What is a Frameless Shower?

Frameless shower doors have become extremely popular in the last several years, and are pretty much standard in high-end new homes and remodel projects. But what are they? Frameless is precisely what it sounds like – glass without any sort of metal frame around the edges.

If the look of a frameless door has grabbed your attention, there are some things you may need to consider before making that choice. Both framed and frameless options have positive and negative features. Here are a few to consider:

Framed shower doors are made from thinner, weaker glass, and require a metal frame around the outer perimeter to strengthen the enclosure. The frame is generally made from aluminum which is powder coated in any number of stylish finishes. Frameless shower doors are made of thicker, still tempered, glass that is sealed on all edges with thick silicone caulk. The hardware on frameless doors is set into the glass, rather than the metal frame like on framed doors, and is sealed with silicone caulk to prevent leaking.

The glass on both framed and frameless doors can be clear, frosted, textured, or tinted. The most significant difference, aside from the cosmetic appearance of having or not having a metal frame, is the enclosure. The most common framed shower doors are sliding doors enclosing a standard bathtub. It is not possible to have a frameless sliding door, so if you have a standard bathtub and no space for a hinged door to open and close, frameless will not be an option. Large and custom enclosures are ideal for frameless glass, but smaller, standard size doors can be frameless as well as long as there is sufficient space. Frameless doors are generally considered more upscale and modern, while framed doors are viewed as heavier and more traditional in appearance.

It can be tricky to compare costs for shower doors due to the many different factors that contribute to the price. Size, height, glass type, and whether or not the door is in stock or has to be custom made can all affect the cost. A custom door will always cost more for both materials and installation. Prices for frameless doors have come down slightly as they become more and more popular and larger quantities are produced, but they are still considered an upgrade and priced accordingly.

The most common framed shower door is the sliding door. A sliding door requires both a top and bottom track for the door to slide in, and thus lots of potential for mold, mildew, and gunk to build up. Cleaning these tracks is ongoing and often challenging. Frameless shower doors are less likely to suffer from these problems because they do not collect water. The glass on frameless doors is also more likely to have been treated to prevent water spots, making easy cleaning the reason many customers choose frameless.

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