Differences between Frameless and Framed Shower Doors

frameless shower doorIf you are considering upgrading your bathroom with a framed or frameless shower door, it is important to understand the differences between them. They are built differently, and each offers several advantages and some disadvantages.

One of the main advantages of a framed shower door is the cost. Framed shower doors are typically less expensive than frameless shower doors.

Framed shower doors use relatively thin glass wrapped in aluminum casing to give extra strength and support. The aluminum frame is attached to another frame, wall, shower header, or ceiling.

Since framed shower doors have aluminum frames to reinforce the glass, it is possible to use a thinner piece of glass than that required with a frameless shower door. Framed shower doors are often available with a variety of decorative glass options. A shower door frame can be painted with a metal or enamel finish.

A framed shower door is usually good at retaining water because of the amount of overlying materials. It can work well as a steam enclosure.

One disadvantage of framed shower doors is that they come in standard heights which may seem too short to many homeowners. The metal in the frame can distract from the beauty of the tile work or bathroom fixtures. A framed metal door can also look outdated.

Many homeowners are instead choosing to remodel their bathrooms with frameless shower doors. Nothing compares to the appearance of a sleek and elegant frameless shower door and attractive tile work. A frameless shower door can give a bathroom an elegant, modern, or minimalist look. It can be accented by a variety of tile designs, hardware, and accessories.

Modern Bathroom

Frameless shower doors can be custom-built to match nearly any need and specifications, meaning that they can fit in virtually any bathroom, regardless of size and design. The variety of design layouts is limited only by the laws of physics.

Frameless glass shower doors are easier to clean than doors with frames because frameless doors have more smooth surface area.

Frameless shower doors are constructed with stronger glass than framed doors, often architectural quality glass. They require more glass fabrication and greater craftsmanship and attention to detail. The costs for labor and materials are higher for frameless shower doors than doors with frames.

One factor that can affect the choice between a framed and frameless door is the location of the showerhead. A framed shower door has a magnetic strip and rubber seals to prevent leaks. If the showerhead is not far enough away from a frameless shower door, it can leak. Splashing is less of an issue with sliding glass doors because the panels overlap.

A framed shower door can be positioned at nearly any angle. A frameless glass door, however, can only be positioned at 90, 135, or 180 degrees to the hinge panel. This can limit design options in some cases.

Are Frameless Shower Doors Safe?

Frameless shower doors are made of tempered glass that is stronger than regular glass and reduces the risk of injury if it breaks.

Frameless shower doors are constructed with tempered glass, or safety glass, that is often 3/8 inch thick. This glass is specially treated to reduce the risk of injury if it should break.

Tempered glass is four to five times stronger than standard, or annealed, glass. When annealed glass breaks, it forms jagged pieces that can cause cuts and injuries. Tempered glass, however, breaks into small, oval-shaped pebbles when it is broken. The shape and size of the pieces reduces the risk of a person being injured if he or she is struck by the glass. Tempered glass breaks in this way because the tempering process puts the outer surface of the glass into compression and the inner surface into tension.

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Tempered glass is treated with a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling to make it stronger than ordinary glass. It can be manufactured by heating annealed glass to around 620 degrees Celsius (1,148 degrees Fahrenheit). The glass is placed on a roller table, taken through a furnace, and then rapidly cooled with forced air drafts, while the inner part of the glass is free to flow for a short period of time.

Tempered glass can also be manufactured through a chemical process. A surface layer of the glass at least 0.1 mm thick can be forced into compression by immersing the glass in a bath of molten potassium nitrate. This leads to an exchange of sodium ions with potassium ions in the surface of the glass and makes it tougher.

Tempered glass must be cut and any holes must be drilled before it undergoes a heating or chemical treatment process. Cutting or making holes in the glass after it is treated could cause it to break.

Due to the balanced stresses in the glass, damage to any part of it can eventually cause the glass to shatter. The glass is most susceptible to damage along the edges, but it can also shatter from an impact in the middle of the glass or if the impact is concentrated. It is therefore important to be careful when opening and closing the shower door and not to hit the glass with any type of hard object.

The use of tempered glass does not affect the styles available for frameless shower doors. Tempered glass does not alter the appearance of clear, tinted, or acid-etched glass patterns.

Tempered glass is used in many other applications. The thermal process used to treat the glass makes it heat-resistant. This makes tempered glass useful in applications where it will be exposed to heat, such as carafes in automatic coffee makers and windows in ovens. Tempered glass is also frequently used in computer screens, skylights, door windows, and the back and side windows in automobiles.

