Choosing Between Frameless & Framed Shower Doors

There are a multitude of decisions to be made for a bathroom build-out or remodeling project. The homeowner must consider overall style, functionality, and cost. Choices are not just limited to paint color, flooring, or countertops in the bathroom any longer. Shower doors now have options too. Most are familiar with the traditional concept of the shower door, which have some type of aluminum or metal on all sides of the glass. However, a more modern, frameless shower door with very little visible metal surrounding the glass is catching the eye of designers and homeowners. So, which one should you choose? Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so as with any big decision you are about to make, do your research, consult a professional, and ask questions.

Keep these points in mind when trying to decide between a framed or frameless glass shower door.

Framed Shower Doors

The cost is typically less expensive than frameless shower doors because they only come in standard heights and the glass used is very thin. The frame is aluminum and comes in several metal color options for a more appealing décor aspect. The metal frame has to be attached to another frame or permanent fixture which can be very distracting to the beauty of the tile work or bathroom fixtures; however, the frame is advantageous in retaining water and preventing leaks onto the floor.

Frameless Shower Doors

The costs for labor and materials are higher than doors with frames because they are constructed with stronger, thicker and higher quality glass. Because of this, they can be custom-built to match nearly any need and specifications and completely makes visible the tile design, hardware, and accessories. They are easier to clean since they have a smoother surface area, but they do not have the splash or leak protection of a framed seal like their counterpart.

Ask a professional to provide before and after pictures of their shower door installations and decide for yourself which option is best for you.

  • Reflective coatings – reduces transmission of solar radiation
  • Low-e coatings (metallic oxide layers deposited on the glass) – controls heat transfer
  • Tinted glass – absorbs incoming solar radiation
  • Spectrally selective coatings – filter out up to 70 % of normally transmitted heat

These coatings (except for spectrally selective coatings) also lower a window’s VT (visible transmittance).

These strategies for window design selection and placement, should be considered in the new home design or remodel to take advantage of whole-house design and the building of an energy-efficient home.