What You Should Know about Modern In-Line Shower Enclosures

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When more than a single glass door panel is needed to enclose your shower area, in-line systems are an excellent option. We’re all familiar with the bypass doors of old – lots of metal, textured privacy glass, and often lots of soap scum! Today’s shower door possibilities are much more diverse than this, which means you can have a luxurious enclosure that keeps its beauty and clarity as time goes on.

1. What exactly is an in-line shower enclosure?

An in-line enclosure is differentiated from other options because it has a glass door next to and “in line” with another piece of glass. This other panel is stationary (except in the case of the dual rolling door system we’ll discuss later.) An in-line tub enclosure is installed on the tub deck, converting an ordinary bath tub into a glass shower/tub enclosure. An in-line system can also be installed on a shower curb (or the shower floor if it’s a curbless unit) to form a glass shower enclosure. In summary, an in-line door system:

  • Has two glass panels in line with each other.

  • Includes a moving door panel.

  • Typically includes a fixed panel as well.

  • Can function as a shower door or tub door.


2. Why buy an in-line enclosure rather than a shower curtain?


Honestly the most compelling reason for choosing an in-line enclosure over a shower curtain is probably appearance. (With not brushing up against a cold, slimy curtain liner being a close second!) Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely find attractive and stylish shower curtains, but it’s hard to compete with the beauty and upscale vibe of glass. Also, modern glass showers offer convenience, special features, and ease of cleaning unparalleled by curtains and older door systems. A perusal of the chart below shows some of the features available with an in-line shower enclosure from ABC Glass & Mirror.

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3. Can I choose a swinging door?


Of course! A swinging shower or tub door beside a fixed panel is one of the most popular in-line enclosure styles. A few points to ponder as you consider this option:

  • Should the door panel be to the right or the left of the fixed glass? 

  • How wide should the door panel be? 

  • Which side should be hinged?

  • Do I want wall mount or pivot hinges?

  • Is there enough space for a swinging door in my bathroom?

For the first three points, consider ease of entry and exit as well the location of other bathroom sanitaryware. (After all, you don’t want the glass door crashing into the commode when you open it!) 

What about wall mount and pivot hinges? Wall mount hinges, as the name suggests, attach to the door panel and the wall beside it. This is a traditional style and probably the one that first comes to mind when you think about door hinges. Since they are mounted to the wall, this hinge type won’t require the addition of a header or transom. These hinges also allow the door itself to seal up when closed.

Pivot hinges, on the other hand, are installed on the surfaces above and below the door panel. The door is affixed to the hinges and opens and closes by pivoting from this point. These offer a more modern look, minimal metal, and simple cleaning. This type of door does not seal, and a header or transom may be needed in order to install the upper hinge.

The final point about having enough clearance around the shower entrance is vital. If it’s a tight squeeze, you might be tempted to work around this issue by having the door swing into the stall instead of outward toward the bathroom. However, building codes mandate that the door be hinged to swing outward, even if it can also swing the other way. If there’s simply not enough space for a swinging door, not to worry, we’re discussing frameless rolling door systems next!


4. How about a rolling door?


In the past, gliding shower or tub doors came at the price of frameless construction since framed or semi-frameless bypass doors were your only option. However, today’s rolling “barn style” shower doors bring together space-efficiency and unframed glass. These doors have neither hinges nor metal tracks. They are suspended from and glide on rollers along a header at the top of the shower. Rolling “barn style” shower doors require no more space than a shower curtain, so clearance is never an issue. ABC Glass & Mirror offers a few different options

  • 60 Roller Series

  • 70 Roller Series

  • 80 Roller Series

  • Dual Roller Series

The first three are our single roller enclosures which have a door next to a non-moving panel, just the like the swinging door in-line enclosures. However, if you want more versatility, the Dual Roller Series boasts double rolling panels that can glide past each other on either side of the header.

5. What if I’m remodeling on a budget?


No doubt about it, frameless shower enclosures – while stylish and beautiful – do typically cost more than framed or semi-frameless options.  Although they’re less glamorous, semi-frameless bypass door systems are a nice and more cost effective in-line shower option. They can be a good choice for budget-conscious decorators, or you could use this enclosure style in a secondary bathroom while splurging on a frameless unit for the main bathroom. Like the other in-line enclosures, bypass doors can be installed on tubs as well as shower stalls. Other key features include:

  • Two moving door panels are present.

