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Shower door vs. shower curtain: if you’re remodeling – or even just redecorating – a bathroom, this is a matter you’ll have to settle.

Shower door vs. shower curtain: if you’re remodeling – or even just redecorating – a bathroom, this is a matter you’ll have to settle. Both products are widely used in American homes, and each has its pros and cons. Some homeowners will use one or the other in every bathroom, while others use glass doors for some showers and curtains for others. Let’s explore everything you need to know for successfully enclosing YOUR shower.

  1. What are the important shower door and shower curtain basics?
  2. Which is the best choice for a budget conscious home decorator?
  3. Are there ways to make a glass shower door or enclosure less pricey?
  4. Are shower doors or shower curtains more on-trend?
  5. Will a curtain or a door give me better water containment?
  6. How do shower doors and curtains compare in terms of mold and mildew issues?
  7. Shower curtains are available in so many colors and patterns; can a door be tailored to my tastes, too?
  8. Which choice is best if I don’t like to spend a lot of time cleaning?
  9. Is one product preferable over the other in certain situations?
  10. If I decide on a glass shower door, how can I have one delivered and installed?

1. What are the important shower door and shower curtain basics?

Let’s answer some FAQs about shower doors and curtains to get started.

What are shower doors made of?

You probably know that shower doors primarily consist of glass, but it’s important to note that standard annealed glass is never used. Since shower glass is used frequently and in close proximity to people, only tempered glass or laminated glass may be used on a shower enclosure. In addition to the glass, shower doors have metal components and sometimes vinyl seals.

Are both swinging and sliding shower door options available?

Yes. Glass shower doors can swing on wall mounted or pivot hinges, but you can also choose frameless rolling doors or semi-frameless bypass doors.

Where can a I buy a glass shower door?

Custom glass shower door installation is offered by glass companies such as ABC Glass & Mirror of Manassas Park, VA. Shower door kits are also available online and from home improvement retailers. However, you will have to do the installation yourself, and the glass panels won’t be custom-cut to fit in your bathroom.

Before and after view of curtains versus glass shower door.

How do shower curtains provide water containment?

A shower curtain is typically paired with a liner, and both hang from the curtain rod on the same rings. The liner must rest inside the tub basin, while the curtain hangs on the outside. Also, both curtain and liner need to be pulled across the entire shower entrance to block rogue water droplets.

What are shower curtains made off?

Shower curtains and liners are typically made of cloth or vinyl. Water resistant coatings or mildew fighting treatments are sometimes applied.

Where can I get a shower curtain?

Shower curtains and liners are available at a wide range of retailers including discount stores, department stores, home improvement stores, and online.

2. Which is the best choice for a budget conscious home decorator?

There is no doubt that a shower curtain is significantly cheaper than a glass shower door. However, this basic reality does not necessarily determine which choice is right for your situation. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each investment.

Shower Curtains


Pro: 
Shower curtains can be easily purchased online or at a store with prices starting around $15. Unless you already have them, you will also need a curtain rod and hooks, but these are also fairly inexpensive.

Pro: Hanging a shower curtain is typically a quick DIY task, especially if the rod is already place.


Pro: 
If you get tired of the shower curtain or want to change the bathroom’s style, switching to a new curtain is cheap and easy.

Con: On the whole, a shower curtain is a less luxurious and fashionable choice. If you’re getting your home ready to sell, for instance, a new shower curtain will not boost the home’s appeal like a glass shower can.

Con: While a shower curtain is fairly inexpensive, the water containment is offers can be iffy. For example, if the liner and curtain aren’t properly arranged, you’ll likely end up with a puddle on the bathroom floor. Over time, this can lead to costly problems relating to rot, paint damage, and mildew.

Example of bathroom shower curtain versus glass frameless shower enclosure.

Glass Shower Door


Pro: 
A glass shower door can modernize a bathroom and make it more appealing to potential homebuyers.

Pro: A shower door or enclosure is more costly than a curtain, but it’s an investment that adds to your bathroom’s convenience and visual appeal for years to come.

Pro: Along with its higher price point, a glass shower barrier brings benefits that shower curtains can’t offer, such as transparency to make the bathroom look larger as well as more reliable water containment.

Con: A glass shower door is more expensive than a curtain, so your financial situation needs to be such that it’s the right time to make this investment into your home.

3. Are there ways to make a glass shower door or enclosure less pricey?

Yes! If you want a glass shower but are concerned about the cost, there are a few different ways to make it less expensive. At the same time, be sure you’re getting your money’s worth by working with a reputable, highly rated glass shop. Keep in mind that the lowest price is usually not the best investment, and if a price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Instead, look into one of these price-lowering options.

