How Much Do Frameless Shower Doors Cost?
Why are so many homeowners choosing to upgrade their bathrooms with frameless glass shower doors? Are these specialty shower enclosures worth the cost? Their aesthetic appeal and high level of functionality cause many Americans to say yes. The truth is, fully frameless showers offer what their counterparts cannot: an unimpeded view of your tile, elimination of nooks and crannies that make cleaning difficult, and an open, airy ambiance that’s unmatched by other enclosures.
The price of frameless shower doors varies by locale and is also dependent upon a number of factors such as size, glass type, and whether you choose a custom enclosure or purchase a DIY kit. Shower door kits are offered by home improvement stores and online retailers. These homeowner-installed frameless shower doors can range in price from several hundred dollars to upwards of $1000. Custom glass showers, on the other hand, are tailored to your home and preference and have a higher price point.
The primary appeal of do-it-yourself glass shower enclosures is their relatively low cost. On the flip side, carrying out the installation can be very doable or a real headache depending on skill level and shower conditions. Certain shower conditions such as corners that are out of square or surfaces that are not level can result in a sub-par finished product when you have to make stock size sheets of glass “fit” in these spaces. Gaps and/or huge caulk joints detract from the upscale look that led you to choose a frameless shower door in the first place.
Custom Frameless Shower Enclosures
Custom shower doors are different from shower door kits in a few key ways:
- Each piece of glass is custom-fabricated based on measurements taken of your shower area.
- The enclosure can be built to accommodate structural irregularities, unusual shower dimensions, and unique designs.
- You can typically consult with glass professionals and seek their insights as you choose your glass and hardware.
- Custom shower door companies generally offer a nice array of glass and hardware options that you can mix and match to achieve the desired look.
- Custom glass doors and enclosures are typically installed by glass professionals, reducing your investment of time into the project.
As with all products, there are pros and cons to custom frameless shower doors, and one con is the heftier price tag that goes along with these attractive features. Northern Virginia homeowners, for instance, will often pay $1000 to $3000+ for a custom frameless shower door. However, this price includes professional installation, which reduces the stress of home improvement and safeguards the safety and quality of the finished project. Installation by trained glaziers is important for frameless showers in particular since the thick tempered glass used in their construction is very heavy and will not be supported by metal frames.
It is important to keep in mind that, along with your specific location, the following factors will affect your price point:
- How many panels of glass are needed to construct the enclosure and shower door. (The price often goes up with the number of panels that need to be fabricated.)
- The dimensions of the panels.
- Whether you wish to include a header, which is a thin strip of metal spanning the top of the enclosure. (Using a header usually brings down the price.)
- 3/8” or 1/2” glass. (Thinner glass costs less, but thicker glass may be needed for structural integrity.)
- Upgrades such as protected glass or specialty hardware.
The bottom line is this: If you’re investing the time and money to remodel your bathroom, it’s wise to consider upgrading to a frameless glass shower enclosure.
Shower Door Guide
As you peruse your options for glass shower doors, it is important to understand the various types of doors and enclosures currently on the market. There are tons of options from which to choose, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed!
Types of Doors:
For starters, let’s look at the three framing options:
- Frameless shower doors and enclosures do not have any metal framing around the glass. Panels are held in place by clips, hinges, and caulk joints. 3/8” or 1/2” thick glass must be used to achieve the necessary rigidity and stability. (A sub-category is frameless doors with headers, which are built from frame-free glass but include a metal header across the top of the enclosure.) Frameless units are both the most popular and the most expensive shower doors.
- Semi-frameless shower doors include both framed and frameless glass edges. They have less metal than a framed shower door, but can be built from 3/16” or 1/4” thick glass since some framing is present. Semi-frameless showers fall in the mid-range for both price and popularity.
- Framed shower doors are built from glass panels surrounded by aluminum framing. The framing allows glaziers to build these from 5/32” or 3/16” thick glass. These are the most budget friendly shower doors, but less trendy than their counterparts.
Frameless shower doors can be conveniently broken down into two general categories: swinging and sliding. Depending on the size and shape of the shower enclosure as well as homeowner preferences, a shower can have a single swinging door or a set of double doors. Each door panel will be attached to an adjacent wall by means of metal hinges, and vinyl seals will be utilized for water containment. If you are considering swinging door(s), keep in mind the clearance needed for the door(s) to open without hitting anything or blocking access to a cabinet or fixture. Per building codes, this type of door must be installed so that it can open outward even if it can also swing inward.
