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What Are the Different Types of Framed Shower Doors?

Amy Rodriguez
Amy Rodriguez

Framed shower door designers offer two basic types of construction, either swing or sliding doorways. Each choice provides different aesthetics for a bathroom's decor, based on spatial dimensions and homeowner desires. As bathroom styles evolve, manufacturers are finding new ways to enhance the functionality of the shower while retaining elegance.

The frame of a shower door is commonly made from aluminum, but can vary in material for a customized appearance. Some framed shower doors have paint applied to the frame's exterior for coordinating with the surrounding bathroom colors. The glass door is securely enclosed within the tightly installed frame, preventing cracks or damage to the glass during opening and closing motions.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Common framed shower doors are installed as sliding mechanisms. Two framed glass doors are positioned on railway runners that are mounted on the edge of the tub, or shower floor. The user simply pushes one of the doors to the side for accessing the shower area. Typically, the frame has an embedded handle at hip level for grasping the glass door. Rubber cushions line the frame's opposite edge to absorb any impact once the sliding door has reached the shower wall.

Sliding framed shower doors can be customized into almost any size, based on the shower's dimensions. The only limitation to the door size is the glass weight affecting the frame's structure. The frame must be able to support the glass; heavy glass doors will make sliding more difficult, possibly warping the frame over time.

Swing-type shower doors resemble a basic front door design. A user must pull the door open and closed to access the shower's interior. Shower wall enclosures simply need two to three hinges installed along their frames for attaching the swing door.

The main drawback to swing framed shower doors is the space needed. Even the narrowest swing door needs approximately 30 inches (76 cm) of space immediately in front of the shower area. Bathrooms with limited space should not install these shower door types; the area will immediately become cramped. Any impedance of the door, such as a cabinet or toilet, may damage the frame and glass construction if it is struck.

Bathrooms with ample space can have swing framed shower doors customized into almost any size. Luxuriously large showers may use a wider door frame for easier access, especially if the homeowner has older family members requiring the use of a wheelchair or walker. The aluminum frame can also be customized by using a thicker material type. The stronger frame can have extra handles attached to its assembly for supporting people while they bathe.

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      Woman with hand on her hip