9 Critical Factors You Must Know to Not Buy A Bad Glass Shower Door
Glass shower doors are one purchase in your bathroom remodel which often aren’t the simple ‘open and closed’ case you thought they’d be (OK – that bad pun was intended).
The factors in choosing a shower door are more involved than you thought. Here’s some questions you may be asking:
- Is it best to choose a door which pivots into the room, or one which slides side to side or one with an open design?
- How can I design a shower in a shallow space to stop banging my elbows on the door all the time?
- Which type of shower glass system offers the biggest opening for the ‘big boys and girls’ in my house?
The list of questions can go on and on.
You need a simple way to figure out the best shower door for you, so you don’t get stuck with years of shower door frustration madness. And who wants to live with a glass shower door which makes you want to pull your (already thinning) hair out.
And stopping these frustrations is exactly what this article is about.
You need to wrap your arms around these 9 critical factors so you WILL NOT make a bad decision buying your next glass shower door. So, without further delay, let’s dig into these 9 factors.
Critical factor #1 to buy the best shower door– Make sure the new glass shower door will get rid of the frustration of cleaning water off the bathroom floor
If you’ve told your spouse and kids once, you’ve told them a thousand times (OK – now you REALLY DO sound like your Mother!), put down a towel before opening the shower door and getting out of the shower.
But do they do it? That’s a big N-O!
Between your pivoting shower door (which opens onto the bathroom floor– with all its water in tow) and your family not following your ‘rules’ (imagine that) and laying the towel out, water on your bathroom floor is a constant pain.
You can minimize this problem with the right shower door. Instead of a pivoting door use a bypass or sliding shower door. It’ll keep water inside the shower pan.
Now all you’ll have to figure out is ‘training’ your family to put the towel down before they get out (and I KNOW that’ll still be a job)!
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Critical factor #2 to buy the best shower door– Pay attention to how tall your ‘peeps’ are
Your husband’s 6’2”. Your son’s not even done growing and he’s already 6’5” (and eating you out of house and home – but that’s another story).
When buying a glass shower door most people focus on price, first and foremost. And while price is critical (and shorter shower doors will save you money), they can be a problem when it comes to ‘big and tall’ members of your home.
And when you have a 6’2” husband (who is 74” tall) and a 6’5” (and growing) son (who is 77” tall) suddenly a cheap 72” high glass shower door, or mid-priced 75” shower door may not be the ‘bargain’ you thought it was going to be.
After all who wants water bouncing off their heads, over the shower doors and onto your bathroom floor?
If your family has a few Lebron-James-esque members, pay serious attention to the height of glass shower doors. Before you make a ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish’ (as my Dad would say) decision, make sure the shower doors you buy are taller than the people using them.
Critical factor #3 to buy the best shower door– Is the shower door opening big enough?
A tight shower door opening can be a disaster, especially if you have a family member who becomes either permanently (or temporarily) mobility challenged. If you (or someone you love) can’t get through the door, the shower is USELESS!
And while we’d all love the most stylish glass shower system, sometimes the most practical one is the one you need.
When choosing between types of shower doors pay attention to the finished opening (that’s the opening left after the tile or shower surround panels are installed). If you need a larger opening, walk in designs and pivoting shower doors will (often) be best. Stay away from bypass (where the doors move from side to side) or sliding doors (where one door moves in front of another). These systems limit the size of the finished opening.
Critical factor #4 to buy the best shower door– Don’t allow banged-up elbows to be the reality of your shallow shower.
You swore you’d rid yourself of the dirty, moldy shower curtains which made your shower oh, so dark when you decided years ago to rip out your old tub and put in a shower in your 30” (not very) deep alcove space. So, you bought a sliding glass shower door for your shallow 3-sided alcove.
And then the problems began.
You were constantly banging your elbows on the glass doors instead of on the ugly and dirty shower curtains you didn’t enjoy before! You traded one problem (ugly, moldy curtains) for another (immovable doors in too small a space).
However, this time around you’re determined to put an end to this madness. But you know blowing out the walls to your bedroom and ‘borrowing’ space for a bigger shower just ain’t happen’. So, what can you do to enjoy the benefits of a glass shower door (lower maintenance and more light transmission), yet stop the craziness of banging your elbows on the glass all the time?
Well – here’s a stylish – yet simple solution (which actually won’t cost a banged-up arm and a leg). Use a curved sliding glass shower door and coordinating base. With this design your glass will fit inside the confines of your 30” side walls – yet the glass in the middle (right where your elbows are) will ‘bow out’ to 36”. You get style. You save your delicate elbows.
Critical factor #5 to buy the best shower door– Can you get hardware and hinges to match your cabinets and shower fixtures AND minimize maintenance?
You want your bathroom to look ‘pulled together,’ not ‘pieced together!’
You don’t want your bathroom to resemble the mish-mosh of furniture which reminds you of your son’s first off-campus (Animal-House-esque) apartment.
You want the details of your bathroom to be stylish and cohesive.
And one detail you want to get right is the finish of the hardware (handles, hinges, and towel bars). If you’re going with a trend-setting matte black and gray color scheme, you’ll want your semi-frameless or frameless glass shower doors to match. Simply put – you need a matte black shower door to pull things together.
And if shower door maintenance is the pain which keeps on ‘giving’ (so to speak) you’ll want to eliminate the ‘ever-spotted’ polished chrome or bright brass finish (and of course the D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G door track at the bottom of your old ‘builders-grade’ shower doors as well).