For this reason, as well as personal tastes, some home decorators prefer sliding glass shower doors. In the past, all sliding options were bypass shower doors, a design that is always framed or semi-frameless. This meant that the space efficiency of a sliding door system could only be achieved at the cost of foregoing a fully frameless enclosure.
Today, innovative frameless shower enclosure systems, such as barn style sliding glass shower doors make it possible to enjoy the best of both worlds. Fans of HGTV and home décor blogs know that a barn style door consists of a door panel that hangs from and glides along a metal bar. These doors are already popular substitutes for traditional interior doors when home decorators want something space-friendly and in keeping with modern décor trends. You can bring these same appealing traits to your bathroom with a frameless shower door of the same style.
Barn door style sliding glass shower doors are made from frameless glass and operate by means of rollers that move along a metal bar near the top of the enclosure. The door panel is hung next to a fixed wall of glass and slides in front of it to open. Additional glass panels are added to the shower as needed to create a complete enclosure. For extra-large showers, glaziers can install a set of double barn style doors flanked by stationary pieces of glass.
Another distinction that can help you navigate the shower door world is bathtub doors versus shower doors for a stall with no tub. Glass professionals can install frameless tub doors as well as build frameless enclosures from the floor up. As you decide between bathtub shower doors and a shower-only enclosure consider the following questions:
- Does your family need/want a bathtub? Will it be used?
- If a tub is already present, will removing it be worth the time/cost involved?
- Do you mind stepping over the tub wall to enter the shower? Do you prefer a more accessible design?
- Which option fits better with your overall décor vision for the space?
Next, let’s look at some of the other designations used to describe shower door options in the glazing world.
- In-line shower door – This term refers to any shower system in which the glass door is installed next to a glass wall on the same plane.
- Right angle shower – Glass meets glass and other walls at 90º angles on this type of enclosure.
- Neo angle shower – These are installed in corners, and a swinging door panel is flanked by glass walls that meet the door at 135º angles and the adjoining walls at 90º angles. (These are sometimes referred to as “new angle shower doors.”)
- Steam shower – Steam showers seal up from floor to ceiling to trap the steam generated by the heated shower water. They are used along with steam shower kits and include a movable transom for steam control.
- Bypass shower door – This is a system with two operable glass doors that move past one another in parallel metal tracks. It is important to keep in mind that, while convenient and budget-friendly, these doors cannot be fully frameless.
Shower Door Sizes:
Shower doors are available in a range of sizes since enclosures and shower entrances can be large or small. Some common shower doors sizes follow, with the width stated first:
- 28”, 36”, or 48” x 74” glass door
- 48” or 60” x 80” glass door
- 32” x 62” operable glass screen
- 60” x 65-1/4” glass bypass door
- 60” x 70-1/4” glass bypass door
Keep in mind that available door size also depends on the type of door/enclosure you choose. A glass professional can help you determine the ideal door dimensions for your specific shower area.
Shower Door Glass Types:
Shower doors are typically constructed from tempered glass for safety and durability, but many different styles of tempered glass are available. Clear tempered glass is far and away the most popular choice for frameless shower enclosures or several reasons.
- Clear glass unencumbered by framing is perfect for showing off intricate tile-work inside the shower.
- The use of transparent glass makes the shower enclosure itself as well as the bathroom as a whole feel larger and roomier.
- Clear glass creates a bright, open ambiance that melds with trending bathroom styles.
- The surface of clear glass is smooth and easier to clean than textured glass.
Many glass companies offer upgrades for clear glass. At ABC Glass and Mirror, for instance, customers can choose between standard clear glass and ultra-clear. Ultra-clear glass has reduced iron content which minimizes the greenish coloration that occurs at the edges of glass panels. Alternatively, clients can opt for clear ShowerGuard glass which is permanently sealed to prevent corrosion, discoloration, and staining. ShowerGuard glass preserves the clarity of your glass by keeping it clean longer and making it easier to care for.
However, for reasons of privacy or aesthetics, homeowners sometimes prefer another type of glass for a frameless shower. Additional possibilities include:
- Acid-etched glass (also referred to as frosted glass) – One of the most popular choices for privacy glass, acid-etched glass creates a secluded shower environment. The surface can be uniformly frosted or designs can be created.
- Pattern glass – Pattern glass features a textured design on its surface and gives a level of privacy. A diverse assortment of patterns are often offered by glass companies.
- Cast glass – This heavily textured glass is created by pouring molten glass into a mold where it hardens and forms cast glass. It offers a distinctive look as well as a more private shower stall.
