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A Room With a View
Whether you're adding a new shower or updating an existing one, you'll be making all sorts of crucial decisions, not the least of which is what type of doors to buy. While your choice of enclosure might seem as transparent as—well, glass—it's actually a bit more complicated. Facts you'll need to know include the exact dimensions of your shower space, how much room you have between the shower and other fixtures, how much time you want to invest in daily cleanup and whether those frameless shower doors you saw on a design blog are really the best fit for your lifestyle and your wallet.
Take a look at this gorgeous steel-framed shower enclosure shared from Houzz. Yes, it's custom-built and undoubtedly expensive. But it's also a reminder that there are loads of shower door options available in a range of prices—including some very attractive framed models. Armed with the right information, the best choice for your bathroom is sure to become crystal clear.
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Let's get the big questions out of the way first: What is a frameless shower enclosure and why does everyone seem to want one?
A "frameless" shower enclosure uses sturdy tempered glass (usually 3/8" to 1/2" thick) that does not require the support of metal around its exterior edges. The result is a clean-lined, modern look that is free of visual obstructions. In fact, one reason frameless shower doors are so popular is that they help showcase beautiful stonework, intricate tile designs, and gleaming hardware.
One thing to keep in mind is that frameless doors generally do include some metal. Frameless units can be virtually metal-free, except for clips on any stationary panels, hinges, and handles. What's more, the term "frameless" can also apply to doors with frames along the top edge and around the sides. This type of installation is sometimes, but not always, referred to as "semi-frameless."
A word on price: A frameless shower generally costs twice as much as a basic, metal-enclosed model.
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Semi-Frameless Shower Doors
If you desire the contemporary look of a frameless enclosure but your layout and budget don't allow it, a semi-frameless model can be a fine alternative. Look for high-quality components such as the permanently bonded hinges, solid handles and patented glass coating built into Kohler's Lattis. Lattis is a semi-frameless pivot door with 3/8" thick tempered glass and a taller-than-standard 76-inch height that helps to impart a sleek, streamlined look. Prices range from about $959 to $2,100.
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Framed Shower Doors
Just because they're more affordable doesn't mean framed shower doors can't be as eye-catching as their frameless counterparts. You'll find many models that are not only chic but sturdy, thanks to heavy-duty aluminum framing that adds strength and support. This classic pivot shower door is part of Basco's Thinline 136 series. While the door itself is frameless, the oil-rubbed bronze finish that surrounds the unit makes a striking statement that works equally well in a traditional or contemporary bathroom (don't forget to add a matching drain cover). Prices range from $650 to $1,500.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Glass Tub Enclosures
Can't part with your tub, but crave a look that's sleeker than a shower curtain? A glass tub enclosure could be your happy medium. The Enigma X Frameless Sliding Tub Door features 3/8" thick glass treated with an exclusive protective coating. On this model, the doors glide effortlessly on stainless steel wheels over a stainless steel track bar. Priced at around $1,000.
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How your shower door opens depends on your style preferences and your bathroom layout. Sliding (also known as bypass) doors are a practical choice for tub enclosures and narrow bathrooms with closely-spaced fixtures. The frameless sliding doors in this photo shows off the beauty of the shower without hogging too much room. Sliding doors can range from $500 up to $1,500 or more.
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Pivoting shower doors—also known as swinging or hinge doors—open like a standard door. They can make a sophisticated statement in a traditional or cottage-style bath such as this master suite.
If you're planning to buy a swing-out door, it's a good idea to enlist a professional to help you measure your space. You'll want to make sure there's enough clearance between the fully-opened door and surrounding bath fixtures before installation.
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Bi-Fold Shower Doors
Folding or bi-fold shower doors are a good option when you're looking for a wider walk-in opening but lack the space for a pivot door. The frameless design of DreamLine's Butterfly door offers a clean, custom glass look and can be installed over a shower stall or a tub.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Partial Tub Enclosure
A partial glass enclosure over a shower stall or tub is a European-style option that is both affordable and modern. DreamLine's Aqua Uno features a curved silhouette and a sophisticated frameless design. Price: $250 to $400.
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Clear Glass Finishes
At their best, clear glass shower doors can be like gleaming works of modern art. However, be prepared for daily squeegee-ing to maintain their pristine look.
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Textured Glass Finishes
Frosted or textured glass adds privacy and a bit of fun to your shower, and they're easier to maintain than their clear-glass cousins.