Shower Door Design Options
We put this section of the website together to help familiarize you with some terms and design options that your shower door design specialist will go over and explain during the design of your new shower enclosure.
Types of glass shower doors & enclosures
Generally speaking, there are three types of shower enclosures frameless, semi-frameless and framed.
Frameless Shower Doors
Frameless shower doors and enclosures can vary in the degree of frameless-ness and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and opening styles. Generally, if the shower has heavy glass (⅜” or ½” thick) and the finished edge of the glass is visible it is considered frameless. Regardless if a U channel or a header bar is used it is still a frameless shower door.
Semi Frameless Shower Doors
Semi-Frameless shower enclosures are generally thinner glass (3/16” or ¼”) that comes separate from the frame, glazed into a metal channel on sight using gaskets or silicone. There is less metal on the edges of a semi-frameless enclosure than a framed one. Usually, a Semi-Frameless enclosure, the only edge of glass you will see are on the handle side edge of the door and the top. Typically all other edges will have metal channels around them.
Framed Shower Doors
A framed shower door or enclosure is one where all edges of the glass are covered by a frame of metal, channel or extrusion. These can be made of aluminum or in high-end applications solid brass. Framed shower doors typically use a thinner glass and cost less than a frameless shower door.
Shower Door Shapes
Most shower enclosures come in one of three shapes; Neo Angle, Inline and Right Angle. However, there are times when these rules are broken to meet the needs of a client looking for a shower enclosure that is truly out of the box.
An inline shower enclosure is one where there is only one plane of glass that encloses a shower area with 3 walls that are tiled.
A right angle or return shower enclosure has at least two sides, One side that would incorporate a door or entrance as well as a corner and returns back to another wall.
A Neo Angle is a corner area that is enclosed with glass on three sides. A typical Neo Angle scenario is when the side angles meet with the center at a 135 degree angle. It is important to pay attention to the 135 degree angle as extra complications can arise to non-standard angles.
Shower Door Opening Styles
Below are the shower door opening types you are likely to consider for your shower.
A shower system that uses two sliding pieces of glass in lieu of a hinged swing door, these units may or may not require additional stationary glass panels to enclose a shower space. A popular choice for bathtubs, bypasses are low-maintenance and cost-effective.
A Double Slider is simply two doors that both slide. Most common are the traditional sliding enclosures on a tub or shower stall, however, we now have double barn slider option available.
Barn Style Slider
A Barn Style Slider is typically an enclosure where one panel (the door) slides open & closed while the other panel will remain stationary. Some barn sliders will have large rollers above and below the header bar to look closer to its distant cousin which is actually a “Barn Door” made of wood.
View our barn style sliding doors.
French Doors are simply two doors in an opening that hinge from opposite sides and both open in the middle. Handles are placed next to each other one on each door.
A Swing Door is any door that swings open & closed. This could use wall mount hinges, glass to glass hinges, pivot hinges, piano hinges or anything but a sliding mechanism. A swing door can be framed, frameless or semi-frameless.
A Bi-Fold shower door is one which actually folds into the shower area. Bi-Fold enclosures can be framed or frameless and tend to be bit awkward to use as it takes two hands to open & close. The Framed Bi-Fold doors tend to look very “metaly” and cumbersome. Usually, a Bi-Fold is a “last resort” rather than an aesthetic decision which is designed to overcome an issue that a swing door or sliding door cannot satisfy.
Shower Door Glass
You will have many glass options to choose from including finish, thickness, low iron and or DFI Treatment.
Clear glass is tempered glass which has been heat strengthened for safety, tempered glass is approximately four times as strong as standard glass. In the event of breakage tempered glass fractures into small particles which do not form sharp edges. This greatly reduces the chance of personal injury.
Also known as low iron glass Starphire glass is crystal clear, lacking the slight green tint that clear tempered glass can show ever so slightly on the edge. It’s iron that causes this slight hue, so low iron glass is required in situations where clear tempered glass will not suffice.
View More Frameless Shower Enclosures that use Starphire Glass.
Acid Etched Glass
Permanently altered through the application of a hydrofluoric acid solution, this translucent glass has a smooth and even surface. Visually similar to sandblasted glass, but whereas sandblasting provides a relatively rough surface which tends to allow the retention of oil, dirt and dust particles, acid etching provides a much finer surface. This minimizes the amount of fingerprints picked up by the shower glass surface, which has great appeal because acid etched glass continues to look uniform long after sandblasted glass becomes stained, and its fine surface is easier to clean and maintain.
Popular Shower Features
Below are a few popular features you may wish to incorporate into your shower door design.
Buttress Wall (Knee Wall)
Any horizontal surface with stationary glass that rests higher than the curb of the shower (i.e., tub decks, knee walls, etc.)
View More Shower Doors and Enclosure that use a Buttress Wall.
Shower Bench Seat
A Shower Bench Seat is exactly what the term suggests, a bench or seat in a shower. The best way to build a bench seat is to bring it flush to the outside or front side of the shower curb.
View Shower Doors and Enclosure that have a Shower Bench Seat.
The surrounding edges of a soaking tub, frequently adjacent to a corner unit and requiring a buttressed return panel.
A curbless shower or a walk-in shower is exactly as the name states, it does not have a curb. Curbless showers have to be larger than a typical shower to make them large enough to contain the entire splash zone.
A swivel vent, it is used in steam showers to regulate the volume of steam. The operable transom clips can attach to walls, stationary glass, or headers. Alternatively, they can be completely inset in a door or stationary panel.
A Tub Enclosure is an enclosure that sits on a tub. While most Tub Enclosures are sliders, more and more folks are opting to put french doors, barn sliders or other types of swing doors on their tubs.
Common Shower Door Hardware
Below are some of the most common shower exclosure hardware used to design a shower enclosure.
A metal clamp or bracket that attaches glass to walls or glass to glass. Made of solid brass and plated in a finish complementary to the hinges, handle, etc., clips can be used to accomplish a more frameless look by stabilizing stationary glass. Ultimately, the tile job determines whether or not clips can be used in lieu of u-channel, as significant, aggressive outages in the plumb and level conditions can make for sloppy silicone seams.
Typically used where glass meets the tile, marble, or granite, it allows for adjustability of stationary panels and neat glass-to-metal and glass-to-wall silicone joints. Its primary function is to stabilize stationary glass panels.
View More Shower Doors and Enclosure that use U-Channels.
FRAMELESS SHOWER DOOR DESIGN TIP: When are Clips used vs U-Channels and what are the ramifications.
Metal support at the top of a shower, it’s used to support the door and any additional panels. It bears the weight of the door, allowing for hinge location adjacent to a stationary panel. It also stabilizes and reduces deflection on stationary panels. Standard headers range from 1 ¼” to 3” thick.
Glass to Glass Hinges
A solid brass pivot hinge system that allows for hinging a door off of a stationary panel, negating the need for a header. They distribute the weight of the door downward towards the curb instead of having the stationary panel bear the full load of the door weight.
View Shower Doors and Enclosure that use Glass to Glass Hinges.
A Pivot Hinge is a hinge that operates (spins) from a vertical center point (pivot point) on a hinge. A Pivot Hinge can be either mounted to a wall, to a header bar or glass to glass.
Free Custom Shower Door Design Consultation
At Absolute Shower Doors, we are committed to helping our customers navigate the many options available for their new custom shower door design. Our unique process ensures our customers receive the best quality products and have a rewarding customer experience.