 

How to Clean Your Frameless Shower

If you have decided to install a frameless shower in your bathroom, you want to be sure to keep it clean to maintain the room’s beautiful appearance. Soap scum and mineral deposits can accumulate on glass, but fortunately, that is easy to avoid with a little routine maintenance and the right cleaning products.

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Cleaning your shower with a squeegee after every use will help you avoid buildup of soap and mineral deposits that can cause water spots to form on the glass. Do not use a squeegee with metal framing or any metal contact point that could scratch your glass shower door.

You will also need to clean your glass from time to time to remove any soap scum and water deposits that may have accumulated. You can use one part white vinegar, four parts water, and a little bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Use a soft microfiber cloth to gently wipe the solution on the glass, then rinse and use a squeegee to dry the shower door. You can also use a commercial cleaner specially formulated to be used on shower doors.

Never use an abrasive powder, abrasive pad, steel wool, or any cleaner that contains bleach or ammonia. These products can scratch the glass, corrode the door’s hardware, and compromise the silicone and seals, which can cause your frameless shower to leak.

Cleaning your shower door’s hardware is simple. Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid with warm water, wipe it on with a soft microfiber or terrycloth towel, and rinse well.

It is important to maintain your shower door seals to prevent leaks. Seals are susceptible to friction wear. Clean them with soap and warm water, just as you do with your shower door hardware. Do not use bleach, ammonia, or any other strong chemical. Keep the bottom sweep as clean as possible because that is the area most susceptible to friction wear. You can apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to keep the area soft and extend its life.

How to Install a Frameless Shower Door

A frameless shower with a glass door can be a beautiful addition to any bathroom. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can install your frameless shower door in a couple of days with help from a friend and some simple tools.

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In order to install your shower door, you will need your shop drawings, a pencil, tape measure, level, electric drill, screw driver, spray bottle with water, chisel, hammer, shop vac, rubbing alcohol, and silicone. You might also want to rent a suction cup.

You need to take some precautions when installing your frameless shower door. Be careful handling the glass. Even though tempered glass is strong, it can break. Do not allow it to come in contact with tile, marble, concrete, metal, or any other hard surface. If you must set it down, place it on a soft surface, not bubble wrap or plastic wrap. Allow the door to reach room temperature before you install it. Always wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Unpack the door and set it down on a soft protective surface, such as the wood from the crate. Keep the other packing materials to use as shims to protect the glass.

The next step is to mark where you will hang your frameless shower door. Mark the inner and outer edges of where the glass door and panels will go. Use a level to mark the vertical locations of the door up to the door’s height, and then mark the locations of the panels.

Tape down 3/8-inch shims where the door will rest. You can use pieces of plywood from the crate. It is very important that you wait until the next day to install the shower door. The glass needs to come to room temperature.

The next day, set the door into place and use a pencil to mark the screw hole locations for all of the hinges. Draw screw hole circles around your markings. Draw crosshair lines through the hole markings.

Drill through a piece of plexiglass into a piece of wood to create a template to help you start each hinge hole. Use a ¼-inch drill bit. If you have glass tile or another hard wall covering, use a ¼-inch diamond-tipped core bit. If you have normal tile, use a ¼-inch carbide masonry drill bit. Drill the hinge holes, spraying the drill bit with water to keep it cool. Drill the holes 2 ¼ inches deep or until you hit a wood stud or block. If you are using a core bit, use a screwdriver to pop out the core pieces. Finish drilling the holes with a carbide masonry bit. Clean the holes with a shop vac.

Hammer in the plastic anchors. If they stick out, use a hammer and chisel to cut them flush with the tile. Drive a #10 screw in and out of the holes to make it easier to install the door.

Tape protective material over the hinges so you will not accidentally scratch them when you screw them in. Have someone hold the door straight and steady while you screw the hinges into the tile. Step back and make sure the door is straight and sturdy.

The next step is to install the panels. Lay the U-channel pieces in place. Use a pencil to mark the locations for the holes. Drill the holes as you did for the doors, clean them with a shop vac, and wipe the area with rubbing alcohol.

Hammer in the plastic anchors. If possible, use a hold punch or old drill bit to hammer in the anchors an additional ¼ inch. If the anchors stick out, use a hammer and chisel to cut them flush with the tile.

Clean the areas where the U-channels will sit with rubbing alcohol and allow it to dry. Apply silicone where the horizontal and vertical U-channel pieces will meet. Apply silicone to the undersides of the U-channels before you install them. Cut the tip of the tube at a 22-degree angle to make a small bead. Apply a drop of silicone to each hole, and then screw in the U-channels. It will be easier if you dip the tips of the screws into silicone. After you screw the U-channels in place, put a drop of silicone on the heads of the screws.

