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Best Shower Enclosure for Small Bathroom

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A small bathroom can be just as beautiful and luxurious as a larger space. For a compact bathroom to reach its full potential, it’s crucial to get the shower enclosure right. This is typically the largest fixture, so its impact is significant in terms of style as well as maximizing the available space. We will explore today’s shower enclosure options, rank them for suitability in small bathrooms, and provide shower design tips tailored to tiny spaces.


1. Shower enclosures then and now

2. Simple but elegant: shower screens for tiny rooms

3. In-line door and panel enclosures for tubs and showers

4. Space efficient rolling barn style shower door systems

5. Right angle and neo-angle corner showers

6. Classic bypass doors for tubs and showers

7. “All glass” enclosures and custom designs

8. DIY or professional installation

9. Comparison of pros and cons for each option

10. Creating the illusion of space through shower design

11. Accessibility in small bathrooms and showers

12. Tips for making shower care and cleaning easier

13. How to order a custom glass shower for your small bathroom

1. Shower enclosures then and now

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Finding the best glass shower for a small bathroom is easier now than in the past. According to Toni DeBella of family handyman, glass showers date back to the 1960s. Many of us may remember shower doors popular in our childhood – patterned glass sliding doors surrounded by chrome aluminum framing, for example. However, with each passing decade more innovative styles and add-ons become available. Today’s glass shower trends favor:


  • clear or ultra-clear glass

  • frameless design

  • custom glass fabricated to fit correctly in a particular shower

  • safe and accessible stalls


Other appealing options available today included curved glass, permanently coated glass, and steam enclosures. The best of modern glass shower design combines a high level of functionality with an on-trend appearance.


2. Simple but elegant: shower screens for tiny rooms

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A shower screen is your simplest option for a small bathroom. It consists of a single panel of tempered glass, and this can be stationary or attached to wall mounted or pivot hinges. With a shower screen, you leave the actual entrance to the stall open, but the glass panel – along with the floor slope, drain placement, and shower head location – keep water off the bathroom floor. The height of a shower screen will also vary depending on your preference. It could extend all the way up to the ceiling, to the top of the stall, or to another height of your choosing. Shower screens can be framed or frameless, and glass options include:


  • clear

  • low iron

  • patterned

  • acid-etched

  • tinted


Working with a custom glass shop, you can further customize the shower screen by choosing to have the unattached corner of the panel left square or rounded off (radius corner). Since shower screens require less glass and fewer metal components than the other options, they can be a budget friendly way to replace a shower curtain with glass. A screen can be added to either a tub or a shower-only stall, making it suitable for new construction and remodels alike.


3. In-line door and panel enclosures for tubs and showers

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Similarly, a swinging door and a panel can be installed on a small bathroom’s tub or shower when you’d like a more complete enclosure. If your bathing area has only one or two existing walls, additional glass panels – known as 90 degree returns – can be installed as needed. Options for customizing an in-line door and panel shower enclosure include:


  • Glass type

  • Handle and hinge style

  • Hardware finish

  • Framing thickness (if applicable)

  • Enclosure height

  • Fixed panel width

  • Door width

  • Door location

  • Side of the door that’s hinged


An in-line enclosure is a nice option for dressing up the bathing area in a little bathroom, but there needs to be enough open space around the shower for the door to swing freely.

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4. Space efficient rolling barn style shower door systems

If the need for clearance makes a swinging door impractical for your small bathroom, a rolling barn style door system provides many of the same benefits but with better space efficiency. In the past, this space efficiency was only possible with the semi-frameless or framed bypass doors discussed further on. However, rolling glass shower doors are frameless, with the door panel suspended from and gliding along a metal header.  Working with ABC Glass & Mirror you can also choose a dual door system with an all glass header to minimize metal as much as possible. On our barn style systems, you can choose from:


  • clear, obscure, or tinted glass

  • a selection of hardware finishes

  • a range of glass dimensions

  • single or dual doors


Since this is a relatively new product compared to some of the other options, let’s answer some FAQs.


How do barn style shower doors operate?


The door panel is attached to circular rollers that allow it to glide along the header. There is no metal tracking included.


What bathroom styles will a barn style glass shower coordinate with?


