What components go into planning my frameless shower design?

This handy checklist can guide you through the major planning and design decisions to create a frameless shower that suits your style and your bathroom space. We make it easy to understand how all the components come together. Additionally, a Dulles Glass and Mirror project manager can review these elements with you, if you'd like more information.

Even if you know what you want your frameless shower to look like, understanding key components of a frameless shower will make the ordering and installation an easy and understandable process.

Glass Thickness Type: Some people begin by choosing glass thickness for their frameless shower. The strongest glass we offer for frameless showers is 1/2-inch architectural glass. The other frameless shower option is 3/8-inch thick glass. Depending on your shower door configuration (will it be attached to a wall or another glass panel) we may recommend reducing the glass thickness, and thus the weight of the shower door.

Glass Thickness

Glass Style: If you have your sights set on a certain style of glass, such as a color tint or pattern, you may only have one choice for glass thickness: 3/8-inch glass. Half-inch-thick glass carries fewer style choices because most homeowners who choose premium glass also want HDglass, which provides the greatest clarity to showcase tile work. Low-iron is available for both glass thicknesses.

Bronze Glass Clear Glass Rain Glass HDGlass

Hinge Type: Hinge type matters most to clients who want the largest all-glass surface area for their frameless shower. If you fall into this category, see how a pivot hinge works with your shower configuration. Pivot hinges attach on the top and bottom corners of your shower door. So most of the shower door is smooth glass. Side-mount hinges notch into along the sides of your shower door and are therefore slightly more noticeable. There are a few considerations when using pivot hinges. See: What's the difference between a pivot hinge and side-mount hinge? Also see: detailed specs for pivot and side-mount hinges.

Pivot Hinge Full Back Hinge

Connecting Hardware Types: The pursuit of an all-glass shower will also determine the type of connecting hardware you'll want to choose. Glass-to-glass metal clips are only about two inches wide and are notched directly into glass panels. When connecting two glass panels, most of the time, two metal clips strategically positioned provide ample structural support. See: When are metal clips used in a frameless shower? Also see detailed specs for metal clips

Wall Mount Clamp

If cost is the more important consideration, then U-channels, metal rails that slip over glass edges, are a better choice. The U-channels fasten together and offer a continuous sealed connection to the heavy glass panels. With attractive color finish choices, U-channels can elegantly accent your glass shower configuration. See: U-channels

U Channels

Configuration: Your glass shower configuration will first be determined by your existing bathroom space -- unless you are doing a major remodel or new construction. The designated shower area in your bathroom will have at least one wall where your showerhead is, though most bathrooms have two or three pre-existing walls. The open side or sides to your shower area make up your shower opening.

Typically, three shower walls indicate a single-door opening or a wider inline-opening (think sliding doors). Two shower walls will provide a corner opening. Identifying this general space leads to a subset of configuration options that you can choose based on your preferences. Here are some examples:

  • Single Doors: You can choose if you want the door to open to the left or right. If you want it to run to the ceiling or not. Single Doors

  • Inline Opening: While sliding doors, which never give a true frameless look, are the most common contractor grade shower style, there are lots of design combinations for building a frameless shower. Consider completing the space with a glass swinging door and a fixed glass or a centered door flanked my two glass panels. Unlike sliding doors, frameless shower panels can be combined with a partial tiled wall or border a built-in shower seat. See Inline shower options here. Inline Doors

  • Corner Opening: Options for enclosing a corner space triple from an inline opening. The most popular shower configurations join two glass panels at a 90-degree angle to close up the space. One of these side panels will be a hinged door or a combination of door with smaller fixed glass panel. This shower is referred to as a 90-degree return panel because from the door there is a stationary fixed panel that returns to the wall. See configurations for traditional corner showers.
    The other popular corner opening is a neo angle shower. Three glass panels (one being a door) encircle the two pre-existing shower walls at 135-degree angles. This structure offers a design element and soft look. If you like this look, you can decide if you want to run the glass to the ceiling or mount the door to the left or right. If this area is very spacious, you can build one side with a door flanked by adjacent glass panels. See neo angle configurations here.

90 Degree Return Panel Neo Angle Shower

Additional thoughts about your shower configuration: The shower configuration along with the weight of your glass panels and hinge types may bring a few other elements into your design. Here's a quick look at them and why these may come into play.

  • Glass transom: A glass panel placed over your shower door may be used to: run your shower up to the ceiling if your door exceeds limits for length or you want a steam shower. Also a glass transom may be incorporated into your design if you select a pivot hinge but don't want your door to run to the ceiling. The pivot hinge will need a top piece to attach to. See more on glass transom

  • Header: A metal header offers extra structural support for frameless glass showers. This is a safety standard required for some configurations and is based on detailed architectural calculations. For example, depending on width, height and glass thickness, hanging a glass door on an adjacent glass panel (instead of a wall or floor-to-ceiling) may require the use of a header. For clients who want a true frameless look, our project manager can provide alternatives.

  • Support Bar: A support bar is a lighter-weight and lighter metal-look alternative to a header. Ask one of our project managers about this solution.

  • Vinyl Seals and Shower Sweeps: Some clients look to remove the snap-on clear vinyl seals and sweeps from their glass shower after we leave. These are used to improve water tightness of your shower. If you know in advance that you'll want to try removing these, our project manager can help you adjust your configuration to support this goal. Some steps would be installing the door furthest away from the shower head and out of direct line of shower spray. Another idea is to select a side-mount shower door hinge over a pivot hinge. Side hinges can be sealed, pivot hinges cannot be.

Glass Transom Header Support Bar Shower Sweep


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