There are three basic distinctions in curved shower doors: they may be hinged or sliding, and framed or unframed. A hinged shower door is supported by two or more hinges and opens like a traditional door while a sliding door rests on a track and is pushed to one side to allow entry. Framed doors are surrounded with a thin metal moulding that supports and decorates the shower door. An unframed door has very minimal hardware, creating the illusion that the door is floating. Curved shower doors are a specialty item and not typically available in large scale home remodeling stores. Usually, they must be purchased through boutique bath finishing stores or online.
Some curved shower doors are available in standard sizes, but not all showers are standard. For non-standard sizes, some curved shower doors must be custom made. These are usually very expensive and take several weeks to complete.
Whether curved shower doors are hinged or sliding, depends on the design of the shower itself. In the smallest corner showers, there is insufficient room for a sliding door and a hinged door must be used. On larger showers, either hinged or sliding doors can be used.
Most showers can accommodate either a framed or unframed shower door. Typically, if the shower itself is the design focus, because of special tile work or other features, an unframed door is used. A framed door covers a significant portion of the shower, detracting from the design.
For acrylic showers, which are quite plain, framed curved shower doors can add more visual interest. The hardware of the frame can be matched to the plumbing and lighting fixtures of the bathroom, and the design can be traditional, modern, or minimalistic.
All shower doors are available in glass and acrylic. Acrylic is typically less expensive than glass, and, in some ways, more durable. It is not as prone to chipping as glass, although it can crack with sufficient pressure. Even so, acrylic can yellow or become opaque over time. Glass, when cared for properly, will remain perfectly clear for many years.
Both acrylic and glass doors are available in clear, frosted, and opaque designs. Frosted and opaque styles provide more shower privacy, but don't allow the tile or stone of the shower to be visible. Decorative stenciling, which doesn't provide any privacy, is also available on acrylic and glass in the form of frosted etchings.