Glass Shower Door Options

How to Choose the Perfect Glass Shower Door or Enclosure

Updating your bathroom? If you’ve decided to include a glass shower enclosure, you’ve probably realized that there are many options.

Sifting through the choices available can be overwhelming: do you want the door to swing open or slide? Do you need the thickest glass or the thinnest? What pattern or style of glass suits you best? Should you go with frameless doors, framed, or semi-framed?

Read on to find out how to choose the best glass shower enclosure for your bathroom, and be confident in your decisions.

Glass shower door

McManus Kitchen and Bath is a full service remodeling company with an in-house design team and showroom right here in Tallahassee, FL. 

We work exclusively with homeowners to help them remodel using a design-build approach that saves time, avoids confusion and creates better results. 

Framed, Semi-Framed, or Frameless?

The first big decision you need to make is whether or not you want your glass shower enclosure framed. Each type of panel offers you different pros and cons, so deciding what is best for your bathroom can be overwhelming. Let’s look at the three options in depth.

Shower with Barrier, framed shower door

Framed shower doors have a metal frame  and the glass is usually 1/4 inch thick

Framed Glass Shower Doors and Enclosures

Older shower doors are all framed. They’ve lost popularity because they tend to be hard to clean and can make a bath look cluttered with their thick frames.

They are often the least expensive option because the frame allows the use of 1/4 inch glass, which costs less, and come in stock sized that can be bought at local home centers.

As the name suggests, a framed shower enclosure features a metal frame that outlines the glass panels. It secures the panels to the bathroom walls and also often outlines the shower door. Since the frame adds strength to the glass, you can often use a thinner glass panel than you could if you used frameless glass. This means that framed glass shower enclosures are often a less expensive option.

They are also the least likely to leak. The frame helps keep the water inside the shower where it belongs. The problem with that is that sometimes water collects in the frame and can be hard to clean. 

Visually, the frame does obstruct some of the view. These days, frames are thinner than they used to be, and come in a variety of colors and styles, so if you don’t mind a little bit of the shower being obstructed, you’re sure to be able to find a look that fits your aesthetic

Semi-Framed Glass Shower Doors

Depending on the design of your shower you might not be able to use a 100% frameless enclosure. Semi frameless enclosures add strength to the glass in certain designs while still offering a clean, modern look. 

This type of glass shower door or enclosure is a hybrid between framed and frameless. Many people love the semi-framed option because the inner walls of the shower are unobstructed, but the frame also adds some interest to the design.

There are several options here: sometimes the top and bottom of the glass panels are framed, but the sides and door remain frameless. Or the door itself can be entirely framed but the wall panels left frameless. 

A semi-framed shower enclosure offers a modern look that highlights the shower itself. Price-wise, it usually falls in the middle–a little more than framed showers and a little less than completely frameless. 

The downside of semi-framed showers is that the door is often a weak spot and not as sturdy as its framed counterpart. The shower can also leak a little around the gaps where the glass is not framed. But overall, a semi-framed shower enclosure gives you the best of both worlds.

Herringbone Tile Shower

Frameless glass is almost invisible and lets the design of your shower shine 

Frameless Glass Shower Doors

Popular for their clean lines and modern, sleek look, frameless shower enclosures are very desirable. Your line of sight to the shower itself remains completely unobstructed (a great benefit if you have a beautifully tiled shower–and if you need help choosing tile for your shower, check out this link). A frameless shower makes your space look bright and open, so your bathroom appears bigger and less visually cluttered. Pieces of hardware hold the glass panels together, and they’re designed to become an aesthetic element of the shower.

Since they have no frame, the glass door has to take on more responsibility for the structure. This means you need to use thicker, heavier glass, which will cost more. Frameless showers aren’t quite as sturdy as the other types, and they, like the semi-framed ones, can leak water through the gaps in the glass.

Overall, frameless glass shower enclosures are a high-end, contemporary design for bathrooms that look and feel luxurious.

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Shower Glass Thickness

The next decision you need to make is how thick you want your glass to be–and your decision between framed, semi-framed, or frameless enclosures narrows down your options.

If you want frameless doors, you can go with either a ⅜-inch or a ½-inch thickness. Your door will need to be the same thickness as the panels. The decision really comes down to whether you want to prioritize cost or aesthetics. Generally, the thicker glass looks better, and the thinner glass costs less.

Type of Door

How do you want your shower door to open? You have two options: sliding or hinged. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, based on the look you want and the size and layout of your bathroom.

Sliding Doors

Great for small bathrooms, sliding doors have a sleek appearance. The shower width does need to be big enough that one part of the door can slide behind the other one, but since the door doesn’t swing out, other nearby fixtures won’t be a problem.


  • Good for small bathrooms
  • Has a sleek look
  • You can hang towels on the door handles


  • The track can rust and be difficult to keep clean
  • The track can be a trip hazard–it’s not a curbless design
  • The door doesn’t open very wide

Hinged Doors

Hinged doors give that clean, minimalist appearance that is very attractive. Especially when left frameless, these doors look on-trend and luxurious. They need a little more space than sliding doors, although it is possible to get a hinged door that swings in.


  • No track to deal with
  • Easier to clean than sliding doors
  • Classy, minimalist appearance
  • Swing-in option available


  • More expensive than sliding doors
  • Generally needs customization
  • Not as good for small spaces
  • Water can leak from the door area, and drip when it’s opened
Rain Glass Shower Enclosure

Pattern glass, like this rain glass shower enclosure, can really give you bath a luxe feel.

Style and Pattern

There are many options available for the glass itself–choosing the style and pattern for your glass shower enclosure is the icing on the cake. You can choose between clear and textured glass.

Clear Glass

Clear glass is best when you really want to show off your shower. If you have gorgeous tile, features like storage nooks or a bench, or amazing fixtures, you probably want clear glass so your shower becomes your bathroom focal point. Or if your bathroom is small or dark, you may want to go with clear glass as it will visually enlarge the room and make it appear brighter. 

Clear glass is smooth, so it’s easy to clean. Of course, it also needs cleaning more often as it will show water spots. Clear glass also doesn’t give you much privacy, so if that’s a factor, it may not be what you want. 

If you really want your glass to sparkle, consider using low-iron glass. This is when the greenish tint of the glass is removed, making it super-clear and beautiful.

Textured Glass

You may want to consider one of the many types of textured glass. If you want more privacy, textured glass gives you the light and airy look of a glass shower enclosure with opaque panels. A textured glass shower enclosure doesn’t add quite as much light or visual openness as clear glass, but it does allow you to customize the look a little more. If the actual shower walls aren’t the focal point of your bathroom, the textured glass panels can be.

While textured glass is a little trickier to clean, it also won’t show every water spot, so you won’t have to clean it as often. It can be more expensive than clear glass, so keep that in mind. And make sure you choose a classic design so you don’t end up with panels that look dated in a few years.

There are many types of textures available, including

  • Frosted or opaque: you can see through it, but it adds a bit of opacity.
  • Patterned: a pattern is etched in the glass. There are many to choose from like abstract designs, flowers, waves, and mosaic-like patterns.
  • Rain: looks like a window covered in rain. It’s beautiful, provides some privacy, and hides fingerprints and imperfections.
  • Hammered: a unique, somewhat opaque appearance.
  • Tinted: glass is tinted with colors like blue, gray, or bronze.

Once you’ve thought through these options, you’re ready to start designing the shower of your dreams. If you have questions, we’d love to help. If you’re ready to start a shower or bathroom remodel in your Tallahassee home, contact us today to get started. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the gorgeous glass shower enclosure that you designed yourself, confident that the elements you chose were the best ones for your home.

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