You may have noticed that shower doors are looking more minimal than ever these days. This is because designers are now embracing the sleek, less-is-more look of frameless shower doors. These stylish new door types leave excessive metal hardware and framing out of the equation, letting showers blend in more seamlessly with the rest of their surroundings.
If you are considering upgrading your bathroom with frameless shower doors you can find a wealth of inspiration, information, and advice below. With our help, you'll be able to easily determine whether or not this type of shower door is right for you.
Pros & Cons
Before you get your heart set on frameless shower doors, it's important to consider both the drawbacks and the benefits they can provide.
- Have a minimalist style suitable for a range of interior styles
- Allow for custom sizing, whereas traditional framed doors are made in standard sizes
- Can be easier to clean since there are no grooves where mold and dirt can develop
- Absence of metal framing means you don't have to worry about replacing corroded pieces
- Considered an upscale design feature that can add value to your home
- Transparency creates the impression of more space in your bathroom
- Generally more expensive than traditional framed shower doors (by 200% or more)
- Don't have insulating material or frames that block water from leaking out
- Because of this, showerheads must be placed where they won't spout water toward the door or any other gaps
- The only way to prevent gaps is to make sure that the glass is cut to the perfect dimensions
- Glass may be at risk of spontaneously shattering if it's exposed to excess heat or pressure
- To reduce safety risks, the glass is tempered so that if it shatters, it shatters in small pieces
Common Brands & Manufacturers
Thanks to their increasing popularity, frameless shower doors are now available from many brands and manufacturers. Below are a few noteworthy names.
Kohler: Kohler is a premium brand with high quality doors that are fitting for the most stylish interiors.
VIGO: VIGO's upscale doors come in many different designs, and are available at many of the largest home supply shops.
DreamLine: DreamLine is a mid-range brand that offers many design and customization options.
The Original Frameless Shower Doors: FSD is an original manufacturer of high quality doors that allows for homeowners to make direct orders.
Installation Methods & Tips
Because the glass is fragile and installation requires a lot of precision, it's usually best to leave installation work to the pros. But if you want to tackle the job yourself, here are a few tips.
Protect Glass at All Times
DIYers should take extra precautions to keep glass from getting scratched or cracked. This means using proper padding and protection whenever the glass needs to come in contact with other materials.
Never place the glass directly on the ground or shower's edge during installation. Instead, first place wood or foam shims on the surfaces you plan to place the glass on.
Pad Your Hardware
Make sure that when you attach hardware such as door handles and hinges, that you first insert the shims or foam pads that are designed to go between the hardware and the glass. This will even out pressure and prevent cracking or scratching. These padding pieces will usually come included with your glass door's hardware.
Pay Attention to Orientation
Keep in mind that frameless shower doors are designed to leave a small gap at the bottom, where the water sweep is attached. Make sure that you account for this gap so that you hang your door at the right height.
As mentioned before, frameless shower doors usually cost more than traditional shower doors. Typical frameless shower doors start at $350 and can go over $500. Premium quality brands can easily command much higher prices. Compare this to traditional framed doors, which start at $100 and don't often exceed $350.
Full frameless shower doors that can enclose an entire shower cabin start around $700 and easily reach into the thousands. Half or partial panels that just cover a small portion of the shower's edge can be found at $200 and up.
You can ask your contractor about having the glass treated to resist water spots. Such treatments are often available as add-ons when the glass doors are ordered from the manufacturer.
Adding on these treatments can increase the price of your shower glass by about 30%. Be sure to check reviews of the particular treatment you are considering, as some homeowners have reported that certain treatments they ordered did not perform as promised. Keep in mind that treatments can lose effectiveness over time, and may need to be renewed periodically.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Frameless shower doors are often promoted as low-maintenance in comparison to traditional installations. This is because the absence of metal frames and caulking eliminates all the nooks and crannies where mold can develop and grime can accumulate.
However, frameless shower doors aren't maintenance-free. You'll need to adopt a few new cleaning habits to keep your doors pristine.
Many frameless shower door manufacturers recommend using a squeegee to wipe down your glass after every shower (I like this foldable one by Simple Human and the classic by Cleret which is part of the Smithsonian's Permanent Design Collection). This takes a few minutes, and will prevent water from drying and leaving stains.
If you've invested in a manufacturer-provided glass treatment, your glass should already be resistant to water stains. There are also water-repelling cleaning products that can be used to treat the glass yourself, such as Rain-X.
Using preventative cleaning measures is particularly important if you live in an area with hard water. Otherwise, the water's minerals will build up on your glass over time, and may become difficult to remove.
If stains form on your frameless shower doors, you may need specific cleaning products and techniques to remove them.
Cleaning solutions like Bar Keeper's Friend and diluted Pine-Sol have proven to be effective at removing mineral stains on shower glass. Try using these products with soft cleaning materials, such as microfiber cloths or old t-shirts. We've also found that dampened dryer sheets and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are especially good at removing water stains and polishing the glass.
In addition to standard clear glass, you can also find frameless shower doors made from glass with different textures or finishes, such as frosted or raindrop glass.
While these variations may remove the aesthetic benefits of transparent glass, they have their own beauty that can be quite complementary to your bathroom's overall style. These glass types are also often better at hiding fingerprints and water stains.