Consider a shower screen. Depending on your shower and bathroom, you may not need to fully enclose the shower entrance with glass.
  • Consider a shower screen. Depending on your shower and bathroom, you may not need to fully enclose the shower entrance with glass. Less glass and metal can mean a lower cost. A shower screen is a single piece of fixed or hinged glass that acts as a water barrier. A portion of the shower is left open for entry and exit, so this product is also great for making a small bathroom feel more spacious.
Use some framing. Frameless glass showers are the most popular option, but glaziers can use thinner (less pricey) glass if some framing is present, and this reduces your cost as well.
  • Use some framing. Frameless glass showers are the most popular option, but glaziers can use thinner (less pricey) glass if some framing is present, and this reduces your cost as well. Semi-frameless designs include framing as well as some frameless glass edges.
Choosing from the wide range of standard glass and metal options is another way to stay within budget.
  • Choose standard options that work for you. If you order a glass shower from ABC Glass & Mirror, it will automatically be a custom item because the glass will be fabricated based on your bathroom and shower measurements. However, highly customized options like curved glass or specially ordered hardware, will drive up the price. Choosing from the wide range of standard glass and metal options is another way to stay within budget.

4. Are shower doors or shower curtains more on-trend?

Glass shower doors and enclosure do seem to be the more fashion forward choice. For example, in this Houzz collection of luxury bathroom pics, glass showers are predominant with not a single shower curtain to be seen. While shower curtains will most likely always be an acceptable décor choice, they do not bring a bathroom in line with today’s hottest trends and styles the way a glass door or enclosure will. Currently, two glass shower designs vie for the top spot:

  • Frameless: For some years now, frameless glass showers have been the product of choice for the most beautiful bathrooms. Aluminum framing is eliminated, and the enclosure is constructed with small metal clips, caulk joints, and hinges. (Some units include a metal header if needed for function or stability.) Clear glass is most commonly used so that the shower area and the rest of the bathroom form a contiguous whole.
Frameless glass showers have been the product of choice for the most beautiful bathrooms. Aluminum framing is eliminated, and the enclosure is constructed with small metal clips, caulk joints, and hinges.
  • Crittall Style: Recently, Crittall style glass showers are competing with the popular frameless units. These also feature clear glass, but it is contrasted with black metal framing and mullions. This style hearkens back to vintage steel framed windows popularized in 1900s England. Since it is both classic and trendy, it works with just about every bathroom style – cottage, farmhouse, contemporary chic, Japandi, transitional, maximalist, and more.
Crittall style glass showers are competing with the popular frameless units. These also feature clear glass, but it is contrasted with black metal framing and mullions.

5. Will a curtain or a door give me better water containment?

Both options can work well for water containment, but experience suggests that glass shower doors can be more reliable. A few points to consider:

  • For a curtain to block shower spray droplets, it typically must be paired with a liner, carefully pulled shut each time it’s used, and draped on either side of the tub wall. This can become problematic if children or teens use the shower and forget to do this.
  • Closing a shower door is more straightforward, and once it’s shut the water should be blocked.
  • Aiming the shower spray at a gap or seam in a glass enclosure will result in leaks, so be thoughtful in the placement of the shower head and any body jets.
  • Walk-in shower enclosures and stalls with shower screens have open entrances. The glass that’s present will block some water, but appropriate floor slope, drain placement, and shower spray location are also crucial.
  • The angle of the shower curb will also impact the likelihood of leaks. It should always have a ¼” – ½” slope toward the shower floor.
Prevent shower water leaks.

6. How do shower doors and curtains compare in terms of mold and mildew issues?

Showers use water, so any shower area is somewhat vulnerable to mold and mildew growth. When it comes to shower curtains, the liner is often the problem point. The bottom of the liner frequently remains damp long enough for bacteria, mold, or mildew to form. Some liners are machine washable, but stains can remain after they’ve been cleansed. Tips for dealing with this include:

  • Keep the bathroom well ventilated.
  • Wash the curtain and liner regularly.
  • Replace the liner as needed.

The glass and metal on a shower door cannot get infested with mold, mildew, and bacteria the way cloth can. However, even a shower enclosed with glass is at risk of yucky situations if it’s not properly cared for. Tips for avoiding problems include:

  • Be thoughtful about shower design. Avoid creating unnecessary gaps or unreachable spaces that can’t be cleaned.
  • Dry the shower area after use to remove the moisture needed for some of the these things to grow.
  • Clean the shower area weekly and deal with any mold, mildew, or visible bacteria growth immediately.
  • Choose a frameless shower door or enclosure for a smooth surface that’s easier to dry and clean and is free of the nooks and crannies that accompany framing and metal tracking.
Keep the bathroom well ventilated. Wash the curtain and liner regularly. Replace the liner as needed.

7. Shower curtains are available in so many colors and patterns; can a door be tailored to my tastes, too?

Glass showers can definitely be customized to meet your décor goals and practical needs. Of course, you won’t see the same wide variety of colors, patterns, and pictures that are found on shower curtains, but glass showers are known for their versatility. This means that a glass shower will typically match any color scheme and many themes and decorating styles. Thus, while you’ll want a new shower curtain when you change your bathroom design, a glass shower will still “match” even if you alter the color palette and décor accent items.

One way to customize a shower door or enclosure is through the type of glass chosen. Let’s take a closer look at 5 typical categories of glass offered by custom shower companies.

