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Shower Doors: DIY Buying Guide

Filed Under: Kitchen & Bath, Products & Materials

In the market for new shower doors? Here's everything you need to know, from door styles to ease of installation.

Baco shower doors(Left) Basco's Classic swinging, frameless shower door. (Right) Basco's Infinity fully framed sliding shower doors. Photo: Basco (2)

Shower doors are an important consideration in your bathroom. Besides comfort and reliability, you want a solid product; something that keeps the water in the shower and not on the floor. Another consideration? Whether or not you're installing them yourself.

Now, the most economical way to keep water in the shower, of course, is to use a simple shower curtain. A tension rod, liner, shower rings and curtain will run you about $60, and you won't even break a sweat. The downside, though, is that water can easily escape to the floor, promoting mold growth and possibly leaking to the ceiling below. Glass shower doors are a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing way to water-seal your shower.

Home improvement stores offer DIY kits; with some careful measurements -- plus a drill, silicon, and a hacksaw, you can install them yourself. It's most important to choose a door (or doors) that fit your shower's opening, so take careful measurements before you shop. If you're installing shower doors over a tub, you're in luck: tub sizes are pretty standard, and it's easy to find shower doors to accommodate them.

shower enclosureShower enclosures -- like this Thinline model from Basco -- can drive up the price of your shower doors. Photo: Basco

There are many shower door styles on the market. Some shower doors swing out; others slide on tracks. Then there are style considerations too: glass design and thickness, hardware, and track finishes.

Door style will definitely affect the price range for a DIY installation -- it can be anywhere from $100 to $700. Additional factors -- say, your shower door opening is an odd (non-standard) size or you want an actual full enclosure of glass -- will drive up the price further. If luxury is your priority, consider having a custom shower door and/or enclosure built.

We asked a representative for Basco, a leading supplier of stock and custom shower enclosures, 'What's the most important factor when picking out a shower glass door and/or enclosure?'

"Understand the limitations of your existing shower space in terms of mobility, door swing and obstructions," said the rep, who offers a variety of configurations to address these issues, such as rolling doors, French doors and reversible swing doors. "Then determine the design of the product you are interested in. Consider [whether] you prefer an enclosure that is completely framed in aluminum, has a semi-frameless appearance, or [has] a more high-end all-glass frameless style".

Next, the rep recommends selecting the hardware style that best complements your bathroom's style. A good rule of thumb is to match your shower door hardware to the existing hardware in the room: faucets, handles, etc. Finally, select the glass pattern that suits your personal taste or desire for privacy (see a few of Basco popular glass options below).

shower door, glassA few of the glass styles offered by shower door manufacturer Basco. Photo: Basco

We asked the representative for Basco whether a custom shower glass system is a DIY project. "The level of complexity varies with shower enclosures. The framed units are typically more installation-friendly, because the offer more adjustment. As you move up the continuum to frameless doors, the installation becomes more difficult."

Though it might be difficult as a DIY project, there are ways to save money, says our Basco rep. "Utilize professional installation and measurement resources whenever possible. Shower doors are built off of the measurements of the space, including wall and floor conditions -- such as 'out of plumb' or 'out of level.' If improper measurements are submitted and the door is produced to those measurements, it will most likely not fit and will be the customer's responsibility. Also, select an installer that has been factory-trained and certified to insure correct installation and avoid future issues and service calls".

Have you recently bought or installed shower doors? What advice would you give a first-time buyer?


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