This type of shower enclosure works well with many décor modes, including modern, contemporary, transitional, modern farmhouse, Japandi, contemporary chic, industrial, modern organic, and futuristic. If you’re going for a vintage vibe, a swinging door or a shower screen will probably be more in keeping with the desired look.


How many different rolling barn style shower door systems are offered by ABC Glass & Mirror?


ABC offers four options – 60-Roller, 70-Roller, 80-Roller, and Dual Roller.

5. Right angle and neo-angle corner showers

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A corner shower is sometimes the ideal type of shower enclosure for a small bathroom. It makes use of an existing corner and completes the stall with glass panels. There are two basic types of corner shower, so let’s look at features of each:



  • Three glass panels in total.

  • One swinging door panel flanked by two stationary pieces of glass.

  • Fixed glass panels extend out from the existing wall at right angles.

  • The central door panel meets the adjoining glass at 135 degree angles.

  • Nice for compact spaces because the enclosure does not extend out into the room as far as a right angle corner shower.


Right angle


  • Two sides made of glass.

  • One side consists of or includes a swinging door panel.

  • Glass adjoins glass and existing bathroom walls at right angles.


A corner shower can be a bathroom’s only bathing option, or it can accompany a separate bathtub. In a small bathroom, you probably don’t have room to add a corner shower in addition to an existing tub. However, you could potentially replace an old shower stall with a glass corner shower.

6. Classic bypass doors for tubs and showers

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6. Classic bypass doors for tubs and showers


The search for the best shower enclosure for a small bathroom would be incomplete without considering a classic product: bypass doors. This type of enclosure is generally semi-frameless, although framed construction is also available. On a semi-frameless unit, the perimeter of the enclosure has an aluminum frame, but the door panels themselves are frameless. While less in-vogue than frameless options, bypass doors remain relevant because:


•      Their semi-frameless design makes them somewhat less expensive than frameless alternatives.

•      Bypass doors, like rolling doors, require no more space than a shower curtain.

•      While semi-frameless design is less popular overall than frameless, the look can be made more fashionable through the choice of a stylish hardware finish like matte black.


7. “All glass” enclosures and custom designs

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Sometimes a special enclosure is needed or desirable for a little bathroom. For instance, if the space is very small, you may want an unusually narrow glass swinging door for the tiny shower stall. On the other hand, if it is small, but not SO small you might be able to have a custom “all glass” shower stall built. This type of enclosure has all walls and the door panel made of glass. While usually suited to a large space, there are some smaller bathrooms that could accommodate such a shower. Possibilities for customizing a glass shower include:


  • curved glass

  • customized number of panels, degree of angles, etc.

  • specialty hardware finishes such as gold-plated

  • steam unit with complete glass enclosure and transom


In some small bathrooms, in fact, a very customized unit is the only way to make a glass shower enclosure possible.

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8. DIY or professional installation

Shower enclosures of certain styles are available in DIY kits from local or online retailers, and some of these are suitable for small bathrooms. They are a cheaper option than custom showers, but installation can be tricky, and the glass dimensions will not be customized to your space. Bathrooms usually have small structural irregularities like out of square corners, non-level surfaces, or walls that are out of plumb. Trying to fit perfectly square corners and straight edges into such spaces can result in gaps. This is one reason many homeowners decide to work with a custom glass shop. Working with ABC Glass & Mirror, you can:


  • Have a free in-home consultation to explore options in design, glass style, hardware finish, etc.

  • Be confident of a good fit thanks to our precise measurements and custom-fabricated glass.

  • Relax while your glass shower enclosure is expertly installed by one of our teams.

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9. Comparison of pros and cons for each option

Each of the products we’ve discussed has pros and cons for small bathroom installation.

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As you can see, each option has positive features. The right glass shower for your small bathroom will depend on its size and layout, your design goals, the project budget, and so forth. Questions to consider include:


  • Is there enough clearance around my shower entrance for a swinging door to freely open out into the bathroom?

  • Is it important to me to have a frameless shower?

  • Do I need/want a highly customized glass enclosure?

  • Do I prefer a fully enclosed stall or an open entryway?


