Types of Shower Doors: Should You Go With Frames or None?

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If you are having a remodel of your bathroom or currently constructing a new home, you should know that type of shower door to use will require some of your attention. The kind of door that you choose is going to set the overall tone of the entire room, so choose wisely. Will you go frameless or framed, transparent, or opaque? Take a look at the choices available to you before you make a decision.

Different Kinds of Shower Doors

Framed Shower Doors

Let’s start with the most basic type. Framed shower doors are the most affordable option so far, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t be extraordinary. Many manufacturers create attention-grabbing framed doors that can elevate the look of your bathroom. Plus, they are very durable and made to last. This is because of high-quality aluminum, the most common material used for framed shower doors.

You can choose from different designs, colors, and finishes to suit your bathroom’s theme. This means that there’s one for every bathroom, whether you’re sporting modern or classic decor.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are also quite common. Also called bypass doors, these are a practical option if you have tub enclosures. Narrow bathrooms or homes with limited space can take advantage of the space-saving feature of these doors. They don’t hog up a lot of room, and with the right design, they can add to the beauty of your bathroom.

Bi-Fold Shower Doors

This is another option if you have limited floor space. Small bathrooms can’t exactly use pivoting doors (see below), so bi-fold shower doors are a better choice. These also give you the luxury of having a wider walk-in opening. You can get these folding doors framed or frameless, depending on your preference. Frameless ones will create a cleaner and more sophisticated look. These can be installed over a tub enclosure or shower stall.

Pivoting Door

As mentioned earlier, pivoting shower doors will take up space more than other types would. Also called hinge doors or swinging doors, these are your typical doors found in most rooms of the house. They open and close like your regular door. When used for shower applications, they can give an elegant statement if used with cottage-style or traditional bathrooms.

But before you purchase one, be sure to consult with a professional, because you will need to measure your room and calculate the space required to sufficiently open and close the door. It’s important to have enough space between the pivoting door when fully opened and the fixtures surrounding it.

Glass Tub Enclosures

If you want a partition for your tub area, glass tub enclosures are a great way to go. This is true if you just can’t stand using nothing more than a shower curtain. You can get different designs, materials, and styles for this just as you would for shower enclosures. Glass enclosures are particularly elegant and minimalistic, ideally designed for modern and classic baths alike. Most glass tub enclosures use doors that glide easily on wheels that are laid on a stainless steel track.

Partial Tub Enclosure

If you have ever been to a hotel in Europe, you might have seen this style before. This enclosure is placed either over a tub or shower stall. This is more affordable than the full enclosure, and creates a sleek and modern look. There are also many styles and colors to choose from, so you can get one that matches your existing decor.

Frameless Doors

Now for one of the latest trends in the home design world. Frameless shower doors have taken consumers’ interest after being a favorite enclosure in hotels and other establishments. These are now commonly found in high-end homes as well, because of the luxury and elegance that they bring to the room. 

Often, these use durable tempered glass, from 3/8 to 1/2 inch in thickness. These are designed so that they can hold their own without the support of metal (the frame) around its edges. As a finished product, it has a clean and minimalistic look with no visual obstructions. Many homeowners prefer these because they are perfect for showcasing the bathroom’s intricate tile designs, stonework, and other luxurious fixtures.

Take note that frameless doors will likely include some metal. While these are technically free of metal, there are some metal clips on the hinges, handles, and stationary panels. 

Frameless shower doors look really good – and it comes with a price (two times the cost of a metal framed door).

Semi-Frameless Shower Doors

If you love the appeal of frameless doors but don’t have enough budget for it, or if your layout makes it impossible to go fully devoid of frame support, then semi-frameless doors are the way to go. These still provide a sleek, contemporary appearance for less. However, be sure to go for high-quality materials and components (solid handles, well bonded hinges, patented glass coating) to ensure safety and longevity.

There are also a number of styles to choose from, so take your time picking one that fits your decor.

Glass Finishes

Clear Glass Finishes

Clear glass doors can look like clean, shining works of art. These give the feeling of luxury right in the comfort of home. However, be warned: you might need to maintain and clean them regularly to keep their pristine appearance up. Check out our post on the best squeegees for cleaning!

Textured Glass Finishes

We’ve talked about textured glass in a previous post (types of bathroom windows), and it can also be used for shower doors. By choosing frosted or textured glass, you add more privacy to your bathroom and dimension to your overall design. If you choose these, you should know that they are much easier to clean and maintain than clear glass doors!