  • Clear: Clear glass takes the top spot for popularity. It doesn’t block the shower tile, makes the bathroom and shower area seem bigger, and is easier to clean than glass with surface detailing. Standard clear glass is commonly used, but it does have a greenish hue around the edges If you want to minimize this, low iron glass is a nice option.
Clear glass takes the top spot for popularity. It doesn’t block the shower tile, makes the bathroom and shower area seem bigger, and is easier to clean than glass with surface detailing.
Switching over to privacy glass products, acid-etched glass is a favorite. Its evenly frosted surface provides a level of seclusion within the shower stall and it coordinates with lots of popular bathroom styles such as Japandi, Scandinavian, transitional, and contemporary chic.
  • Acid-Etched: Switching over to privacy glass products, acid-etched glass is a favorite. Its evenly frosted surface provides a level of seclusion within the shower stall and it coordinates with lots of popular bathroom styles such as Japandi, Scandinavian, transitional, and contemporary chic.
  • Patterned: Patterned glass is another great option in vision-obscuring glass. You can choose from an array of subtle, bold, abstract, and picturesque patterns in accord with your decorating theme.
Patterned glass is another great option in vision-obscuring glass. You can choose from an array of subtle, bold, abstract, and picturesque patterns in accord with your decorating theme.
If you want a smooth, easy to clean surface as well as a bit more privacy, tinted glass can be an appealing choice. Bronze and gray are the shades offered by ABC Glass & Mirror.
  • Tinted: If you want a smooth, easy to clean surface as well as a bit more privacy, tinted glass can be an appealing choice. Bronze and gray are the shades offered by ABC Glass & Mirror.
  • Cast: Cast glass is formed in a mold and has a very distinctive look because it is heavily textured. It transforms a shower into an impressive statement piece, but the deep ridges and grooves can make cleaning more challenging.
Cast glass is formed in a mold and has a very distinctive look because it is heavily textured. It transforms a shower into an impressive statement piece, but the deep ridges and grooves can make cleaning more challenging.

Glass showers can also be tailored to your preferences in these ways:

  • Level/Style of Framing: frameless, semi-frameless, framed, Crittall style
  • Hardware Style and Finish: Hinge and handle shape, finish on metal components, framing thickness
  • Door Type: single swinging, double swinging (French doors), rolling frameless, bypass 
  • Enclosure Type: in-line door and panel on shower or tub, double shower or tub doors, neo-angle corner shower, right angle corner shower, custom design
Frameless glass. glass-to-glass, single swinging, 90 degree frameless, rolling "barn style"

8. Which option is best if I don’t like to spend a lot of time cleaning?

Shower curtains and liners can be wiped down or spot cleaned, but more often they are machine washed or replaced. If the curtain and liner combo isn’t keeping water in the shower very well, moisture on the bathroom floor can lead to nasty buildup as well as mold issues that make cleaning day more of a chore. One pitfall that can occur is cleaning the tub and shower and not noticing that the liner is moldy or infested with pink bacteria. This is especially embarrassing if you’re preparing the bathroom for guests!

On the other hand, a glass shower door or enclosure will need to be cleaned regularly. However, you can minimize this by ordering coated glass. While spray-on glass protectants are better than nothing, custom glass shops such as ABC offer permanently protected shower glass. Benefits include:

  • The glass is safeguarded from corrosive elements that can permanently mar it.
  • Your shower glass stays clean longer.
  • Permanently protected glass is easier to clean.

9. Is one product preferable over the other in certain situations?

In most circumstances, shower doors and shower curtains can be used interchangeably. Rarely, the structure and layout of a bathroom/shower will make it difficult or impossible to add glass. In addition, there are some situations that make one or the other more desirable.

The luxury and beauty of glass showers make them especially attractive in these settings:

  • A romantic master suite
  • An upscale guest bathroom
  • The main bathroom in a home you’re getting ready to sell

Also, the reliable water containment provided by shower doors makes them appealing for showers used by children and teens. 

However, if you have a tub where you bathe a baby, help a toddler with hair-washing, etc., a curtain may be more convenient. You can push the curtain aside and open up almost the entire tub entrance, giving yourself plenty of room to maneuver as you assist your infant or young child.

The luxury and beauty of glass showers make them especially attractive in these settings: A romantic master suite, An upscale guest bathroom, The main bathroom in a home you’re getting ready to sell.

10. If I decide on a glass shower door, how can I have one delivered and installed?

Homeowners in Northern Virginia and the surrounding areas can contact ABC Glass & Mirror of Manassas Park at (703)257-7150. The general process will look like this:

  1. Schedule a free in-home consultation with an ABC glazier who will take measurements, record observations, and answer your questions.
  2. Receive an emailed quote for your consideration.
  3. Reach out to us to order your desired items.

Once your custom glass and shower hardware are ready, we’ll set up another visit to your home, and an installation team will put the door or enclosure in its place. ABC is a veteran-owned family business with long-standing ties to the area and a commitment to customer satisfaction. If you’ve been wanting to upgrade your bathroom with shower glass, we invite you to call us and learn more about the many options we offer!

Before and after example of shower curtain versus frameless shower enclosure.

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