Use clear plastic setting blocks to shim the panels until they are level. Shim at the sides of the panels and then slide the panels into place.

Screw the outside handle into the door. Then use the supplied screw set to attach the inner handle.

Step back and make sure the door and panels are level and secure and at the same height and the door seal over laps the panel by 1/16 inch. Adjust the panel shims if necessary.

Put a small bead of silicone along the U-channels where they meet the tile and glass. Seal completely on the inside of the shower.

Wait at least 48 hours to let the silicone dry and make sure the hinge screws are tight before using the shower.

The Myth That All Frameless Glass Shower Enclosures Leak

The most common misconception about frameless showers is that all of the enclosures leak. Although a poorly built shower does have a tendency to leak from the top of the curb or from the door itself, a professionally constructed frameless shower that has the proper amount of slope at the top of the curb will not.

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A curb with the proper amount of slope (at least 5%) will direct the shower water to the drain and not leak water outside the enclosure. Although an improperly sloped curb can greatly contribute to leaking outside a frameless shower, this is not the only factor to it. A frameless shower should have straight tiled walls, a correctly positioned shower head, the correct type of shower head (a rain shower head or head with horizontal flow usually works best), plus a buttress & shower dam that are pitched to the inside of the shower stall. Also, a shower sweep with a drip rail can be added to the bottom of your frameless shower’s door for added protection. Remembering to replace the seals on the hinges, sweeps, and stops over time can also prevent any leakage in the future. Proper design and installation is key to any frameless shower; it insures giving proper functionality to the shower and preventing the water flow from leaving your shower.

Cleaning and Maintenance for Frameless Showers

Cleaning and maintaining your frameless can be done with ease. Keeping up with cleaning and maintaining your frameless shower ensures it will stay functional and looking great. You can clean your frameless shower door with just normal household products. A squeegee is the best way to keep your frameless shower looking like the first day you got it. 

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A squeegee used with a non-ammonia glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth will keep the glass looking sharp. Avoid using ammonia products as they may damage the hardware or your shower. Cleaning your frameless shower frequently prevents mineral deposits and water spots from damaging the glass. A handheld steam cleaner can also be used when cleaning your frameless shower. A handheld steamer is a safe way to clean any dirt, soap scum, mildew, or mold off of your glass components to your shower, but to the faucets and other parts as well. Steam cleaners do not require extra cleaners and some have squeegee attachments for even an even speedier washing of your shower. Using a surface protector like ClearSheild Surface Protection is strongly encouraged to protect your glass enclosure. Using a surface-protecting agent extends the life of your glass and aids in the cleaning of the glass. Changing all the seals over time ensures that the shower will not leak over time. Maintaining and cleaning all the components of your frameless shower ensures your shower ensured to last a long time.

The Advantages of a Frameless Shower

Frameless showers are a great way to open up your bathroom while adding elegance to your space. If your bathroom is small and you are dealing with those plastic shower curtains that get moldy and break constantly it is time to invest in a frameless shower. With all types of solutions available, Classic Mirror and Glass in Connecticut can help you customize the best options for your bathroom. They are easy to keep clean and with our coating option it helps minimize hard water spots and other types of stains.

frameless-shower

Deciding to go frameless is an excellent idea for many reasons. The return on investment alone is worth having one because walking into a bathroom fitted with a custom frameless shower will stop your guests in their tracks and ask questions. Where did you get that done? Who installed it? The list goes on.

The options are endless. From chrome to polished and brass to nickel, Classic Mirror and Glass will help you customize your frameless shower. The hardware really makes a difference when it matches your décor because it really finishes off the look of your bathroom. It becomes more of a centerpiece to the space.

What Can You Expect From a Consultation?

Our consultations are painless and consist of a solid education on what can be done to replace your old shower curtain or sliders with a frameless shower. We are very critical with measurements because each bathroom is unique. We compensate for any errors in the walls or leveling of the tub or enclosure. Since all of our cuts are custom we can keep the tolerance tight and make your new installation stand out. Our frameless glass experts in CT have the experience you would expect to complete your job with confidence.

It takes some time to convert the measurements into custom cuts along with packaging all of the hardware to fit your job. Depending on the complexity of the project such as angles, size and cut-outs we can fit your bathroom with a frameless shower solution from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Since we use the latest in measuring technology, we can really customize many shapes and follow complicated tile work. If you have been putting off the idea of a frameless shower for your bathroom, you should call Classic Mirror & Glass to setup an appointment to discuss your ideas.