Tips for Selecting Shower Doors
While a simple shower curtain will keep water off your bathroom floor, shower doors can be a much more elegant solution. The right types of shower doors will improve the look of your bathrooms while offering water-tight seals, privacy and easy shower access. This guide covers what to consider when choosing between various types of glass shower doors so you can find the best shower doors for your bathrooms.
Showers generally fall into three types: bathtub showers, walk-in showers located in a corner and alcove stand-alone stalls. The types of shower doors you can choose largely depend on the shower design.
A fourth type, barrier-free showers, is a subset of alcove showers or corner showers. This type of installation has a doorless design with a contemporary look. It can also provide an accessible entry for wheelchairs.
In addition to the type of shower enclosure you have, you’ll need to consider the bathroom’s layout. A shower door needs enough clearance in the bathroom to open completely. The amount of space you have around the shower will determine which direction the door opens.
The dimensions of your shower’s opening are also important. The standard shower door size is between 22-inches and 36-inches. A shower opening wider than 36-inches will likely need an additional door panel or a type of shower door designed for wide openings.
Tip: It's also important to know the "handedness" of the door. An easy way to do this is to simply open the door. Stand in the doorframe with your back along the hinges. If the hand by the doorknob is your right, it's a right-handed door. If it's by your left, you have a left-handed door."
Sliding shower doors, also known as bypass doors, are one of the best shower doors for small bathrooms or bathtub showers.
- Consist of two and sometimes three panels that slide along each other on tracks.
- Sliding door operation requires no floor space for opening door.
- Ideal for wide shower openings, with a typical opening of 60-inches wide.
- Some models are designed as alcove shower doors.
Pivot shower doors, or hinged doors, swing open from a single side on corner or alcove walk-ins.
- Ideal for openings that are too narrow to accommodate a sliding door.
- Can be combined with inline fixed panels in wide alcove enclosures.
- Some models have hinges to allow door to swing both inward and outward.
Round shower doors are a space-saving option for corner walk-in shower stalls.
- Ideal for corner standalone showers.
- Often reversible for right or left access.
- Open by sliding bypass operation or have hinged opening.
- Curved glass design reduces the shower's footprint in the bathroom.
- Attached to the top and bottom of the frame for stability and smooth operation.
Neo-angle shower doors are designed to fit neo-angle shower enclosures for corner installations.
- Take up less floor space than a rectangular design.
- Some models have reversable doors for left or right entry.
Barrier-free showers have a fixed shower door panel near the shower head.
- Open, no-door design.
- Fixed door panel near showerhead shields bathroom floor from spray.
- Design can make a bathroom feel bigger and more modern.
- Opening is often wider than conventional shower doors, providing easier access for those who need it.
Accurate measuring is essential to ensure a proper fit for your shower door.
Most new shower doors can be adjusted slightly to fit a range of openings and accommodate walls that aren’t perfectly square. Even so, the door you select should very closely match both the width and height of your shower’s opening.
If the enclosure area is new, do not take any measurements until the shower is complete and the walls are finished. Material on the wall, such as backerboard and tile, can reduce the wall-to-wall width by as much as 1-inch on each side.
Follow these steps for accurate measuring:
- Measure the opening width. Determine the distance from wall to wall at the top and bottom of the opening. The measurements should be to the nearest 1/16-inch. If these measurements differ, select a door using the larger width for a bypass door or the smaller width for a pivot door.
- Measure the opening height. Determine the distance from the top of the tub edge or shower base to the top of the wall unit or tile wall where you want the door to be located. Measure vertically at both sides. The measurement should be to the nearest 1/16-inch. Select a door with a height less than or equal to the smallest of these measurements.
- Single panel doors are rarely wider than 36-inches wide. For larger openings, pair a door with a stationary inline panel.
- If you are considering a pivot door, be sure that the door has room to swing open without hitting any obstructions. Extend a tape measure to the width of the door. Hold one end of the tape where the door hinge will be located and pivot the other end to ensure there is clearance for opening.
All types of glass shower doors are either frameless or framed. Here’s what to consider when deciding on frameless vs. framed shower doors:
- Have a newer design style with through-the-glass mounted hardware and different thicknesses of glass.
- Easier to clean than framed doors.
- Create a feeling of spaciousness.
- Frameless pivot doors often can open in or out.
- Have aluminum, stainless steel or composite material framing the glass panel.
- Include a track that collects and traps water, requiring periodic cleaning.
- Framed pivot shower doors only open outward.
- A variety of finishes are available to complement your decor.
The thickness of the glass in your shower door depends on structural and design factors, such as whether the door is framed or frameless.
- Glass thickness isn’t an issue for framed doors because the glass is secured in a metal frame.
- Frameless doors need glass that is at least 3/8-inch thick. For thicker and more luxurious feeling frameless doors, many people choose glass that is 1/2-inch thick.
- Generally, the thicker and heavier the glass is, the more stable and easier to glide the door will be.
Glass shower doors can be clear, frosted, textured or patterned. Whether you want a clear or frosted shower door depends entirely on your style preferences.
- Clear shower doors showcase tile and stonework in the shower and can make the small space of your bathroom feel larger.
- Frosted, textured or patterned glass shower doors offer varying levels of privacy and can add a stylish element to the bathroom.
Taking accurate measurements of your shower and knowing the types of shower doors available will help you choose the right shower door for any bathroom. Plus, you can get expert design consultation for your showers and more from our professional shower door installation services.