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Hinged shower door vs. sliding shower – which is best? Answering this question is often a key aspect of your bathroom renovation

Hinged shower door vs. sliding shower – which is best? Answering this question is often a key aspect of your bathroom renovation. Once you’ve decided it’s time to update your bathroom with a new glass shower, lots of decisions remain including ones about door style and operation. We’ll take a look at the features and available options for both hinged and sliding shower doors and lay out the pros and cons of each.

    1. What is a hinged shower door?
   2. On what types of glass enclosures are hinged doors used?
   3. What are the framing options for hinged doors?
   4. What is a sliding shower door?
   5. On what types of glass enclosures are sliding shower doors used?
   6. What are the framing options for sliding doors?
   7. What if I want frameless construction AND the space efficiency of sliding glass doors?
   8. Are the same glass and hardware options available for hinged, rolling and sliding glass shower doors?
   9. What are the pros and cons of hinged shower doors?
   10. What are the pros and cons of rolling and sliding shower doors?
   11. If I’m still not sure, how can I get personalized tips about which is best for my space?

1. What is a hinged shower door?

In order to choose wisely between a hinged shower door and a sliding one, it’s important to understand the products referred to by these terms. A hinged shower door is primarily composed of glass, and tempered or laminated glass is always used because annealed glass is too fragile for this application. The sheet of glass is attached to an adjacent surface with hinges so that it can swing out into the bathroom or both inward and outward. Two hinge options are offered:

  • Wall mounted – These hinges attach the glass door to an adjoining wall or panel of glass. You see wall mounted hinges on front doors and most interior doors, so this is probably the style you’re most familiar with.
  • Pivot – This type is comprised of two hinges equidistant from the door’s edge attaching its top and bottom to the surfaces above and below it. The hinges create a point from which the door pivots open and shut.

If you’re unfamiliar with the pros and cons of each hinge type, the answers to these FAQS should be helpful.

What are the benefits of wall mounted hinges?

Wall mounted hinges offer a classic appearance that fits well in modern, traditional, transitional, and historic bathrooms. They also allow the swinging shower door to seal up when closed and don’t require a header for installation.

Are there any disadvantages to wall mounted hinges for a swinging shower door?

Wall mounted hinges are not as “low profile” as pivot hinges. This is only a drawback if you’re looking to minimize metal components on your shower door. You will also need to keep the glass clean around the hinges and keep soap scum or mineral deposits from building up there.

What are the benefits of pivot hinges for a swinging shower door?

Pivot hinges give a swinging shower door a more modern aspect. They are perfect for contemporary, modern, and transitional bathrooms. They are less noticeable than wall mounted hinges and make for simpler cleaning.

Are there any negatives to choosing pivot hinges?

Pivot hinges do not allow the door to seal up when closed. Also, since the upper hinge needs to be attached to something above it, a header may need to be installed on your shower.

Examples of pivot hinges and swing hinges

2. On what types of glass enclosures are hinged doors used?

Hinged shower doors (also known as swinging shower doors) are used on a wide variety of shower enclosures.

  • Single door – Regardless of the size of the actual stall, some showers have a relatively small entrance. A single hinged shower door is a wonderful alternative to a shower curtain and will really dress up the shower entrance.
  • French doors – If the stall has a wider entrance or if you’re looking to enclose a tub/shower combo, French doors are a beautiful option. A double set of hinged doors adds a touch of glamour to any space.
  • In-line door and panel – An alternate possibility is a hinged door installed beside a piece of fixed glass. If more glass is needed to totally enclose the tub or shower stall, 90 degree return panels can also be installed.
  • Corner showers – Corner showers are the most space friendly option for many homeowners looking to create a shower stall that’s independent of the bathtub. Hinged doors are used on both right-angle and neo-angle corner showers.
  • Custom enclosures – On a custom enclosure, the client chooses the stall dimensions, the number of fixed panels, the angles at which panels meet adjoining surfaces, the number of door panels, and so forth. Hinged doors are often part of custom glass shower designs.

3. What are the framing options for hinged doors?

Shower enclosures with hinged doors can be frameless, semi-frameless, or framed. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of each:

  • Frameless – These enclosures are built from unframed sheets of glass. Thick glass is used to give the structure strength and stability. Sometimes a metal header needs to be installed due to the bathroom’s structure or to make your desired design possible.
  • Semi-frameless – On a semi-frameless enclosure the door panels are frameless, and aluminum framing surrounds the enclosure as a whole.
  • Framed – Aluminum framing encases all glass edges on a framed unit, and thinner glass can safely be used with this type of construction.

