Frameless Swinging Enclosure (heavy glass)
Frameless shower doors can be installed with 1/4" thick glass using junior hinges, but we do not recommend it and this is usually only done when conditions do not allow the use of thicker glass. 3/8" glass is the standard thickness for our frameless doors. If you request an estimate and do not specify a thickness, this is the thickness we use for the estimate. For a very solid and heavy door with very little glass flex, 1/2" is a third option. This is the thickest glass used to install frameless shower enclosures. It gives the entire enclosure more strength and a more substantial feel, as well as a slightly different aesthetic appeal.
Each swinging door requires two hinges, with a third hinge as an option for extra heavy or large doors. We offer two types of hinges: pivot and side-mount. The hinges are available in fourteen styles and up to 25 finishes, though some hinge styles have limited finish options. These hinges need to be mounted to a solid surface, such as ceramic tile or marble, and not to fiberglass or acrylic modular walls.
If using side-mounted hinges there also needs to be solid wood backing in the wall behind the cementitious backer board, typically a couple of 2x4 studs positioned side-by-side with the 3-1/2" dimensions perpendicular with the wall.
Doors can be mounted off walls, glass panels, or headers. Mounting off glass panels requires more glass fabrication and glass-to-glass hinges, and are therefore the most expensive option of the three. Mounting off headers requires pivot hinges and is a good option when the door is not near a wall.
Doors are installed so that they swing out into the bathroom by default. However, all the hinges can be set up to allow the doors to swing in and out - we never install the doors to swing in only. Swinging both ways does not provide as good a seal against water leakage as a door that swings out only, being that an outswing door has a polycarbonate strike to close against. For this reason a door that swings both ways is usually best for larger showers where body sprays or shower heads are not as likely to direct streams of water at the seam.
- Pivot hinges
Pivot hinges are positioned at the top and bottom of the door, and when used with a header can allow the pivot point of the door to be moved further from the wall. Shifting the pivot point away from the wall can provide the additional clearance needed to allow a door to fully open without hitting wall-mounted towel bars or other bathroom obstacles. However, this also decreases the amount of walk-through space. For example, a 26" wide door with a pivot point moved 4" in from the wall will leave a walk-through space of about 22".
Because the pivot hinges are positioned at the top and bottom of the glass, many people believe they contribute more to an all glass appearance. The reason being that with side-mounted hinges the hinges are within visual sightlines, whereas pivot hinges are at the periphery.
- Side-mount hinges
Side-mounted hinges are typically positioned 8" down from the top and up from the bottom, to the center of the hinge. However, hinge placement can be positioned up or down a little to avoid decorative tile or other issues. If a third hinge is used then it is centered between the other two hinges.
Side-mounted hinges are usually less expensive than pivot hinges, and are available with more styles to choose from. Some hinges have options for offset backplates, where the plate mounting to the wall is offset toward the inside of the shower so that the outside appearence is flush with the glass.
Handles, Towel Bars and Knobs
- Door handles
Most frameless shower doors are installed with a pull handle that goes through the glass. Various styles are available to choose from. They can be single-sided or back-to-back, as illustrated in the image to the right. The most common sizes are 6" and 8", with 8" being the default size for our frameless shower doors.
- Towel bars
A towel bar can be installed on the door or on a panel next to the door. Usually this is only done if there is limited wall space in the bathroom for towel bars, or for convenience. If installed on the door we usually install the towel bar in combination with an inside pull handle, as shown in the picture to the left. If desired, a single-sided towel bar can be installed on an inline panel next to the door, but we do not recommend towel bars on the inside of the shower since there could be a tendency to use them as support bars.
- Pull knobs
There are various styles of pull knobs that can be used in place of a pull handle, or for an operable transom if the enclosure is a steam enclosure. When people choose to have a knob on their door instead of a pull handle, it is usually to minimize the amount of metal. The most common use for pull knobs is for operable transoms.