- Tinted glass – Colors available for tinted glass depend on the company with which you are working. Bronze and grey are available from ABC Glass and Mirror.
Installing shower doors – frameless or otherwise – involves a process designed to ensure that the glass fits correctly in the shower area. The glass shower installation process outlined below is the one utilized by ABC but is probably similar to what you will encounter with glass companies nationwide.
- The first step is your initial consultation. This can take place over the phone, or we can schedule a free, in-home meeting with one of our glaziers. An in-home consultation gives the glazier the ability to view your shower area and offer more specific information and suggestions. He or she will also bring product samples for your consideration.
- The next step is the measurement and inspection of the shower area. This ideally takes place at the initial meeting, but may have to be rescheduled if the shower area is still under construction. The glass specialist will take precise measurements using levels, lasers, and a measuring tape so that the glass can be cut to fit in your unique space.
- After this, we prepare all the necessary components for your shower. Glass is fabricated, hardware is ordered, and so forth. When everything is ready, a member of our team calls you to schedule the shower door installation.
- Finally, a team of trained installers will visit your home at the appointment time and put the glass shower enclosure in place. These glaziers can answer any final questions you may have and provide information on the shower door warranty.
How to Clean Glass Shower Doors
Once you’ve had frameless glass shower doors installed, you want them to maintain their luster and sheen in the years ahead. When it comes to cleaning shower doors, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which means that you should protect your glass before taking the first shower in the new enclosure!
- One way to do this is by ordering glass that is already permanently protected. For example, ABC Glass and Mirror offers ShowerGuard glass with surfaces sealed during manufacture via ion beam technology.
- A sealant can also be added to the shower glass after manufacturing. For instance, some glass companies will apply a long-lasting coating such as EnduroShield.
- There are a number of spray-on products such as Rain-X available in stores.
Once you’ve protected your glass, create a routine for maintaining it. (link to https://www.bhg.com/homekeeping/house-cleaning/surface/how-to-clean-shower-doors/) An important aspect of this is drying the glass after each shower. To make this as convenient as possible, stash a squeegee in the bathroom. Using the squeegee, family members can dry the glass after showering in just a few minutes. It is important to form this routine because leaving the shower glass wet can expose it to corrosive minerals as well as soap scum.
Shower door glass does get dirty, but avoid the temptation to attack soap scum and hard water stains with harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing pads. These can damage both the glass and metal components of your enclosure. Always use a non-abrasive sponge or cloth along with an approved shower glass cleaner. (Lists are usually available from shower manufacturers and glass companies.) The best shower door cleaner is often a natural option such as a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar or a green cleaning agent like Seventh Generation’s Glass and Surface Cleaner or Sun and Earth Glass Cleaner. Most hardware can be cleaned with a soft cloth and a solution of water and mild dish soap, but anything made of brass should only be wiped with a soft cloth.
Increase the Value of Your Home
If you ask a realtor how to increase your home’s value, she or he is likely to suggest a bathroom remodel (link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwRo6V3B2wo), and one of the best ways to update a bathroom is by adding a frameless glass shower. Moreover, switching from a shower curtain to glass doors is a nice option for a minor bathroom renovation – sprucing things up without gutting the space and starting over! Depending on the housing market, these small-scale improvements can be smarter investments than total makeovers.
Bathroom improvements tend to have a good ROI (return on investment) in general, but even when this is not ideal, nice bathrooms make your home more appealing to prospective buyers. An inviting bathroom can give a home the edge over houses at the same price point with less attractive bathrooms, which is one reason HGTV’s Scott McGillivray says, “[N]ext to the kitchen, the bathroom is the most important room in the house when it comes to resale.” If your bathroom isn’t making an impressive first impression, the addition of a frameless glass shower will give it a real boost. Clear, frameless doors add upscale flair, make the bathroom seem larger, and update the feel of the room.
So how much do frameless shower doors cost? With prices ranging from several hundred to several thousand, the answer really depends on what you want for your home. Some of the biggest factors in determining cost are:
- Custom door vs. one-size-fits-all kit.
- Number of glass panels needed for the enclosure.
- Panel size.
- Glass type.
- Door type.
It’s helpful to decide on the basic type of enclosure you want – neo-angle, right angle, tub doors, etc. – and then prioritize the specific features that appeal to you, such as protected glass or a steam shower. You can then contact local glass companies for specific pricing options. Feel free to take a look at the ABC Glass and Mirror frameless shower doors page for more information on these trending shower enclosures. Or contact us online!