A shower enclosure is the centerpiece of any bathroom. Accordingly, when installing or remodeling a shower enclosure, it’s important to take a mindful approach to design. Additionally, after the enclosure is completed, ongoing maintenance is necessary to protect your investment. In the following article, seven Diamond Certified Expert Contributors share their tips for designing and maintaining a shower enclosure.
Choosing Shower Glass
Naturally, when installing or remodeling a shower enclosure, one of the first things you’ll need to do is choose a glass product. Jason Patterson, owner of See Through Glass & Door, says you basically have two options. “The most commonly used shower glass products are standard tempered glass and starphire glass. The biggest differences between these two products are their aesthetic qualities. Whereas standard tempered glass has a greenish tint, starphire glass’ tint is more bluish, which gives it a more pleasing quality of light diffusion. Starphire glass also offers superior clarity compared to standard glass. This is the result of a unique manufacturing process, during which most of the glass’ innate heavy metals are removed.”
However, even a high-end product like starphire glass is vulnerable to damage caused by mold, water and soap residue. While regular maintenance will help prevent this, a more surefire measure is purchasing a glass product that has been pretreated to resist these elements. Tom Nolan, president of California Shower Door Corporation, recommends ShowerGuard® glass. “With ShowerGuard, the formula is actually baked onto the glass itself, as opposed to a liquid solution that’s applied externally,” he explains. “This provides permanent protection against corrosion and staining.”
Designing Your Shower Enclosure
Choosing shower glass is just one part of the larger project of designing your shower enclosure. Ideally, you should choose a visually appealing design that also serves your specific needs. Here are some aspects you’ll need to consider:
Framed or frameless?
Whereas framed shower enclosures have a metal surround, frameless enclosures usually have little to no framing and are generally made of a solid sheet of glass. Frameless enclosures are a modern style and can be easier to clean and maintain due to their lack of framing.
Frames and hardware for glass shower enclosures come in a variety of metals, including nickel, chrome, bronze and brass in brushed, oil rubbed, and other finishes. This completes the look of the enclosure and should be carefully planned to match fixtures and other bathroom metal details.
Showers have three basic foundation options: tiled floor, shower tray or alcove bathtub. Each has its pros and cons, and your decision will inform the rest of your choices and the finished product.
Additional Design Options
Joe Matthews, general manager of Schicker Luxury Shower Doors, Inc., suggests considering custom features for your shower enclosure. “One increasingly popular design option is to fully enclose the shower for the purpose of steam encapsulation, which creates a spa-like atmosphere,” he explains. “A common feature of these shower enclosures is an operative transom above the door, which can be kept closed to hold in the steam or opened to let it escape. By providing ventilation when desired, this feature allows for a fully customizable bathing experience.”
For some homeowners, another worthwhile consideration is “aging in place” design, which focuses on maximizing shower safety and accessibility. Kimeri Opacic, marketing director for ReBath by Schicker, says there are a couple of related options. “You might consider converting your current shower to one with a zero threshold, which means the entryway is level with the floor to allow easy access for walkers and wheelchairs. Another important component of bathroom safety is grab bars. While traditional grab bars often have an unpleasant, institutional look to them, there are lines of designer grab bars that enhance safety without diminishing aesthetics.”
To learn more about “aging in place” bathroom design, watch Ms. Opacic’s full Expert video:
Cleaning Your Glass Shower Enclosure
Soap scum, mold, and water stains are common issues with shower glass and can cause permanent damage over time. Fortunately, if you’re proactive, you can prevent this. And even if you’ve neglected your shower glass until now, there may still be hope.
On the preventative side, Mr. Nolan recommends a product that coats shower glass to reduce the chances for staining. “ is a coating that’s applied to the interior of the shower glass,” he explains. “It gets into the pores of the glass so contaminants can’t, which makes cleaning easier and less frequent and consequently helps prevent water stains.”
Mr. Nolan also recommends wiping off your shower glass with a squeegee or microfiber cloth after every shower to displace moisture. To make this measure more effective, use a product like CRL Somaca Hi-Sheen® Glass Cleaner, which can be applied with a microfiber cloth. If your shower glass already has water stains, Mr. Nolan recommends applying a gamma cream. By removing any water spots that haven’t settled into the glass, this product prevents further stains from developing.
For those who are mindful about shower maintenance but prefer a more eco- or budget-friendly option, here are a few alternative methods to try:
- For a chemical-free glass cleaning treatment, Chris Young of J & M Windows & Glass, Inc. suggests using a baking powder paste. Apply it to the glass and leave it for 20 minutes, then rinse it off with a wet sponge and dry it with a soft cloth.
- Ehsan Rezaee, owner of Molly Maid of Sonoma County, recommends a tried-and-true home cleaning remedy for removing dirty buildup: a solution of water and vinegar.
- To prevent water spots, Jim Wu, owner of Optimum Cleaning Services, recommends applying Rain-X to your shower doors. A water repellant that’s typically used on car windshields during the rainy season, Rain-X causes water to run off glass surfaces rather than stick to them. By regularly applying Rain-X to your shower doors, you can stop water spots before they start.