Shower doors and tub enclosures play an important role in your bathroom. Not only do these structures keep water contained within the bath and shower where it belongs, but also they impact the overall style and decor of your space. While traditional shower doors and tub enclosures relied on a metal frame for structural support and strength, homeowners now have the option to choose frameless enclosures, which eliminate frames in favor of thicker glass and heavy hardware.
Framed Door Properties
Framed shower doors traditionally feature aluminum or composite frames surrounding sheets of tempered or textured glass. The frames may be coated to create a chrome, bronze, nickel or gold finish. The metal on a framed shower door not only surrounds the operable part of the partition, but also other parts of the enclosure, such as the top, bottom, sides and joints. Seals, sweeps and magnetic hardware around the door help to create a watertight fit, keeping water from the shower and bath from leaking onto the floor of the bathroom.
Frameless Door Properties
Frameless shower doors rely on heavy-duty glass and special pivots for structural support. These units are free of metal around the operable part of the partition, but some may incorporate a metal frame or tracks along other parts of the enclosure, such as the bottom or edges. Shower doors and tub enclosures with metal on any part of the structure are sometimes referred to as semi-frameless.
Framed Door Pros and Cons
Thanks to their metal frame, framed doors and enclosures are highly effective at keeping water where it belongs. The seals and sweeps that come with these doors mean that the door can be placed anywhere, even right next to or in front of the shower spray, without fear of leaks. With no need for highly polished edges, thicker glass and specialty hardware, framed enclosures also tend to cost less than frameless models. They also offer plenty of decorative glass options because the frame lends much of the support needed for the enclosure, so less strength is needed from the glass itself. Drawbacks to framed enclosures are that they may appear dated in modern bathrooms, and they come in a limited range of sizes and shapes. Due to the frame, the doors on these structures only open out, which limits design options and layout.
Frameless Pros and Cons
The greatest advantage to using frameless shower doors lies in the variety of design options available. Frameless shower and tub enclosures may come in any size or style, allowing for optimal customization. The doors open in or out based on layout and design needs. With no frames to get in the way, frameless doors provide a more open, airy look, making it easy to show off beautiful tiles and other finishes. The lack of frames also makes for easier cleaning. Thanks to the heavier glass and smooth polished edges, frameless enclosures come at a premium price point compared to framed shower doors. The lack of seals and sweeps also means a greater chance of leaks, and limits where you can place the door in relation to the showerhead. For example, positioning the door in front of the flow of the shower could result in leaks through the gaps around the doors.