Frameless Shower Door Design Tips:Your Complete Handbook

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These days, remodeling a bathroom often includes ordering a frameless glass shower enclosure. This is an absolutely gorgeous bathroom fixture that’s a significant investment into your home, so getting the design right is critical. Looking at photos of designer bathrooms is a good way to start the creative juices flowing, but you also want the layout to be functional and reasonably easy to maintain. The ABC Glass & Mirror team has not only designed and installed countless frameless showers, but we see many other shower enclosures when we visit homes for consultations. Our decades of combined experience have revealed a lot about what to do and what not to do in terms of frameless glass shower design. Save yourself from annoying and possibly costly pitfalls with these pro tips.

    1. What is a frameless shower door?
   2. Where can frameless glass showers be installed?
   3. What types of frameless shower enclosures are available?
   4. Which frameless enclosure option is right for my space?
   5. What type of glass looks best on a frameless shower?
   6. How should I style the items inside a clear frameless shower enclosure?
   7. What are my options if I want a more private shower area?
   8. What are common frameless shower door design fails?
   9. What will make frameless shower doors easier to clean?
   10. Can I get help designing my frameless glass shower?
   11. What is the process for having a frameless shower installed?

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1. What is a frameless shower door?

 
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A frameless shower door is set apart from other products because the glass edges are not encased in aluminum framing. To provide appropriate rigidity in the absence of a framework, glaziers use thicker glass on frameless units. As with other glass showers, they are made from tempered glass to maintain a safe environment for shower users. Glass panels are joined to one another and to adjacent walls with hinges, small metal clips, and caulk joints. In some cases a header is installed across the top of the enclosure. This could be necessary or desirable for a few different reasons, such as:

  • A frameless door is being installed with pivot hinges, and an upper surface is needed for the top hinge to attach to.

  • The bathroom structure is such that a header is needed for a stable frameless glass enclosure.

  • You have chosen a rolling door that must hang from and glide along a header.

Headers are typically made of metal, but ABC’s dual rolling door system is available with a header made of laminated tempered glass. As you can see in the video below, this product has undergone extreme tests of strength and durability.

 

2. Where can frameless glass showers be installed?

Frameless glass can enclose a wide range of different bathing areas. Let’s take a look at some specific applications:

  • Shower Stall – One of the most common locations for frameless shower glass is on a shower-only stall that is already enclosed by walls on two or three sides.

  • Tub/Shower Combo – Another popular choice is dressing up a standard tub/shower combo with frameless glass bathtub doors.

  • Shower Room – Some bathrooms have large showers that are almost a separate room. These typically have a doorway that can be outfitted with a frameless glass door.

  • Corner Shower – Many homeowners and designers prefer separate bath and shower areas. Freestanding tubs are often accompanied by frameless 90 degree corner showers or neo-angle corner showers, both of which are constructed by using two of the bathroom’s existing walls and finishing off the stall with glass.

  • “All Glass” Shower – If a bathroom is large enough, a custom frameless shower can be built with the door and all walls made of glass.

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3. What types of frameless shower enclosures are available?

 

We’ve already discussed frameless corner showers above, so let’s look at some of the other possibilities:

  • In-line door and panel – Suitable for showers or bathtubs, a frameless in-line enclosure has a swinging door panel next to a fixed piece of glass. One or two additional fixed glass panels can be added at right angles to this if necessary to wrap up the enclosure.

  • French doors – Side by side swinging doors are another favorite option for enclosing a bathtub or shower.

  • Single door – In the case of shower rooms or compact shower stalls, just a frameless swinging door panel may be most suitable.

  • Rolling “barn style” door – If you need more space efficiency than a swinging door can offer, a rolling frameless door combines stylish design with gliding door operation. ABC Glass & Mirror offers units with a moving panel beside fixed glass and a dual roller with two gliding doors.

  • Shower screen – A shower screen consists of one fixed or hinged glass panel that provides water containment while leaving an open entryway for the shower.

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4. Which frameless enclosure option is right for my space?

 

Understanding a product’s features is one of the best ways to determine if it’s right for your particular space. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each option.

Frameless Glass Corner Shower

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PRO: Makes use of two existing walls.

PRO: Can be right angle or neo-angle depending on available space and your preference. (A right angle enclosure forms a square or rectangle. A neo-angle enclosure has three glass sides – two coming out from the corner at 90 degree angles and another finishing the stall at 135 degree angles to the adjoining glass panels.)

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CON: Sufficient clearance must be present for the door to swing open into the bathroom.

Frameless In-line Door and Panel

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PRO: Works well for enclosing an existing bathtub or shower stall with glass.

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PRO: Adds elegance to a tub/shower combo.

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CON: Sufficient clearance must be present for the door to swing open into the bathroom.

Frameless French Doors

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PRO: Great for elevating  bathtub or shower stall with glass.

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CON: Clearance is needed for swinging door operation.

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PRO: Double swinging doors add a touch of elegance and dress up the space.

Single Frameless Door

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PRO: Elevates a small shower stall.

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CON: The door must be able to swing open without hitting or blocking another bathroom fixture.

Rolling “Barn Style” Frameless Door System

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PRO: Space friendly and requires no clearance.

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CON: More moving parts and components to clean.

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PRO: Can be added to a bathtub or shower.

Frameless Shower Screen

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PRO: Creates an open flow between bathroom and shower.

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PRO: Simple design provides a lower price point.

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CON: Water containment capability must be supplemented by appropriate floor slope, drain location, and shower spray placement.

5. What type of glass looks best on a frameless shower?

 

Clear glass is the favorite choice for frameless glass showers. It promotes an open, flowing vibe within the bathroom while showcasing your shower tile and keeping the stall bright and airy. However, acid-etched, patterned, tinted, and cast glass are also available. We’ll answer some FAQs to help you determine which best suits your needs.

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Are there other advantages to clear glass beyond what’s been discussed above?

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Another plus to clear glass is its smooth, easy to clean surface.

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I don’t like the greenish coloration around the edges of clear glass. Is there a way to minimize this?

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Yes, this effect is minimized on ultra clear glass which has a lower iron content than standard clear glass.

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Clear glass does look nice, but what if I want a more private shower area?

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To create a more secluded glass shower, choose acid-etched, frosted, tinted, or cast glass.

  • Acid-etched: Glass is treated with acid to “frost” its surface either completely or in a design.

  • Patterned: A dimensional pattern on the surface of the glass obscures the view of what’s behind it and adds visual interest.

  • Tinted: Glass with a hint of color is also available. For example, ABC Glass & Mirror offers gray and bronze glass.

  • Cast: Heavily textured glass can be cast in a mold. This product is aesthetically striking but more complicated to clean due to the significant ridges and grooves on its surface.

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Can I have privacy glass with the easy to clean properties of clear glass?

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Tinted glass provides some measure of privacy and has a smooth, easy-to-clean surface like clear glass.

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6.  How should I style the items inside a clear frameless shower enclosure?

Most homeowners go with clear glass, especially in the primary bathroom. It shows off the shower tile you’ve picked, but keep in mind that everything inside the shower will also be on display. No more pulling the curtain shut to hide the disarray of half empty shampoo bottles, damp washcloths, and the like. Here are a few tricks for keeping shower contents aesthetically pleasing.

  • Include glass shelves in your shower design to give yourself plenty of storage options. 

  • Trim down what’s stored in the shower. Get rid of old razors, unraveling poufs, empty bottles, products you rarely use, and so forth.

  • Buy hygiene items with an eye to visual appeal. For example, a natural sea sponge will look much more charming hanging in your shower than a nylon pouf.

  • Buy refillable decorative plastic bottles and dispensers to hold shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Many cute styles are available including glass-like clear and tinted containers as well as farmhouse style white dispensers labeled for shampoo, soap, etc.

  • An attractive caddy is good for housing smaller items items like razors. Choose this and other containers with an eye to matching your bathroom’s overall theme and color scheme.

  • Don’t just plop all these items on your shower shelves and ledges willy-nilly. Arrange them with an eye to balance and visual appeal. Keep in mind that odd numbered groupings are most attractive and be sure that everything is easy to access and put back in its place. 

  • Adding this one item gives your shower shelves a peaceful spa vibe and elevates the entire bathroom – a living plant. Check out this Bob Vila article on which plants can grow in showers and how to choose the right one for your bathroom’s lighting.

If adding shower shelves isn’t an option for you at this point, you can still apply the other tips while arranging shower products on whatever surfaces you have available. My Domaine author Megan Beauchamp offers tips for organizing and styling the contents of small showers with limited storage options. She highlights helpful products like a stylish wood caddy that hangs from the shower head, a handy shower stool, and lots of shelves and holders that can be temporarily attached to your shower walls. Giving yourself adequate storage is the first and most crucial step to styling your shower area.

 
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7. What are my options if I want a more private shower area?

 

There are many reasons a homeowner might prefer a more secluded bathing area. Maybe the bathroom is shared by siblings, maybe you don’t want to worry about keeping the contents tidy, or maybe you just like a private shower stall. One option is to have the entire frameless shower built from vision obscuring glass – acid-etched, patterned, tinted, or cast.  However, there are a few other possibilities to consider:

  • You can mix and match, choosing some clear panels and some privacy glass. Depending on the layout of your bathroom this could give you the best of both worlds – an acceptable degree of privacy paired with the bright and airy atmosphere created by clear glass.

  • ABC Glass & Mirror can create a frosted area on a piece of clear glass to create a similar but more customized effect. 

  • If you love many of the benefits of a clear glass shower, go ahead and order one but have a screen made of privacy glass installed to partially separate the shower area from the rest of the room. Of course this solution is only doable for bathrooms with sufficient floor space.

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8. What are common frameless shower door design fails?

 

Taking a look at common shower design pitfalls can help you avoid annoying and potentially costly problems.

  • Some setups look beautiful but create spaces that are impossible to maintain. For example, a frameless glass shower right beside a vanity yields an unreachable gap where moisture and dust can wreak havoc. Consulting with a glass shower professional about your design idea can help you avoid such mistakes.

  • If you’re using glass tiles or panels on the shower walls, do not place these anywhere that you’ll need to install screws or drill holes as this will crack the glass. Pair these products with standard shower tile as needed.

  • Talk with your contractor about the shower curb slope. To prevent leaks, it’s vital that the shower curb be slightly sloped toward the shower floor NOT flat or sloped toward the bathroom.

  • Be thoughtful about the placement of the shower head and supplemental jets or sprays. Water should never spray directly at a seam or a gap, such as the hinged side of a swinging door.

  • As with the shower curb, the slope of a shower bench is important. To avoid pooling water and slimy buildup, have the surface of your shower bench slope slightly toward the shower floor.

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9. What will make frameless shower doors easier to clean?

In the process of designing and ordering your frameless glass shower, you can make decisions that will make care and maintenance easier.

  • Choose a smooth type of glass. As mentioned earlier, clear, ultra-clear, and tinted glass all have a smooth surface that is easier to wipe clean than the textured surface of acid-etched, patterned, and cast glass.

  • Keep it simple. Just by going with frameless construction you’ve made the enclosure easier to care for by eliminating some of the hardware around which soap scum and mineral buildup can collect. Likewise, shower screens are simpler than units with doors, and swinging doors are somewhat simpler in design than rolling doors. Obviously, the preference for simplicity must be balanced with other considerations like available space, the type of shower, and the desired aesthetic.

  • Order protected glass. ABC Glass & Mirror offers glass with a permanent protective coating on its surface. This makes the glass resistant to dirtiness and corrosion AND easier to wash clean.

 
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10. Can I get help designing my frameless glass shower?

 

Yes, residents of the Northern Virginia area can set up a no-obligation complimentary consultation with a frameless glass shower technician from ABC Glass & Mirror. Having a glass shower professional inspect and measure your shower area and then discuss the best options for your space is one of the best ways to avoid common pitfalls. At this meeting, you will have the opportunity to:

  • View product photos and samples.

  • Receive personalized suggestions and design tips.

  • Ask questions of an industry professional.

  • Have our estimator take the necessary measurements to work up a quote.

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11. What is the process for having a frameless shower installed?

 

After the meeting discussed above, you will receive a quote for the frameless shower enclosure and any custom options you are interested in. At this point, the next step is finalizing your decision and placing your order. We will then gather and prepare the glass and metal components of your shower door and set up a time for installation. A team of installers will put all the glass and metal in place and provide instructions for when the unit will be ready for ue. Benefits to having a custom frameless enclosure installed instead of using a DIY kit include:

  • The glass is fabricated in accord with the precise dimensions of your shower area to accommodate and camouflage any irregularities.

  • You can tailor the frameless shower to your tastes through your choice of glass style, hardware finish, etc.

  • The shower door can be customized to your preferences through special options like curved glass, permanently coated glass, gold plated hardware finish, and more.

  • Working with ABC Glass & Mirror you can benefit from our decades of combined experience in the glass shower industry.

Give us a call to learn more at (703)257-7150!

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