  • The entire perimeter of the enclosure is surrounded by aluminum framing.

  • The door panels themselves are frameless.

  • The doors slide in metal tracks.


6. How can I reduce the amount of metal used on my in-line shower enclosure?


If the semi-frameless look isn’t for you, let’s delve into how to minimize metal components and keep glass front and center on your in-line tub or shower enclosure. The best tactics are somewhat dependent on the product you choose as well as the structure of your shower area, but here are some possibilities to consider:

  • The most straightforward way to reduce metal is by choosing a frameless swinging door system or rolling “barn style” enclosure.

  • Sometimes a swinging door system requires an additional surface on which to install the upper pivot hinge. Having a glass transom put in instead of a metal header keeps the enclosure closer to your “all glass” ideal.

  • The Dual Roller “barn style” door system is available with a glass header. Made of tempered laminated glass, this clear header looks amazing and has withstood tremendous tests of strength and safety.

  • From among the various handle options, you could choose a small, unobtrusive knob rather than a more substantial handle.


7. What if I want a black metal framed shower enclosure?


On the other end of the spectrum, but rivaling frameless shower doors in popularity, we have shower doors framed with black metal gridwork. Also referred to as “Crittall style” doors because of the style’s origins in Crittall Windows of Great Britain, these shower doors make a lovely and in-vogue addition to any bathroom. Equally at home in modern, vintage, and eclectic settings, black gridwork shower enclosures celebrate, rather than minimize, the blending of glass and metal components. ABC Glass & Mirror offers two options for achieving this look with an in-line shower enclosure. (Note that these products require longer lead times.)

  • Gridscape Shower Enclosures: A Gridscape in-line enclosure is made of clear glass with black metal framing and horizontal and/or vertical mullions on the outer surface of the glass.

  • Shower Glass with Ceramic Frit: This product has somewhat shorter lead times and consists of clear glass surrounded by black U-channel with black ceramic frit applied to the exterior surface in a mullioned pattern.


8. Can the metal components be customized to match my bathroom?


The Crittall style shower doors discussed above always have clear glass and black metal as this is what defines their style. However, various options are available for rolling “barn style” shower enclosures as well as swinging door and panel products. Possible choices are somewhat determined by which product you choose as well as what hardware is needed for your particular enclosure. Let’s look at some shower hardware FAQs about matching a new ABC Glass & Mirror shower enclosure to your existing bathroom hardware.


What hinge styles are offered?


Hinges can have squared or beveled edges, a subtle difference that can make them more in keeping with your bathroom’s other fixtures and general style.


How about handle options?


A range of handles is offered with ladder pull, C-pull, crescent, and Colonial being some examples. This type of handle can be vertically or horizontally oriented which also changes the overall effect. Smaller knob-style handles are also a possibility.


What if my shower enclosure includes aluminum framing?


If you go the route of a semi-frameless enclosure, you’ll be able to pick from a selection of thicknesses and finishes to match the framing to the rest of the shower hardware as well as the bathroom’s other metal fixtures.


Can I match the shower hardware finish to that of my other fixtures?


Most of our products are available with various hardware finishes. Some are offered in select popular finishes while others can be ordered in up to 24 finishes including brushed nickel, matte black, chrome, gold plated, and more.


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9. What type of glass is available?


Since we use shower enclosures frequently and are in close contact with the glass, safety and durability are key considerations. For this reason, annealed glass is never used on showers. Tempered glass is about 4 times stronger than annealed glass, and it dissolves into less hazardous chunks if it does get broken. Most shower enclosures are built from tempered glass, which is available in these styles.

  • Clear – Simple transparent glass is very popular. It brightens the shower and surrounding room, doesn’t hide the shower tile, and is easier to clean than textured glass.

  • Low Iron – Normal clear glass has a greenish tinge around the edges. Low iron – or ultra-clear – glass has lower iron content which minimizes this discoloration.