Headers and Support Bars
A header is a metal bar that goes across the top of the enclosure. It is not required for single doors, or for some configurations where the door is mounted to the wall. However, when shower enclosures have multiple panels or extra large panels, a header is a good way to provide the necessary support. We prefer to use the deluxe header from C.R.Laurence pictured here, with the flat side to the inside of the shower. The header can also be used with the flat side facing out.
A header will add on average $100 - $200 to the cost of the enclosure, depending on the size of the enclosure and the metal finish. However, most people are more concerned with eliminating the header for aesthetic reasons.
- Support bars
Support bars can sometimes be used instead of a header. They can be mounted on an opposite wall, a 90° wall as pictured to the right, or a ceiling. Some support bars require a hole through the glass, which would need to be decided before the glass is tempered. Other support bars have a clamp that fits over the top of the glass, allowing a bar to be added to existing showers.
Sleeve-over clamps do not replace the need for a header or support bars in applications that require them. They can, however, give additional support to 90° corners. They can also be added to existing shower enclosures since they do not require any holes or notches in the glass.
Panel Clamps and U-channel
- Panel clamps
Panel clamps are used to secure stationary panels for a shower enclosure. Panels typically require two clamps at the bottom where the panel mounts to the tile, two at the top if the panel meets the ceiling or soffit, and one or two at the side if the panel meets the wall. The clamps at the wall are not necessary if the shower enclosure uses a header or is clamped at the ceiling. Using panel clamps eliminates the need for u-channel, which means there will be a small gap between the glass and tile. This gap will be filled with silicone for waterproofing the shower enclosure.
Using panel clamps is a more expensive option than using u-channel. The clamps themselves are more expensive than u-channel, but there is also the additional cost of hole or notch fabrication in the glass panels.
When using u-channel instead of panel clamps, the channel is required where the glass meets the tile. If using a header or if the panels go up to the ceiling, it may be possible to eliminate vertical u-channel for panels that meet the walls.
If interested in a steam enclosure, we recommend completely tiling the shower area, including the ceiling. The shower enclosure will completely enclose the space, going up to the ceiling or a soffit. An operable transom can be installed above the door for ventilation after using the shower. Without an operable transom the door would need to be left open.
If you are in the planning stages and you want an operable transom, a soffit is usually built down from the ceiling so that the overall opening height of the shower enclosure isn't too high to allow functional use of the transom. However, the transom shouldn't be set so low that you have to duck to enter the shower. The transoms are usually made about 10" to 12" high with a pivot point at the center. A door height of 72" is usually good for most people - that doesn't include the 3" to 4" height of the curb. Therefore, an opening of about seven feet is a good height to consider.
There are some limitations with transom clamps. All our clamps can support a transom 28" x 12", but when exceeding that size we must use more expensive pivot hinges. The pivot hinges are sometimes desired regardless of the transom size because they are self-closing when the transom is within 15° of closing.
Polycarbonate/vinyl seals and sweeps
The bottom of the door will have a polycarbonate sweep with flexible polyvinyl fins. There are several types of polyvinyl seals available for the hinge side of the door. Our default seal for the hinge side is a compressive fit V-seal, but some seals are better than others for various clearances, wall angles, and surface friction, so the seal used is the one determined by the installer at the time of installation as the best for that particular shower. The handle side of the door will have either a polycarbonate strike to close against, or a polyvinyl wipe if the door swings both ways.
The polycarbonates and vinyls are not expected to last forever. The regular cleaning maintenance and overall use of the shower will determine when they need replacement. Some of the vinyl is secured to the shower area with high-strength tape. This vinyl is difficult to remove. The polycarbonates that are attached to glass, such as the bottom door sweep or an H-jamb strike just fit over the edge of the glass and hold with friction. These can be pulled off the glass starting at one end. Occassionally there may be a small bead of silicone that the installer ran along the edge to prevent water entrapment. Since these parts are all custom in size, and some are notched, bringing the actual part in to our showroom is recommended when replacing the part.