Pros and Cons of Frameless Shower Doors

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated June 18, 2021
Frameless shower in a an open modern bathroom
Martin Barraud/OJO Images via Getty Images

Frameless shower doors can enhance the overall aesthetic of your bathroom, but they will come with a higher price tag

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Taking a shower is your ultimate "me time" space—no chores, errands, or even emails can reach you there. Frameless shower doors upgrade your shower into a sleek, minimalistic space that offers a spa-like experience right at home. 

But before you gather up the design team, look over the common perks and downsides of this stylish shower enclosure.

What Exactly Are Frameless Shower Doors?

The majority of glass showers include a metal frame that wraps around both the outside of the shower and its individual glass panels. The panels either connect to a shower-tub combo or extend right to the floor to create a full shower stall.

Frameless doors cut out the metal altogether—the glass panels blend seamlessly into one another with only a handle or a bar to indicate how it opens. Like their framed counterparts, you'll spot frameless shower doors on both shower stalls and bathtub-shower combos.

The tranquil, clean look of the design blends smoothly with the rest of the bathroom. If you're looking to show off that new shower tile—this is a great way to do it.

Pros and Cons of Frameless Shower Doors

It's important to note that frameless doors require a larger investment than a traditional door. Check out these pros and cons before you make the final call.

Pro: Frameless shower doors are stylish

If you're dreaming up a minimalist, streamlined bathroom style, frameless shower doors might be for you. There are no metal and rubber frames interrupting the sleek line of the shower. In some designs, frameless doors make the shower look like a direct extension of the rest of the room. From the outside, you can see every small architectural detail inside your stall.

Cons: They cost more than framed glass doors

Frameless shower door installation costs between $300 and $3,300 for labor and materials. Custom options—the most common for frameless doors—run in the higher end of this price range. The design requires thicker glass, tougher hardware, and a specialist's eye to make sure it is properly installed.

For comparison, the installation and materials costs of new framed shower doors cost between $200 and $500. Additionally, if you are interested in a shower glass coating, it usually adds another 30% to the overall cost for the shower door.

Pros: You have your pick of frameless shower door styles

Since most frameless doors require custom work to fit your unique bathroom, you'll have more flexibility to make the look your own. You can choose from a sliding or a hinged door, for example. You can also narrow down your sliding track and handle hardware—opting for a modern or industrial look.

Choose a curved frameless glass door for corner showers to save space and simplify your bathroom's overall layout.

Con: You could end up with leaks

Do you know those rubber seals that wrap around your framed shower doors? Well, they do serve an important purpose when it comes to leakage.

Even the smallest incorrect measurement of your frameless doors could lead to water seeping through—or splashing through—the seams of your shower. Since no one wants to deal with the headache of water damage, it's crucial to hire a local shower installer with great reviews and proven experience with this design.

Pro: Frameless shower doors have less mold

Framed shower doors typically end up with that one impossible-to-clean spot beneath the sliding track. This spot is where mold and mildew build up over time.

Frameless options don't typically have this issue. Without the large metal bar in the way, it is much easier to keep the glass clean and mildew-free—even if you skip a few deep-cleaning days.

Con: The glass can break and shatter

Try not to give up on frameless shower doors when you read this—but there have been very rare instances of the glass shattering. However, it's not something you need to worry about while you shampoo. It only occurs when there are tiny chips or cracks in the glass or what is known as a nickel sulfide inclusion, which occurs during manufacturing.

Glass professionals temper the doors so that if they do break, they shatter into very small pieces that cause less harm to anyone nearby. Again, this is very rare, but it's important to note.

Pro: Frameless shower doors upgrade your shower experience

With more light flooding into your shower, it's easier to read the shampoo bottle, find the soap, and clean off the tiles. Natural light also opens up the room, making this a great pick for a smaller space.

Also, if you're ever nicked your shin on the track of a framed sliding door, you know how important the right shower design can be.

When you're embarking on a bathroom design overhaul, you have your pick of fixtures and styles for each area of the room. Adding frameless shower doors blends the shower and tub space with the rest of the room, highlighting more of your excellent design choices.

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