Learning Center

Find the answers to your home improvement questions.

An Introduction to Shower Enclosures

shower enclosure

Custom shower enclosures can give a bathroom a sophisticated, luxurious look without breaking the bank. Other than using a standard shower curtain, a glass door is the next most-popular option for enclosing a shower. Here’s a quick crash course on shower enclosures to help you create your own spa-like retreat.

Selecting Your Shower Door System

shower enclosure dreamline
Nothing opens up a bathroom, especially a small one, like a glass shower enclosure. These types of enclosures are available in a variety of tints and textures. Glass enclosures allow more light to enter, are easy to keep clean, and make your bathroom feel more spacious. The two main types of glass enclosures available are framed or frameless.

Framed systems use a metal framework to secure the thinner glass panels. The metal is typically in a finish to complement the hardware and faucets in the bathroom. Of the two options, it’s cheaper and easier to install on your own.

Frameless systems use smaller connection brackets, silicon glazing, and tend to look sleeker. They’re easier to clean since soap scum and mold cannot accumulate in the framework and rust and corrosion cannot form without metal frames. They’re also visually appealing and fit best in contemporary or minimalist bathrooms. However, the doors and enclosures are around 40 percent more costly than framed versions, simply because they consist of thicker glass panels at least three-eighths of an inch thick. Some glass panels also come in half-inch thick options, which work best for larger enclosures.

Determining Your Glass

shower glass

All glass shower enclosures and doors consist of tempered glass, which is stronger than standard glass, and is more heat- and scratch-resistant. Even if the tempered glass breaks, it shatters into small, rounded pieces rather than large shards. Tempered glass is much safer if it breaks, but does contain a slight greenish tint. You can select a low-iron glass that does not have a tint, but it costs about twice as much. Another aspect to think about is that clear glass can highlight stunning tile pieces while tinted glass can close the room off a bit.

For glass doors, you must also take into account how the door will open. The two main options include a sliding or a swinging door. If you have a smaller bathroom, go with the sliding door because it gives the bathroom more space. If you have a larger bathroom or the shower is in the corner of the bathroom, swinging or pivot doors work well. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends having a hinged door open into the room, not into the shower.

Knowing Your Angles

For new shower enclosures, keep in mind the angles you are working with. Try to keep your angles to the industry standards of 90, 135, or 180 degrees. If you vary from these numbers, it may cost extra. In addition, angles less than 90 degrees are harder to clean and keep sanitary.

Keeping Sprays Away from Doors

Although sprays and shower heads can give you a spa-like feel in the shower, these water sources can make cleaning your glass panels or doors difficult. When determining your shower enclosure, try to point your water sources toward shower walls or away from the glass. This also ensures that the water stays in the shower and does not escape through the panels or doors.

Finishing Touches

shower enclosure finishing touches

Selecting the right finish can change the entire look of your shower. When narrowing down your options for finishes, try to choose styles that suit the frames and hardware. You may opt to complement the faucets and other hardware in your bathroom by choosing the same types of finish. Matte or polished nickel, oiled bronze, and chrome are potential choices.

You also need to take into account the type of hardware style to use. There are typically two choices: square or rounded edges. Square hardware tends to give a more contemporary feel, whereas rounded hardware gives a softer look.

Installing Your Shower Enclosure

Installing a frameless shower enclosure is not an ideal do-it-yourself project, simply because it involves such fine detail. Even the slightest error can produce a leaky enclosure or one covered in caulk to hold back leaks.

However, framed shower enclosures are an easier installation project. For the width, measure precisely to the nearest one-sixteenth of an inch from side to side at the top and bottom of the opening. If the two numbers differ, use the wider measurement for a sliding or bypass door but use the smaller number for a hinged or pivoting door. For the height, measure to the nearest one-sixteenth of an inch on both sides of the opening from the top and bottom of the area you are enclosing. If the measurements are different, use the shorter height for the door.

Tip: Keep this old adage in mind: measure twice and cut once. This ensures that your measurements are precise.

Choosing the Right Accessories

shower head

Shower enclosure accessories can add functionality and appearance to an otherwise dull space. Corner and bench seats offer an area for you to sit and relax while enjoying the cascading water. Seats tend to come in a variety of colors and sizes, which you can select to match the rest of your bathroom.

Storage is vital in the bathroom, and the shower is no exception. Don’t scrimp on a cheap hanging shower tray adorned with all your cleaning necessities, especially when your shower has glass doors allowing others to see your mess. Solid surface corner caddies or even recessed niches snuggled into your shower wall cavity are a great way to keep your bottles off the floor and out of sight.

The Bottom Line

Even if you don’t have room for a large soaking tub, glass shower enclosures can give you a spa-like retreat without costing a fortune. With frameless enclosures as one of the top 10 bathroom remodeling trends, there’s no time like the present to get started. No matter what style you select, whether it’s modern, contemporary, or classic, selecting the accompanying finishes can bring your entire bathroom together.

Questions about showers? Ask us in the comments section below!

(2) Comments

  1. BuildDirect Product Expert Team
    BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

    Hi Denise. Thanks for reaching out to us! Are you able to confirm what kind of information you’re looking for? Once we have it narrowed down, we can definitely provide you with that :). Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.