A hinged door shower enclosure can typically be frameless, semi-frameless, or framed. Frameless design is very popular because it does a great job keeping the shower tile visible. These enclosures also offer a modern, flowing look that keeps the focus on the glass. Finally, the simplicity and minimalism of a frameless shower enclosure makes cleaning easier. Semi-frameless enclosures give you a somewhat frameless look but at a lower cost. (This is because slightly thinner glass can be used on an enclosure that includes some framing.) Traditional framed doors are less popular but stand as an appealing option if you’re renovating on a budget. 

However, a new type of framed swinging shower door has entered the market and now rivals the popularity of frameless designs. Known as Crittall style shower doors, these have clear glass, a frame of black U-channel, and a black grid on the glass. The shower tile is visible through the clear glass though somewhat blocked by the gridwork. However, this black framing is often paired with white or other light colored tile for a pleasant contrast.

Comparison of frameless, semi-frameless, framed, and crittall showers

4. What is a sliding shower door?

Instead of swinging open on hinges, a sliding glass shower door slides along tracking. These are referred to as bypass shower doors. Each unit includes two operable glass panels that can move past one another in parallel tracks. This offers a nice level of versatility by allowing you to enter or exit the shower on either side. At a glance, the characteristics of a bypass shower door system are:

  • Two moving door panels.
  • Sliding door operation.
  • Tempered (or laminated) glass.
  • 90 degree return panels added to either or both ends of the shower if needed.

There is also a Crittall style sliding door system that is comprised of a single door panel which slides past a fixed panel beside it. This product brings together an in-vogue glass and metal combo as well as space-saving door operation.

a Crittall style sliding door system that is comprised of a single door panel which slides past a fixed panel beside it

5. On what types of glass enclosures are sliding shower doors used?

As discussed above, many sliding shower doors come in pairs – two bypass doors in parallel tracks. Therefore, these are not used on shower stalls that call for a single door. You will see bypass doors on:

  • Bathtub enclosures – An ordinary bathtub with a shower head can be dressed up with sliding glass doors. If the tub is already enclosed on three sides, you can close off the remaining wall with a set of bypass doors.
  • Shower enclosures – Likewise, bypass doors can enclose a shower stall that is already closed off except for a wide entrance that is best served by double doors.
  • Sliding doors plus 90 degree return(s) – If a tub or shower stall is open on two or three sides, additional panels can be installed at right angles to the doors to finish off the enclosure.
  • Custom – Homeowners can also use bypass doors on custom glass showers with unique dimensions, angles, numbers of panels, etc.
many sliding shower doors come in pairs – two bypass doors in parallel tracks
An ordinary bathtub with a shower head can be dressed up with sliding glass doors

6. What are the framing options for sliding doors?

Sliding glass shower doors cannot be frameless because of the metal tracking necessary for their operation. Let’s take a closer look at the framing options that are available.

  • Semi-frameless – The bypass doors discussed earlier are typically semi-framless – the door panels themselves are unframed while the rest of the enclosure is bordered by metal framing and tracking.
  • Framed – Bypass door systems can also be fully framed if desired.

These three diverse options allow you to choose the sliding shower door most in line with your bathroom style. For instance, semi-frameless bypass doors fit in well with streamlined modern décor. Crittall style glass works with many of today’s hottest home decorating modes, such as Japandi, Scandinavian, maximalism, and granny chic.

7. What if I want frameless construction AND the space efficiency of sliding glass doors?

For some home decorators, none of the three options discussed above quite hits the mark. However, what option is available if limitations of space require sliding door operation but your design goals require frameless shower door construction? The answer is rolling shower doors. These are frameless shower doors that do not slide in metal tracks but roll along a header spanning the top of enclosure. This gives you the same space-efficiency as a sliding door but allows for the use of frameless glass. Let’s explore rolling “barn style” shower door options.

  • Single door units have one rolling door beside a fixed glass panel. 
  • ABC Glass & Mirror offers three single door “barn style” options known as the 60-Roller, 70-Roller, and 80-Roller series.
  • The Dual Roller unit has two doors that roll past one another for a highly versatile enclosure. This product is available with a metal header or with an innovative glass header for even less metal.

Like bypass doors, rolling doors can be used on bathtubs, showers, or custom glass enclosures.

