing to maintain their pristine look.
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Textured Glass Finishes
Frosted or textured glass adds privacy and a bit of fun to your shower, and these doors are easier to maintain than their clear-glass cousins. Textured glass is typically seen on sliding shower doors, although it's also available for many frameless and pivoting options.