And here’s the solution for you. Use a frameless shower door with a brushed nickel finish instead. It works with most color schemes and won’t give you that spotted ‘dalmatian’ look you’ve come to whine about with your polished chrome or brass fixtures you’re enduring today. And blowing up the ‘tracks’ which capture all that nastiness won’t go away a day too soon.
Do pay attention to hardware. Your bathroom style and shower function are on the line.
Critical factor #6 to buy the best shower door– Choose your glass BEFORE your contractor builds your shower base
You thought the gently curved tile shower base was architecturally SO distinctive. At least that was UNTIL you went to buy a glass enclosure…and nothing standard would fit!
The shape – and material – your shower base is constructed from can have a huge impact on the cost of your shower doors. And here’s an equation you need to know…before it’s too late:
(Custom shower pan designs) = (Custom glass doors)
When you use that evil ‘c’ (or custom) word for your shower pan, by default you’re also buying a custom glass enclosure. Whenever you’re designing your shower, you need to do a ‘Stephen Covey.’ As Stephen would say “you need to begin with the end in mind.”
Design your shower base with your glass doors in mind.
Don’t subject yourself to a bad surprise at the end of your bathroom remodel. You don’t need to drop off your chair learning the cost of your custom glass enclosure which could have been avoided.
There are stylish glass enclosures and uniquely styled shower pans available in standard designs (as you’ll see from the image below). With the right planning you won’t need to overpay for your shower pan OR your glass doors.
Critical factor #7 to buy the best shower door– Decide if a walk-in shower is right for you
Walk in (or roll in) showers have their benefits. They provide immediate access to the shower. There’s no bump (or curb) to trip over. They save money by using less glass (ditching the door saves you dough). They have a sleek contemporary design. And one thing many don’t realize is they can also be used in small bathrooms (when you combine them with a wet room system).
However, open walk-in showers (‘er also known as systems without a full glass enclosure) do have their drawbacks. For one you’ll be on ‘display’ when you’re taking a shower. And maybe you’re not as ‘ripped’ as Matthew McConaughey or as ‘curvaceous’ as J-Lo. They certainly don’t feel as ‘warm’ as a full enclosure with closed doors to keep the heat inside.
People have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with walk in showers. They’re a more controversial design than the ‘traditional’ fully enclosed glass system (especially in the United States where full enclosures are the norm).
But here’s what you need to do. Step back and evaluate the goods, the ‘bads’ and the ugly about walk in showers (and if you still want more input read “The Pros and Cons of a Walk in Shower – The Untold Story.)” Make an informed decision if a walk-in glass design is right for you.
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Critical factor #8 to buy the best shower door– Design in privacy
You drooled over those clear glass doors and ceramic tile shower in the builder’s model home years ago. Looking back now, it’s simple to see how it’s future wasn’t as promising as the model home display you ‘fell in love with.’
Today – those clear glass doors give you Z-E-R-O privacy. Everyone feels free to barge into the bathroom. They start asking you question after question, demanding your attention. It would be SO nice to get a few minutes of privacy.
And besides, the grout joints in your ‘no-longer-new’ tile shower look way different than they did when you bought your home. Those stained grout joints are a sight you can do without. In your newly remodeled bathroom, you’re determined to do better. And here’s 2 ideas to help you in the process.
- Idea 1 – Choose an obscure glass shower door or a glass block shower system. This will at least afford you 10 minutes of (hopefully) uninterrupted privacy.
- Idea 2 – Use life-like laminate shower wall panels vs. a maintenance-mongering ceramic tile shower. They look just like tile – but have NO NASTY GROUT JOINTS to clean!
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Critical factor #9 to buy the best shower door– Make sure your shower door will conserve your ‘ultra-limited’ floor space
OK – so your bathroom is not the biggest. Your builder wisely designed a shower to fit snuggly in the corner.
So far, so good.
However, what he didn’t think about is the shower door pivoting into your limited floor space. And this is something you’ve ‘had it up to here with’ (as your Mom used to say).
And here’s the good news for you. This shower door intrusion doesn’t need to be your never-ending nemesis. Convert your NEO angle pivoting corner glass shower into a curved sliding glass unit. It’s not only more stylish than the ‘hardware-infested’ NEO angle shower – but the doors don’t open into the space, they slide from side to side inside the shower pan.
So, now that you’ve read the 9 critical factors to NOT make a bad shower door choice, how can we help find the best system for your project?
From reading this article I hope you’ve seen it’s as clear as a shower door what a ‘pain in the glass’ choosing a shower door can be (OK – that’s a bad play on words, but I resemble that remark).
If you’re living with poor functioning or bad-looking shower glass system today you know what I’m talking about.
The good news is there’s often a smarter glass shower door, you just need to understand the options and know where to find better alternatives without paying an arm and a leg.
If you’re looking for nationwide wholesale supply of unique glass shower doors me and my team at Innovate Building Solutions would love to help. Call 877-668-5888 or click for Free Shower Design Assistance.
And if you’re looking for installation help with your shower or bathroom remodel in Cleveland, contact our Bath Doctor division at 216-658-1270. And if you’re not in Cleveland Ohio write in the comments below where you live, and we’ll see if we have an installing dealer in our network who can assist you.
Thanks for reading – and putting up with my (sometimes, or maybe more than sometimes) wacky humor.
If you want more advice (with a little less wacky humor because you’ll see the ‘buttoned-up’ business version of me) follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFoti.