6 Basic Shower Door Styles and How to Choose One

Glass bath screen door next to wood and white covered vanity in dark blue tiled bathroom

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Shower doors are panels of glass that allow access to the shower enclosure and keep the water from splashing outside. Installing or replacing old shower doors can make a big difference in the look and functionality of your shower. When you begin to shop for your new shower doors, you will quickly see that there are many choices available. Some of these are style decisions, and of course, there will be decisions on what kind of ​glass you want—clear, fogged, or etched. First, though, you should consider more basic questions of just what type of door you're after.

Below, we’ll break down the ins and outs of each type of shower door and the factors you should consider when choosing which is best for your bathroom.

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  • 01 of 06

    Bypass Door

    Vigo-frameless-sliding-tub-door.jpg

    Best for: Tub/shower configurations; wide shower stalls where room space is limited.

    Bypass shower doors are sliding doors, operating in much the same way as a patio door. Typically, they consist of two sliding glass panels that roll on tracks attached to the shower enclosure. The doors may simply slide in the tracks, or there may be mechanical rollers that assist the movement.

    Bypass doors are used both on stand-alone showers, as well as the shower doors mounted on a bathtub in combination tub/shower configurations. Bypass doors make for efficient use of space since they require no space for the doors to swing out into the bathroom.

    Most sliding shower doors have metal tracks that guide the doors, but there are also frameless styles available, though these are considerably more expensive. A standard tracked sliding door is a low-cost, easy to install shower door.

    Pros
    • Good for combination shower/baths

    • Framed styles are easy to install

    • Framed styles are among the least expensive of all shower doors

    Cons
    • Frameless styles are are complicated DIY projects

    • Framelesss styles can leak water

    • Tracked doors have metal tracks that are difficult to clean

  • 02 of 06

    Hinged Door

    Kohler Purist Frameless Pivot Shower Door Bright Silver 702011 L SH
    Kohler Purist Frameless Pivot Shower Door Bright Silver 702011 L SH Kohler

    Best for: Shower stalls where there is plenty of space for door swing.

    A hinged shower door is a glass panel that opens by swinging in one direction on pivoting hinges, like a typical passage door in your home. The door hinge can be attached to a stationary glass panel or the wall or shower surround.

    This type of door is more common on stand-alone shower stalls, and it requires ample clearance in the bathroom for the door to swing outward. Where this is an issue, you may be able to find inward-swinging options.

    Most hinged doors have bottom tracks against which the door rests when in the closed position. These tracks complicate cleaning chores and are not as elegant in appearance as full-pivot doors.

    Pros
    • Can be a used for shower/tub combinations

    • DIY installation is easy with framed styles

    • Framed styles are relatively affordable

    Cons
    • Most types have frames that complicate cleaning

    • Wet doors drip onto the floor when opened

    • Door clearance can be a problem in small bathrooms

  • 03 of 06

    Pivot Door

    Kohler Purist Frameless Pivot Shower Door Bright Silver 702011 L SH
    Kohler Purist Frameless Pivot Shower Door Bright Silver 702011 L SH Copyright Kohler

    Best for: Modern shower designs, including curved glass doors.

    A pivot shower door is a swinging door that has a pivot hinge allowing the door to open 180 degrees in either direction—inward or outward. The pivot hinge can be attached on one side of the door, or it can be center-mounted to create a revolving shower door. Pivot hinges are the design used on most ultra-modern curved glass shower doors.

    These doors are a very good choice for curbless showers that are increasingly popular for homes being adapted to older owners who may need wheelchair accessibility.

    Pros
    • Trackless style is easy to clean

    • Elegant, low-profile appearance, ideal for luxury baths

    • Good for curbless, wheelchair accessible showers

    Cons
    • Can be among the more expensive shower doors

    • Difficult DIY installation

    • Sometimes leak water

  • 04 of 06

    Bath Screen Door

    Dreamline-Butterfly-Bi-Fold-Shower-Door.jpg
    Photo © DreamLine

    Best for: Limited spaces.

    Bath screens (also called bi-fold or tri-fold doors) consist of several glass panels. Normally one glass panel is fixed while two other panels fold in on hinges, as screen panels do. In operating, they work much like the folding bifold doors on some closets, and they are used for the same reason that bifold closet doors are used—they make efficient use of space and do not swing out widely into the room space.

    These are relatively easy shower doors for DIYers to install, and are usually quite affordable.

    Pros
    • Use space efficiently

    • DIY installation relatively simple

    • Moderate in cost

    • Can be a good choice for shower/tub combinations

    Cons
    • May not be as watertight as solid panel doors

    • Most types require tracks that can be difficult to clean

    • More seams make for a less elegant appearance than solid panel doors

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Neo-Angle Door

    Kohler-neo-angle-shower.jpg

    Best for: Corner showers in small bathrooms.

    For a small bathroom, a neo-angle shower door can be a real space saver, since a corner shower door configuration cuts across the 90-degree angle created by a corner shower. For this shower door, there are two smaller side panels running perpendicular to two side walls with the door centered between them. Usually, the door opens out into the room in a neo-angle door, but inward-swinging pivot doors are also possible.

    These are almost always framed-style doors, making them relatively easy for DIYers to install, but complicating cleaning chores.

    Pros
    • Good for corner showers in small bathrooms

    • DIY installation relatively simple for most styles

    Cons
    • Most styles have tracks, complicating cleaning tasks

    • Many types are relatively affordable

  • 06 of 06

    Steam Doors

    Steam Shower
    Courtesy of Trulia

    Best for: Airtight showers with steam features.

    A steam shower door design is intended to be steam tight from floor to ceiling and along all seams, allowing a shower to double as a steam room. To contain steam, the glass panels extend from floor to ceiling of the shower enclosure.

    The steam door design can be made of solid glass panels with a hinged door that has an air-tight seal built in. Usually, a steam shower enclosure has built-in movable panels above the door, called transoms, that can be used as vents.

    Pros
    • Seals in steam

    • Good for luxury bathrooms

    • Usually trackless, so easy to clean

    Cons
    • DIY installation is very difficult

    • Most expensive shower door

    • Unlikely option for small bathrooms

Choosing a Shower Door Style

When choosing from among six common shower door styles, available space and the design of your shower are really the critical factors, as within each style you can find a range of options to meet different budgets.

If space is limited, a traditional sliding bypass door remains a good choice, but a pivot door that swings inward might also be a more stylish option. An accordion-style folding door might work well for larger showers where there is limited space for a swinging door. Corner showers call for a neo-angle door, while an upper-end shower with a steam feature calls for an airtight floor-to-ceiling steam door.

In addition, many shower door styles are available in both framed styles with tracks, and trackless styles that mount with hinges. Doors with tracks are typically less expensive and easier for DIYers to install. Trackless doors are usually more expensive and harder to install for DIYers, but they create an elegant look that is ideal for luxury bathrooms; trackless styles are also easier to clean, without metal tracks that can trap soap residue and mold.