How To Replace Shower Doors with a Shower Curtain

Apartment Therapy Tutorials

I've long wanted to replace our bulky old shower doors with a curtain in our home's one-and-only family bathroom. This shower sees a lot of action, from our daily showers to my son's baths. A curtain eliminates that bottom rail, making it much easier to give baths. And left open when not in use, the room now expands larger than before. I was daunted by the idea of dealing with holes in the wall (and possibly the tub!), but I'm so glad I took the plunge:

What You Need

Materials
Caulk remover (I used Motsenbockers Lift Off gel)
Curtain rod
Shower curtain (a liner at minimum, plus outer decorative curtain if you like)
Shower curtain hooks
Silicone caulk

Tools
Utility knife
Screw driver
Plastic scraper or an old credit card
Caulk gun

Instructions

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1. Remove the shower doors from the track.
Mine lifted up and out from a top track. The doors can be heavy, so get help on this part if you need it.

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2. Remove all screws from the shower door frame.
My frame had three screws on each side and zero in the bottom track (jackpot!). There actually was one small screw in the bottom track that was the reason I put off removing the doors for so long (in fear of leaving a hole in the bathtub), but it turned out to just be a set screw for the guide on the track. So, if that's holding you back, do a little investigative work to determine whether the screw actually penetrates the tub body.

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3. Carefully cut any caulked joints between the frame and the walls/ tub.
Be sure to hold the knife parallel to the wall and tub, not perpendicular. You don't want to leave cuts in the wall and tub surfaces, you just want to separate the frame from the wall.

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4. Pop off the top track.
Mine was not attached to the rest of the frame at all, it was only sitting in place on top of the side frames. A simple jolt with the palm of my hand loosened it and it lifted out easily.

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5. Remove the side frames.
Have your utility knife handy in case you need to cut a little more caulk as you pull the frames from the walls. There will be caulk left behind on the tile - don't worry.

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6. Remove the bottom rail from the tub.
Prepare yourself - this is going to yucky! But this moment is also liberating; seeing your tub free of cumbersome metal frames. Think of it as having braces removed!

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7. Scrape any caulk you can from the tub and the wall tiles.
This is where an old credit card can come in handy - I found it most effective in scraping up the discolored caulking left behind once the door frames were removed. You likely won't get all of the caulk removed in this step, but that's okay! Just get as much as you can without damaging any surfaces.

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8. Use caulk remover according to packaging directions on any stubborn spots.
I applied a gel to the strips stuck on the tub, let it sit a few minutes, then scraped again with the plastic card. (As a side note, I skipped this step on the wall tiles, as my tiles are unfortunately painted. So, the caulk peeled right off of my walls, along with strips of paint, revealing pink tiles beneath the paint. Because of this, I left strips of caulk on the walls in some places, as I plan to replace the tile down the road. In the meantime, I will likely peel off the rest of caulk and touch up the tile paint, but this wasn't done as a part of this project.) Also, our tub surface beneath the old track is pretty rough, but any discoloration came off with this step. There are still pocks in the surface, but I far prefer them to the constantly-dirty old shower door frame!

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9. Fill the screw holes in the walls.
This can be done in a few ways: with special plugs inserted into the holes, or with silicone caulk matching your tile. I chose the latter, and filled the holes with white silicone caulk. This is where the old credit card comes in handy again. Fill the holes with silicone caulk then remove excess with that nifty card! Allow the caulk to set for 8 hours before exposing to moisture. If the holes have plastic anchors in them (mine did), just pull them out with a pair of needle nosed pliers before filling them.

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10. Hang that glorious new rod and curtain!
I love Bed Bath and Beyond's cheap polyester fabric shower curtain liners, so that's what I've used here. I've ordered a white cotton seersucker outer curtain from Country Curtains and will share an "after" shot when it arrives and is installed! (Helpful hint: Attach curtain hangers to the curtains before stringing them onto the rod. This way, you aren't tottering up on the edge of the tub wrestling twelve grommets onto clips.)

Now, I just need to recaulk the tub (and start dreaming about new, unpainted tile)!

(Images: Regina Yunghans)

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