Glass Shower and Bathtub Enclosures- selecting glass

Visit a showroom before ordering a shower or bathtub enclosure and ask to see the types of glass in different thicknesses.

You'll save a lot of time and avoid the aggravation of ending up with "clear glass" that has a green tint to it if you use our checklist.

Frameless ultraclear shower enclosure

Before choosing your shower and bathtub enclosures, we recommend that you think about the following:

  1. Whether it's for a shower or bathtub,
  2. In the case of tubs, consider who's going to be using it- kids, elderly, or pets,
  3. The type of enclosure- you can get frameless (the most expensive) or framed top or just plane, which come with sliding doors or pivot doors,
  4. Thickness of the glass- usually 3/8, 1/2 and 3/4 inch glass
  5. The color or type of glass- most companies just sell 'clear glass" and don't bother to show you the difference, and finally
  6. The color of your ceramic tiles or marble in the enclosure.

OK, let's tackle these one by one. If you are considering an enclosure for the shower, consider the size of the room. Usually a frameless shower enclosure (free of metal frames) will provide a clean and airy look like the one on the left.

If you go with a framed model, you'll have two choices:

frameless shower enclosure with ultra clear glass

  • Frameless sliding doors like the one to the left (click it to enlarge) or Framed doors.

Make sure you specify the finish of the metal framing and handles and match then to your bathroom fixtures. Don't mix gold fixtures with chrome or nickel frames. Personally, we like the frameless enclosure for a master bathroom especially if the bathroom is relatively small. Framed models with the top frame for other bathroom showers or tubs.

Hall bathroom with frameless doorsIf you have a tub and are going to be bathing young children, the last thing you need is a tub enclosure, It will just get in the way. Better to wait until the kids are older and just use a shower curtain for now. If you are going to be bathing your dogs and pets on a regular basis, then totally forget the tub enclosure. It will just get in the way. If the elderly are going to be using the bathtub, consider whether the enclosure will be just another obstacle.

Now for the thickness of the glass. In the Washington DC metro area, most shower enclosure companies don't mention the differences between "clear glass" and "ultra clear." Be sure that you do. The companies usually do mention it to interior designers though. We suspect that most don't bring it up to homeowners because the ultra clear costs about 25 percent more and most people don't complain about the "clear glass" in glass that is thinner.

We think that 3/8 or 1/2 inches is fine for most showers and bathtub enclosures. If are going to select a frameless enclosure, you probably will be limited to 3/4 inch. Keep in mind that two things are happening when you specify or have to get thicker glass-- the price is going up and the color of that "clear glass" is getting noticeably greener. If like us, you are doing a white bathroom with blue border, you need to specify "ultra clear." To do otherwise means that your glass will have a very noticeable green tint to it.

If you can't decide or think there's no difference between "ultra clear" and "clear glass", take a look at our friendly bear courtesy of the people who make STARPHIRE® ULTRA CLEAR GLASS.

Ultra Clear Bear showing clear glass and ultraclear glass

The price of the enclosure goes up considerably with ultra clear. Nevertheless, the industry standard "clear glass," has a green tint which is very noticeable when the glass is 3/4 inches thick. Most master bathrooms cost between $10,000 and $20,000+ depending on what you materials you are installing in them. So make sure that the glass you select does not totally undermine the entire bathroom project.

Better yet, go to your installer and obtain a sample of both and put them in your bathroom. Make sure they are the same thickness. You'll then be able to determine if you want to pay more for that ultraclear.