A Buyers Guide to Walk-In Shower Enclosures

Shower enclosures play an important role in limiting the dampness and mildew in your bathroom, aside from adding a bit of style to a modern bathroom. They now come in a range of styles, shapes and sizes, to suit every need and taste. With the wealth of options, choosing one may seemed a little overwhelming. If you dont know where to start, check out this buying guide.

What are the main types of shower enclosures?

To explore your options, its best to start with the three main types of shower enclosures, which are:

  • Frameless: attached only by hinges, frameless shower enclosures are an expensive option for modern enclosures but they have a spa-like, spacious appeal
  • Semi-frameless: it has metal around the enclosure except for the door. Typically, it uses thin glass. It is suitable if you have uneven walls.
  • Framed: it has metal around the door and the entire enclosure for maximum stability. It is a sturdy and inexpensive option.

What are my options for the door?

When choosing the style of your door, keep in mind the space in your bathroom, the hardware, the glass and the doors compatibility to the shower enclosure aside from the cost, upkeep and appearance.

  • Sliding: typically, this door is made of thicker glass to support the weight. You can choose from one side as fixed glass or two sides sliding on a track.
  • Swing pivot: this door swings on top and bottom for a neat look.
  • Swing hinged: the most commonly used for shower enclosures, this door is similar to how your door works at home.
  • Bi-fold doors: it folds neatly inwards in a concertina fashion to save space.

What are the different glass varieties?

Another thing to think about is the glass for they come in a range of thickness and types.

For thickness, the glass used in walk in shower enclosures is available in a range of thickness. The thicker it is, the more expensive.

  • 6mm: is used for smaller enclosures, where the glass panels are smaller and not as heavy.
  • 8mm: frameless shower doors and semi-framed enclosures use this thickness. It might need a top header for support but this does not affect its overall look.
  • 10mm: it is attractive, thats why many hotels and high-end showers have this for the glass. It is heavy, requiring greater support in the hinges and wall.

Types of glass

  • Clear: traditionally used glass for shower and door. Despite the name, it is not actually very clear for it has a slight tint of green mainly because of the iron used in the glass-making process.
  • Low iron: clearer glass thats great for showing attractive tiles or marble but expect greater cost.
  • Patterned: some glass can be patterned and coloured. Some also have chipped edges and etching.

Is a walk-in shower right for me?

Walk-in showers are a modern option for bathrooms but they do come with pros and cons. To put it simply, a walk-in shower has no doors, so it saves space. It only has a cubicle comprising of the screen and shower tray to make it easy to step straight into the showering area. Due to its design, it is not for suitable for all bathrooms. It also features a step-free design that makes it ideal for use for people with reduced mobility. Walk-in shower enclosures are also great if you want more space to shower, especially if you have a larger family.

What accessories are available for shower enclosures?

  • Handles: these are available in various options. You can choose knobs if you want something simple, small and unobtrusive and Pulls, if you want to go for a modern option that can be matched with a towel bar. Pull handles offer greater variety in shape and style.
  • Towel bars: commonly placed on the outer part of the door but in some shower doors, they can be placed in the interior.
  • Hinges: shower doors can have continuous hinges for the door to return to a closed position
  • Treated glass: glass can be treated with protectant to repel oil and water and resist UV rays. This is important if you want a low-maintenance shower enclosure.
  • Trays: trays can come in various depths and styles. Options for materials include acrylic, resin and cast stone. Check whether you need it first as most enclosures come supplied with trays.

What are the considerations on space?

Aside from measuring the available space to buy the right size and style of shower enclosure, consider where you want to locate it in your bathroom. Take into account the pipe work, lights and vents as well as the number of walls available.

It doesnt have to be difficult to decide on the best shower enclosure to buy for your bathroom. If you know the basics and the things to consider, deciding should be easy. Feel free to seek the help of professionals. Check warranty of products, and buy only from reputable manufacturers. In the end, its still a matter of personal preference and functionality.