Pros and Cons of Frameless Shower Doors

Pros and Cons of Frameless Shower Doors

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Pros and Cons of Frameless Shower Doors
Frameless bypass doors slide along a track at the bottom of the shower. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
Frameless glass shower doors provide a more modern and clean look for your bathroom. (Photo courtesy of Martha Staab)
Kohler's Levity shower door is a frameless bypass shower door. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
Frameless shower doors come in many types, including bypass, seen here. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
Frameless bypass doors can be used for standalone showers or tub/shower combinations. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
Sometimes, like when a door is used in a tub/shower combination, a door must be only semi-frameless instead of fully frameless. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
Frameless shower doors allow you to see through to the shower wall behind them. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
Damaged glass doors can shatter, so hire a professional installer to lower your risk. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
This shower enclosure with a frameless glass door incorporates some of the bathroom countertop for a shower ledge. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Mark M. of Rancho Palos Verdes, California)
This master bathroom remodel for a customer included installing a frameless shower door, along with replacing the shower tile and a tub surround. (Photo courtesy of Don Prine, Seek Design & Renovation in Tomball, Texas)
Featured on HGTV, Atlanta homeowner Brad Crosby's bathroom remodel includes an enclosed, frameless shower for a spa-like experience. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Weatherby)
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Learn the advantages and disadvantages of installing a frameless shower door in your bathroom.
For new shower installations, one of the first things you'll need to decide is the style or type of shower door. One popular option is the frameless glass shower door.
Learn the pros and cons of choosing this style of shower door.
Pro: Frameless shower doors can be customized
Most frameless models are custom glass shower doors, which means you aren't limited to mass-produced shower doors at a standard size. This adds more flexibility to your shower installation. In fact, customization is one of the important factors in purchasing a frameless shower door.
Video: Frameless Shower Door Tips
"The crucial thing [when choosing a frameless shower door] is the measure and install," says Bill Smith, owner of  Dr. Shower Door & Mirror in Indianapolis . "Typically, in the [frameless] doors we do, the glass is not square. When you go to measure, if you show up with square glass, it won't fit. We order glass to one-sixteenth of an inch of the measurement."
Keep in mind, though, that since it is custom-made, it could be costly to change your mind halfway through the  bathroom remodel .
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Con: Frameless shower doors cost more
Frameless shower doors often require the use of thicker glass in order to stay in place without the sturdiness of a frame. Because they can weigh 80 to 100 pounds, according to Smith, frameless shower doors also require sturdier hardware, such as solid brass, to hold them in place.
How much does frameless shower doors cost?
While framed shower doors cost $80 to $300, quality frameless shower doors start around $700 to $1,200, and the price can go up from there.
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Pro: Frameless glass shower doors look better
Framed shower doors tend to look bulky because the edges are covered in rubber, metal or some other form of a seal.
Frameless shower doors don't have those eyesore additions, giving the shower a clean, fresh look.
"It's a beautiful solution," says Chris Dearborn, marketing specialist with Oasis Shower Door in Avon , Connecticut. "It's minimal. It's pure glass. It's almost like a fish tank, instead of having any kind of heavy frame or gasketing that you see with semi-frameless or fully framed."
If your room remode l includes a beautiful, intricate shower tile design, the frameless glass shower door can also help to showcase it.
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Before tiling a shower, it's critical to install the shower pan correctly to avoid mold and other serious moisture issues.
The only hardware frameless shower doors use is that which attaches it to the shower. (Photo by Brandon Smith)
Con: Frameless shower doors may sacrifice function
Where frameless shower doors excel in aesthetics, they can sometimes lack in performance. 
Framed shower doors typically include rubber or seals around the edges to bind the door with the shower wall and floor, preventing leaks. Frameless doors, however, don't have these protective seals around them.
This means that unless the door is cut to fit perfectly, there could be gaps between the door and other areas of the shower, which may allow water to splash onto your bathroom floor. Experts say shower design is important when considering a frameless shower door.
"Most people who have a problem with a shower leaking is with the shower design," Dearborn says. "They have shower heads aimed at the door instead of putting them at the opposite wall to stay away from the door."
Dearborn adds that his company tries to get involved as early as possible in the shower installation process to prevent a homeowner from picking a design that won't work. It's also important to hire a professional to custom-make your door instead of buying one from a hardware store.
"They expect it to be like a fish tank, but it's a door. It opens. It's got to have some gapping," Dearborn says. "But when they try to do the gapping, they try to do only 1/16 or 1/32 of an inch to avoid using gaskets."
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Pro: Frameless shower doors minimize mold risks
Frameless shower doors minimize the number of places water can collect and mold can grow in your shower.
With framed shower doors, you run the risk of water build-up underneath the door's seals, allowing mold and mildew to form. Frameless shower doors don't have these risky areas. They also are easier to keep clean.
"It's the easiest door and the easiest enclosure to clean," Dearborn says. "You only need a squeegee. You don't scrub the glass. You do a simple wipe and squeegee. Once it's wiped, it's crystal clear again."
Frameless shower doors have an aesthetic appeal. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
Con: Frameless glass shower doors can shatter
It happens rarely, but glass shower doors can explode.
Most frameless shower doors are made from tempered glass, which is designed to shatter into small pieces as a safety precaution. Small pieces of glass can cover you in scratches and embed in your skin, but you're less likely to suffer as big a wound as you would if the glass broke into big shards while you were showering.
Smith says he only gets two to three calls a year about spontaneous glass breakage, an extremely low percentage in comparison to the number of doors he installs.
A door typically will combust for two reasons: damage or glass inclusions, he says.
According to Smith, damage can happen in several ways. A door may be improperly installed, which could be putting pressure on the door and cause it to break. It may be mishandled during installation or damaged during transport.
Glass inclusions are defects within the glass that occur during the fabrication process. If particles get into the glass and don't get totally dissolved, they'll put the glass at higher risk for breaking later.
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