Tired of your ragged old shower curtain? Sick of hassling with that old shower door with the worn track and the missing rollers? If it’s time to start thinking about a new door for your shower, you’ll find a wide and beautiful assortment of options awaiting you.
Whether you have a tub/shower combination or a dedicated stall shower, there are essentially three different types of doors available:
- Horizontal sliding doors: By far the most popular of the door styles is the horizontal slider, which can be used with either tub/shower combinations or with wide stall showers. A horizontal overhead track is supported by two vertical frame pieces at either side of the opening. A pair of doors then hangs from the overhead track on nylon rollers. Both of the doors are operable, with one door sliding horizontally past the other door.
- Swinging doors: Swinging doors are designed specifically for use with stall showers of virtually any width. The door is mounted onto a vertical frame using a continuous hinge and swings out away from the shower (shower doors never swing into the shower stall because of the difficulty in opening it to get to a person who has fallen or otherwise become trapped inside the stall). Swinging doors can be hinged to swing in either direction, and for showers over about 3 feet in width, there is typically one or more fixed panels next to the swinging door so that the door doesn’t have to be as wide and heavy. Swinging doors are also used in combination with glass panels and a metal framework to make up a corner shower unit.
- Accordion doors: Designed for both tub/shower combinations and stall showers, vinyl accordion doors hang on a track and fold up against one wall in small sections. This particular door style is no longer particularly popular, given the difficulty in cleaning all of its multiple panels and parts.
KNOWING WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When shopping for a new door, you have more options than you probably realize, primarily in color and style. Your first priority is to look for a door with a good solid frame and heavy-duty rollers, hinges and other hardware. The glass is required by law to be tempered, and doors with acrylic panels are no longer allowed in most areas. Be sure and look at a full-size, operable example of the door you’re interested in before you buy it.
The basics aside, the choice comes down to one of appearance. For the frame color, you’ll have a choice of chrome — typically the least expensive — gold-tone, white, almond and a variety of other colors. For the glass, the least expensive option is opaque or frosted, but you’ll also have a choice of clear, smoked, bronze-tinted, or clear or frosted glass panels with any of a variety of etched pictures. If you opt for clear glass, there are little shower squeegees you can use to quickly remove water from the glass after your shower, which helps greatly in preventing a buildup of water spots.
Some glass shops also offer doors with custom etching. You can bring them a picture, message, logo, or other artwork, and they can have the art etched into one or more of the doors or panels. This will obviously add to both the cost and the ordering time.
THE INSTALLATION OPTIONS
You’ve got two options here — do it yourself or hire it out — and the choice is directly influenced by your level of patience. Installation of a sliding or swinging shower door set requires the assembly of the frame and its installation in the shower, followed by the hanging and adjustment of the door(s), sealing of the frame, and installation of the weatherstripping.
Most shower doors are available in kits for the do-it-yourselfer, and contain all of the necessary hardware and instructions, usually with the exception of caulking or sealant for sealing the frame in the opening. Typical tools you’ll need include a screw gun, hack saw, level, caulking gun, and a couple of different sizes of drill bits — including masonry bits if you’re installing the frame against ceramic tile.
Shower doors are sold through most glass shops, as well as home centers and larger hardware stores. Given the number of options, you’ll probably only find the most common sizes and colors in stock; others will typically require a special order and, depending on the style and color, will take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks for delivery.
Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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