  • Acid Etched – Acid etched glass is a favorite choice when a more private shower stall is desired. An acid wash provides the glass with a frosted appearance which can be applied across the entire surface or to form a “Glue Chip” pattern.

  • Patterned – Another way to create a more secluded shower area is by ordering patterned glass, which has a textured design that obscures visibility. Many patterns, from striking to understated, are available.

  • Tinted – If you want privacy along with an easy to clean smooth surface, gray or bronze tinted glass could be the answer.

  • Cast – Cast glass is heavily textured glass that is formed in a mold. Its look is dramatic and eye-catching, but dedication is required to clean its grooved surface.


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Tempered glass is the standard and widely used material for shower doors and enclosures. However, some circumstances call for enhanced safety measures, for example, if a family member has limited mobility or is at risk for a fall. Laminated glass stays intact even if it gets broken, minimizing the danger of being cut by broken glass. Each piece of laminated glass actually consists of at least two sheets of glass and one vinyl interlayer. The glass is bonded to the vinyl interlayer, which is what keeps it in place if fractured. Choosing a shower enclosure made of laminated glass is more expensive, but it’s the right choice for some installations. ABC Glass & Mirror provides laminated glass in these styles:

  • Clear

  • Low Iron

  • White

  • Gray 

  • Bronze


10. What if I need more glass in order to fully enclose the stall?


A tub or shower is often enclosed on three sides and just needs a curtain or glass barrier installed on one side. However, it’s also common for two or three sides to be open. You can still use one of the in-line enclosure options we’ve discussed and simply add one or more 90 degree return panels. These panels meet the in-line door and panel section at right angles and serve to complete the shower enclosure. More infrequently, a shower may not have any existing walls. ABC Glass & Mirror is happy to offer custom solutions for this and other unique shower situations. Our enclosures can be tailored to your needs in regard to:

  • Number of glass panels

  • Size of glass panels

  • Angles at which glass panels meet existing walls and/or other glass

  • Enclosure shape

  • Enclosure dimensions

  • And more


11. So what’s the secret to keeping the glass sparkling without wearing myself out cleaning?


For an in-line shower or tub enclosure that’s easy to keep clean, order glass with a permanent protective coating. After market coatings or spray-on glass protectants can help, but they need to be re-applied at regular intervals, and it’s easy to let this go by the wayside due to our busy lives. However, ABC Glass & Mirror offers glass with a protective coating permanently bonded to the surface of the glass. No reapplication is needed, and the glass resists water spots, soap scum buildup, and corrosion. Unprotected glass can be etched by contaminants in tap water or by the reaction between water and the sodium present in glass. No amount of cleaning will remove this white discoloration because the glass has actually been corroded. Benefits of permanently protected glass include:

  • Glass stays looking nice longer.

  • Glass is easier to clean.

  • Lasting damage from corrosive elements is avoided.

Choosing protected glass does make the in-line shower enclosure more expensive, but it’s money well spent – an investment in the beauty and longevity of your glass shower and freedom from hours of fruitless scrubbing.

Finally, here are some tips for successfully caring for and cleaning glass showers in general.

  • Dry the shower glass after use to remove water droplets.

  • Clean the shower at regular intervals. Optimal frequency depends on absence or presence of glass protection as well as the quality of the tap water.

  • Use only approved glass cleaners, nothing harsh or abrasive.

  • Use only soft cloths or sponges, no abrasive or scratchy materials.


12. How can I order an in-line shower enclosure?


Use the tool below to start designing your in-line shower enclosure.

If you have questions or when you’re ready to move forward, call ABC Glass & Mirror at (703)257-7150. Our office team includes in-house glass experts as well as customer service specialists who can schedule a free in-home shower consultation. The consultation allows you to see product samples and photos and discuss the options with an experienced glass shower professional. It also gives our estimator the opportunity to inspect the shower area, take notes, and record exact measurements. You’ll receive your emailed price quote within 24-48 hours. The next step is placing your order, and once everything is ready, the project is completed with professional installation of the in-line shower or tub enclosure. ABC Glass & Mirror is a family company and a trusted, veteran-owned supplier of custom glass and mirror. We invite you to contact us and give us the chance to earn your business.