8. Are the same glass and hardware options available for hinged, rolling, and sliding glass shower doors?

In general, you can choose the glass style, hardware style, and hardware finish when working with a custom glass shop such as ABC Glass & Mirror. Many of the same options are available for hinged, rolling, and sliding doors. Some specific series have more limited choices in certain areas. For example, the hardware finishes available for rolling “barn style” shower doors are polished stainless, brushed stainless, oil rubbed bronze, and matte black, while a larger assortment is offered for hinged and bypass doors. 

For most shower doors, though, you will be able to choose from these glass styles:

  • Clear – Probably today’s favorite, clear glass is available in its standard form or as “ultra-clear” glass with reduced iron content for minimal green coloration around the edges. Clear glass is easy to wash, shows off the shower’s interior, and matches any color palette.
  • Acid-etched – Acid etching can give glass a “frosted” look across its whole surface or can create a design on its exterior. Choose this to create a more private stall or to maintain a vintage feel in an older home.
  • Patterned – Various 3-dimensional patterns can also be formed on the surface of glass. This gives the glass a distinctive appearance and provides a level of privacy.
  • Tinted – Bronze and gray tinted glass are available from ABC. These combine vision obscuring properties for privacy with a smooth, easy to clean exterior.
Rain glass, clear glass acid-etched glass, and tinted glass examples

In terms of hardware, you can typically choose from a wide variety of door handles including small knobs, modern or classic handles, and handles that double as towel bars. Hinges have either beveled or square edges, and you can pick from various widths for the aluminum framing (if used).

examples of the wide variety of door handles including small knobs

9. What are the pros and cons of hinged shower doors?

Like all glass shower options, hinged shower doors provide a high-end alternative to a curtain. Understanding their specific pros and cons helps you make an informed purchase.


PRO: 
Swinging shower doors are a bit dressier than sliding doors and bring an upscale ambiance to your space.

PRO: Swinging shower doors can be customized through your choice of hinge type, glass style, handle style, hardware finish, and so on.


PRO: 
Hinged doors operate in a straightforward manner with few “moving parts,” which can minimize the need for repairs down the road.

CON: Building codes state that shower doors must be able to open out into the bathroom (even they’re hinged so that they can also swing into the stall). Therefore, sufficient empty space must be present around the shower entrance.

Before and after view of a shower curtain and glass shower enclosure

10. What are the pros and cons of rolling and sliding shower doors?

In the same way, rolling and sliding shower doors have unique sets of characteristics that make them more or less preferable for a certain bathroom. Let’s look at sliding doors first.


PRO: 
Sliding doors offer a streamlined modern look that harmonizes with many bathroom styles.


PRO: 
Sliding doors are space-friendly and require no clearance around the shower entrance.


PRO: 
Sliding doors can be customized in terms of glass style, handle style, hardware finish, framing thickness, etc.

CON: Sliding doors must be semi-frameless or framed, and these designs are not as popular as frameless. 

CON: Doors that slide along tracks are a bit more intricate. This can make cleaning more time consuming, and there are more components that could potentially have issues down the road.

Infographic about hinged versus sliding glass shower doors

The nice thing about rolling “barn style” shower doors is that they combine many of the “pros” of the other two without some of the “cons.” These shower and tub enclosures bring together the stylishness of frameless glass and the space-efficiency of gliding door operation. Like sliding doors, they have a more involved operating system as compared to hinged doors. Also, their look is on the modern side which wouldn’t be the perfect fit for a period home or vintage style bathroom.

before and after view of shower curtain versus sliding glass shower door

11. If I’m still not sure, how can I get personalized tips about which is best for my space?

Still not sure which is best for your bathroom? You can set up a free, in-home meeting with an ABC Glass & Mirror shower door specialist. At this meeting, our estimator will inspect the shower area, record pertinent measurements and observations, show you product photos and samples, answer your questions, and provide tips and suggestions based on years of shower glass experience. With this further personalized info the choice between hinged, sliding, and rolling shower doors should be easier. The rest of the process of having a glass shower installed looks like this:

  • Let the estimator know which option(s) you would like a quote for.
  • Receive a price via email.
  • Make your decision and place your order.
  • Schedule the installation appointment once we have everything ready.
  • Take it easy while one of our crews puts the glass and metal in place.

Contact ABC at (703)257-7150 to learn more and to set up your free appointment!

Man installing glass shower enclosure

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