Shower screens (and other walk-in showers) provide a fully open entrance, while rolling and bypass doors give you a fully enclosed shower but require no more space than a shower curtain. Corner showers and in-line door and panel enclosures can dress up a small bathroom as long as there’s enough room to conveniently operate the swinging door.

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10. Creating the illusion of space through shower design

The perfect glass shower enclosure for a small bathroom doesn’t just fit well in the available space; it makes the room feel larger and more open, as well. Here are some pro tips for maximizing this effect:


  • Opt for clear or low-iron (ultra-clear glass). This technique visibly melds the shower and the remainder of the bathroom, so that both areas look bigger. It also helps keep the shower bright and well-lit.

  • Extend your tile and/or shower glass all the way up to the ceiling as this makes the ceiling look higher.

  • If you want more privacy within the shower, choose clear glass with a frosted strip. This gives the shower some seclusion while preserving benefits of clear glass.

  • Keep the shower dimensions proportional to the size of the bathroom. Don’t overcrowd the room trying to make the enclosure as large as possible because this can make the space look and feel cramped.

  • If the bathroom is very small, consider making it a wet room with just a small glass screen for water containment. In a wet room, all the floors and walls are waterproofed and there are no significant barriers between the shower area, sink area, and toilet area.

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11. Accessibility in small bathrooms and showers

Shower accessibility is another point to consider when determining the best shower enclosure for your small bathroom. Issues to consider include:


  • Shower entrance dimensions

  • Presence or absence of a shower curb

  • Ease of door operation

  • Handle shape and size

  • Inclusion of a bench in the shower

  • Need for grab bars in or around the shower


The first four points relate directly to the shower enclosure, so we will focus on these. The width of the shower entrance should allow for safe and convenient entry and exit by all who will be using the bathroom. Take this into account when making decisions like shower screen dimensions or door panel width. A shower curb helps with water containment as long as it is properly sloped toward the shower floor However, eliminating the curb makes the stall very accessible and removes a possible trip hazard. In terms of the door, consider whether a swinging or sliding door would be easier to operate and choose an ergonomic handle shape.


12. Tips for making shower care and cleaning easier

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You can make your small bathroom’s shower easier to care for through a glass upgrade and through designing it with cleaning in mind.


  • Choose permanently sealed shower glass that resists corrosion, soap scum, mineral deposits, AND cleans up more easily than standard glass.

  • For ease of cleaning, go with a smooth surface glass – clear or tinted – rather than a textured option such as patterned or frosted.

  • Simple enclosures with minimal hardware or detail are easier to care for. They have fewer nooks and crannies where grime can build up and washing smooth, simple surfaces is quicker and easier than caring for more complex structures.

  • Examples relating to the above point are frameless glass showers in general as well as very simple enclosure options such as shower screens.

  • Avoid creating uncleanable spaces. This happens when a glass shower enclosure is installed too close to a nearby vanity, for example. The space between the two fixtures is susceptible to moisture and dust, but too narrow to be conveniently cleaned. Pay special attention to this in small bathrooms where installations are likely to be close to one another.


13. How to order a custom glass shower for your small bathroom

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A custom design is often preferable to a DIY kit when the glass shower is going into a small bathroom. Little bathrooms may have narrow shower entrances, limited space for the shower area, irregularly shaped shower stalls, and other idiosyncrasies. Getting a one-size-fits-all kit to work can be difficult or impossible in such situations. Here are the steps for exploring custom glass shower options from ABC Glass & Mirror and bringing the project to completion.


  • Call our office – (703)257-7150 – and schedule a free, no-obligation, in-home consultation with a glass shower expert. At this meeting you can discuss the pros and cons of various glass shower configurations for your specific space. Our estimator will also take and record measurements and make notes about the shower area.

  • Receive an emailed price quote to consider on your timeline.

  • Call us with your decision and place your order.

  • Schedule the installation once we have everything ready and then take it easy as our installers put the shower glass and hardware in place.


ABC Glass & Mirror has been serving the Northern Virginia region for 20 years, and many homeowners and business owners count on us for custom glass and mirror needs. We would be honored to have the opportunity to earn your business as well, and hope you’ll give us a call to learn more – (703)257-7150!

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