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Choosing the Ideal Shower Door For Your Bathroom
Showers have taken a central role in today’s bathroom design, with some people even choosing to leave the tub out of their bathroom renovation in favor of a larger shower. There is no one-size-fits-all shower, and likewise bathroom shower door come in a variety of styles and sizes to suit any design and budget. Glass shower doors and enclosures are popular choices, as they give an open, clean feeling to the bathroom, allow light to flow through the room, and help the space seem larger.
Shower enclosures can be customized to suit any space, so use your imagination and work with your kitchen and bath design professional to find the right shower door to meet your needs. You can find plenty of inspiration in our bathroom design gallery, but here is an overview of some options:
The framed enclosure tends to be viewed as a somewhat outdated choice, which is more difficult to clean and maintain due to the frame collecting dirt and grime. For some people, the old framed shower enclosure may be one of the reasons why they are seeking to change their bathroom! While it may not top the list of popular fixtures, updated versions of this double sliding shower door style can still suit your new bathroom as a lower cost option.
A frameless enclosure with a hinged door is a more popular choice as it brings a clean, modern edge to any style design. Clear glass also allows you to show off tilework and other decorative features and leaves less space for dirt to get trapped. Choose a glass finish designed to repel soap scum and water spots to make sure your shower glass stays clean. The frameless enclosure could be either a full glass enclosure like the one pictured below left or a combination of tile walls framing a glass door like the one below right.
Sliding glass doors are available in either double or single doors to accommodate any size shower. Sliding doors make a sleek option for your bathroom, and also take up less space than that required for a hinged door. The elegant and practical designs shown below use single sliding shower door for a larger shower enclosure.
Textured or frosted glass allows more privacy for your shower experience and gives the bathroom design a unique look. Frosted glass like the bathroom remodel in Doylestown, PA pictured below does a better job of concealing the shower user, but the textured option provides greater style variations and allows more light to shine through the shower.
A hinged door for a bath/shower enclosure provides a stylish alternative to the traditional shower curtain for your tub/shower combination. Even in a small bathroom, a hinged glass door can be a sleek option to keep moisture in the tub while still opening up the space and allowing light to shine through.
Go all or nothing with either no door or a fully enclosed shower. Where you have allotted space and budget for the ultimate shower experience, consider installing an open shower design with no door. This type of large, walk-in shower is usually partially enclosed with tile wall and glass but leaves the doorway open. It evokes the relaxing feel of a spa, particularly when combined with a rainfall showerhead or a massaging shower panel. On the other end of the spectrum you might consider a customized shower with a fully enclosed door to create your own home steam room, like the one pictured below.
Customize your shower to achieve a unique, stylish shower enclosure. Let your imagination be your guide when selecting a design and materials, like using glass block instead of a standard glass enclosure or creating a unique shower doorway like the arched entry below.
There are many possible options for shower door styles to fit your design. Consider your available space and budget, the style of your bathroom, and other factors like who will be using the bathroom when determining which shower door style is best for you. Your design expert will make sure these requirements are factored into your bathroom design to give you the best shower experience possible.
Over the years, a small but significant number of homeowners have reported a strange, frightening, and potentially dangerous issue: bathroom shower enclosure that seemingly "explode" into small pieces spontaneously, often with no apparent provocation or stress. In many instances, it happens in the middle of the night, awakening the homeowners suddenly as a glass panel first bursts and then crashes to the floor and bathtub or shower pan.
Contractors and glass door manufacturers initially reacted with understandable disbelief and skepticism: Glass does not explode all by itself. Surely, they argued, homeowners were reporting glass doors coming free from their frames or mounting hardware and crashing to the floor. The glass panels were not exploding spontaneously.
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But enough homeowners reported the same experience that gradually this phenomenon was acknowledged. An internet search for "exploding shower doors" produces dozens of results, including reports in major newspapers and trade magazines. Though extremely rare, there were even instances of residents experiencing the glass spontaneously exploding while they were showering. Certain characteristics were common to most of these experiences:
The glass did not simply crack, it shattered explosively. The breakage was never a crack that progressed into pieces of glass tinkling to the floor. One minute the shower door was completely intact; the next minute it was fragmented into minute pieces, and the noise of the shattering was very loud—sometimes described as deafening.
The explosion was spontaneous. This was not a case of shower panels falling out of frames and crashing to the floor, or of door brackets coming loose and causing the entire door to fall. Instead, the glass panels were shattering from the center outward all on their own, often with no one even in the room.
It frequently happened at night, often very late or past midnight. Homeowners were in bed and sometimes were first woken up by an initial crack, followed by the explosion. Most episodes happened between midnight and 3:00 am.
One homeowner's report is typical of what many people describe: "The middle of it blew clean apart leaving glass shards inside the frame. We were awakened by a very loud explosion upstairs. It was pretty scary. My daughter who sleeps upstairs said that she heard two noises. The first was like a big crack noise. Minutes or an hour later the thing exploded."
The Industry Reaction
Some retailers, when confronted by concerned and sometimes angry homeowners, have argued that the report of an "explosion" is exaggerated—that homeowners are probably hearing it this way because the small space and hard surfaces in a bathroom make any falling glass sound like an explosion. But it is hard to discount the people who witness such events and describe the explosion occurring first, followed by the falling glass. The retailers who sell the glass shower doors usually argue that improper installation is to blame.
For their part, the installation contractors will point to the fact that the frames, hinges, and brackets often remain in place and undamaged after such mysterious glass explosions occur. In their view, the problem lies in the tempered glass
In other words, neither the door manufacturers nor the installation professionals acknowledge any responsibility for exploding glass doors.
Several theories about the cause of exploding glass have been offered.
Does the temperature change, from warmer to cooler, affect tempered glass? A Seattle Times article reports contractor Jerry Filgiano as saying that temperature extremes can affect tempered glass, though the slow lowering of temperatures from day to night likely does not count as "extreme."
The same article says that nicked glass edges caused by a screw or bolt can cause the entire panel to shatter and that framed doors may be less apt to shatter than frameless doors.
Mark Meshulam, a Chicago building consultant who has testified as an expert on the subject, says that although such instance appears spontaneous, there is always an underlying cause.
Meshulam described tempered glass as being "like a tightly wound spring" that can reach a spontaneous breaking point for one of two reasons: an internal flaw, or damage to the glass.
A tiny, almost invisible chip or crack can occur if a door is nicked by a misaligned screw or is bumped along the delicate outer edges. Such damage does not cause the door to break immediately, but may suddenly give way as temperature changes cause the glass to expand and contract, or even due to vibrations caused by noise.
More rarely, doors can break due to nickel sulfide inclusion, a defect that occurs during the manufacturing process. When a piece of foreign material gets trapped inside the glass when it is manufactured, over time it can cause the glass to shatter for no obvious reason.
It's important to note that actual injuries from exploding sliding shower enclosure glass are very rare. That's because the tempering process used to create safety glass causes it to break into very small pieces rather than large, sharp shards. But while this is the greatest strength of tempered glass, it is also a weakness. The heating process of tempering causes the tensile strength of the glass to be altered, and while this makes it much more resistant to direct impact, it also becomes more susceptible to side impact. A piece of tempered glass may withstand a baseball crashing into its face, but it may shatter easily if struck with a mild blow on the edge.