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Choosing a Shower Door for Your Bathroom Remodel

Glass shower door enclosures have long been a staple in any bathroom design, and today there are more options available than ever.   

The three main types of shower doors are:

  1. Bypass or sliding shower doors
  2. Hinged or swinging shower doors
  3. Fixed or stationary shower panels

Scroll down to see examples of each! 

Bypass Sliding Shower Doors

These types of doors have been around for a long time.  A relatively easy and inexpensive upgrade to your basic shower curtain, sliding glass shower doors bring a higher end look and easy cleaning to your shower area. Older sliding door styles were referred to as ‘framed’ sliding shower doors featuring thin glass that required a metal frame around each glass panel for support.  These thin glass panels were also limited by how tall they could be.  

Today, thanks to innovation in technology, we use heavier glass that doesn’t require a metal frame for support along with better and heavier duty rollers and tracks. The result is a sliding door with a beautiful, simple look that is easy to clean and will perform as designed for years to come.  Pricing for sliding shower doors can range from $400 for ¼” glass in a 48” wide opening, up to $1000 or more for a 60” door with ⅜” glass.  Prices will also vary based on finishes and glass styles.  

Hinged or Swinging Shower Doors

These started the same way as the sliding shower doors — with thin, metal framed glass. They are notoriously known for difficult cleaning. Now we’re seeing some of the coolest innovative designs with hinged shower doors using heavier glass and better quality hinges. Today’s glass options have come a long way. The two main configurations are semi-frameless, which features ¼” glass with metal framing as needed to support the entire unit, or  ⅜” or ½” heavy glass frameless that features little metal.  

Due to the fact that the newer glass doors don’t require  metal bordering the glass, there’s very little margin for error. This means heavy hinged glass shower doors are custom doors requiring templates and installation by a glass professional to allow for out-of-plumb or out-of square walls; which is basically every wall.  This adds lead time, as heavy glass takes from 1-3 weeks after template to get produced, delivered and installed.  Pricing for heavy glass can vary from $500 for a ⅜” 36” single door or door and panel application to a few thousand dollars for larger shower enclosures with return panels and half-walls or bench seats.  Of course, glass style, patterns and options will drive that pricing up or down.  

Fixed or Stationary Panel

The left photo features rain patterned glass with brushed nickel u-channel. No support is required at the top of the panel. The second features clear glass with chrome u-channel with no support at the top.  

Which Shower Door is Best for You?  

Well, just like everything else...it depends.

  • Your space will dictate what you can and can’t do regarding room clearance and access to plumbing controls in the shower.
  • Your budget will dictate what you can and can’t do from a configuration or style standpoint.  
  • Your personal preferences will dictate what you end up doing as well.

We always encourage our customers to look at the bigger picture: If you’re a rehabber flipping a house, go with an inexpensive slider or a simple shower curtain. Chances are you won’t get your money back on the heavier glass option doors in the short-term. If you’re like most of our customers and plan to stay in your home for several years, go with the style that suites your personal preference. We’re here to show you all the options.

Bypass Sliding Shower Doors Examples

Old Framed Slider — Yuck!  (Photo courtesy of StaleyGlass.com)
As you can see, this door has thick metal framing around each glass panel making it extremely difficult to clean between them.  The large frame also detracts from the clean and otherwise open feel a glass door is supposed to provide especially when you have beautiful tile walls installed in the shower behind it.  

Newer Semi-Frameless Slider —That’s more like it!  
Notice how the glass panels are just that...no metal framing each sliding panel. The only metal is the support frame around the entire unit and only hardware or rollers are in the upper support bar so they won’t get wet, nasty and rusted over time.  This door features a chrome frame, towel bar and rain pattern glass.  

Even Newer Heavy Glass Roller Style
A newer development within the sliding glass door category is the more industrial style exposed roller system.  The result is the sleekest sliding shower door available because the only metal you see is the hardware at the top. This door features clear glass with oil-rubbed bronze hardware.  

 

Hinged or Swinging Shower Doors Examples

Semi-Frameless Hinged Shower Door (Photo courtesy of americanshowerandtubdoor.com)
The least expensive option for a hinged shower, semi-frameless shower doors have a frame at the sides, bottom and top of the enclosure to stabilize the glass. The glass door itself has a full length integrated metal hinge on the hinge side but no metal border otherwise. This door has clear glass with brushed nickel finish.  

Frameless Heavy Glass Shower Door
Probably the style that comes to mind when every person dreams of remodeling their shower.  Heavy glass is just that - glass that is heavy enough to support itself without the need to additional metal around it.  Notice how completely open this door makes the shower look.  Why spend all that money to tile a shower and then hide it with ugly metal.  The frameless shower door is still the door by which all other shower doors are judge by.  This door has clear glass and brushed nickel clips with in-line hinges.  

Fixed or Stationary Panel Examples

The left photo features rain patterned glass with brushed nickel u-channel. No support is required at the top of the panel. The second features clear glass with chrome u-channel with no support at the top.