Framed vs. Frameless Shower Doors: Comparisons

Showers doors are a key part of your bathroom since having a new shower enclose can highly elevate your bathroom’s looks. This raises the property value while still helping showcase your shower space and increase its functionality as it gives your bathroom a more complete look and feel. With a variety of designs to choose from in the market, it is best to first decide whether you are going to get a framed or frameless glass shower door.

Framed shower doors are cheaper, easier to install, thinner, and better at water spill prevention than frameless shower ones. However, frameless ones look better, are easier to clean, and rust less than framed ones. They both last from 20-30 years, can break when impacted, and are in many varieties.

Although both the framed and frameless shower does are safe and offer versatility in designs, they both have a number of setbacks you have to consider before making a choice. To help you make that decision, I have put together a list of the differences, merits, and demerits for the shower doors. Once you’ve selected the type and design best suited for your bathroom, have your local glass door expert install and transform your bathroom as this is something you cannot do on your own.  

Framed vs. Frameless Shower Doors: Comparisons

Differences between framed and frameless shower doors

The differences between framed and frameless shower doors include the following:

Framed shower doors Frameless shower doors 
Costs about $500 to buy and install. Costs about $1000 to buy and install. 
Takes about 2 hours to install.  Takes about 4 hours to install.  
Medium thickness tampered glass.  Thick tampered glass.  
Good aesthetic value.  Better aesthetic value. 
Best water spill prevention. Less water spill prevention. 
Harder to keep clean due to the frame. Easy to clean. 
Can rust in the frame, rail and hinges. May only rust in the hinges. 
Lasts for 20 to 30 years. Lasts for 20 to 30 years. 

1. Cost

The cost of a shower typically varies according to design requirements, dimensions, and the size you want not forgetting customization as well. A standard-sized framed shower door costs about $500 for both the door and installation services while a frameless shower door costs about $1000 for both. The frameless shower door is rather costly as compared to the framed shower door. Framed shower doors take about 2 hours to install while the frameless ones take about 4 hours.

2. Composition

Although both materials are usually made up of tempered glass, the framed glass is made up of thinner sheets of glass due to the additional metal support. Frameless shower doors are made up of thicker glass panes since there is no extra support as only hinges and clips are used to keep them in place.

3. Functionality

When it comes to functionality, the frameless shower door has some constraints. Typically, framed shower doors may be installed as sliding doors. Frameless doors, on the other hand, usually come as swinging doors or fixed shower panels as hinges are used to hold them in place. Both types of doors, however, can be hinged, pivot, folding, sliding or bypass doors.

4. Aesthetic value

Although the glass itself has the ability to enhance any space, both types of shower doors deliver exquisite visual appeal. The frameless shower door is known to give off a classier design and refined posh look to the interior as it radiates elegance making the bathroom look wider and brighter. For this reason, the frameless shower door is rather popular for persons trying to enhance small bathrooms.

5. Door seals

Framed door seals tend to be more resistant to water leaks as they have metal frames that last longer as compared to frameless shower doors made of plastic or rubber seals. Even though plastic seals don’t offer longevity, the good news is that they can be easily replaced after wearing out.

6. Maintenance, cleaning, and services

When it comes to cleaning and maintaining shower doors, the frameless shower is easier to clean as all you need is a clean cloth to get rid of the dirt. Framed shower doors are harder to clean as the metal frames catch dirt and moisture that can lead to mold growth. They are also prone to corrosion and maintenance can be a bit hard. Both can be cleaned either with WD-40 or white vinegar.

Another point to note is that frameless glass shower doors can be treated with Diamon Fusion and Ultra Lux to prevent the formation of water spots while few framed glass shower doors have any treatment. 

Both framed and frameless shower doors require caulking and silicone seals to keep the water from spilling outside the shower. You can use the same caulk you use when installing a shower pan for consistency.

7. Lifespan

Framed shower doors have a shorter lifespan due to damage risks from the frames as they corrode over time thus damaging the door. Frameless shower doors last longer and, if of the best quality and properly maintained, can last up to 20 to 30 years.

Similarities between framed and frameless shower doors

While they may have quite a number of differences in their making, design, and functionality, here are a number of similarities between the framed and frameless shower doors:

1. Can break when impacted

Both the framed and frameless shower doors are made up of tempered glass and can only break due to hard impacts. Even so, the tampered glass shatters into small harmless pieces.

2. Available in many varieties

Both shower doors are available in a variety of styles and designs, allowing you to choose from a broad spectrum of glass designs. Whether you prefer high privacy with frosted glass to a tinted or highly transparent design, either can be found in both variations of shower doors.

Framed glass shower doors

What is a framed shower glass? A framed glass shower is a sturdy tempered glass with a metal enclosure this is a heavy-duty aluminum frame around the interior of its edges. If you‘re planning on renovating your bathroom, a framed shower door is a great option especially as an upgrade from a shower curtain as they are cleaner and more pleasing. Generally, shower doors are better than shower curtains.

Pros

  • Provide more stability: The aluminum frame around the glass door helps enhance the glass’s stability and steady the door reducing its risk of shattering.
  • It is easier to install: Most companies provide a DIY kit along with the door making it easy for self-installation as all you need is to hang them in place. 
  • Keeps water in: Framed shower doors are less likely to leak as they have a track that traps water, a layer of caulk and metal to prevent excess waters from getting out. Most framed shower doors have a series of magnets, sweeps and seals to keep the water in.
  • Affordable: When it comes to glass doors, the framed one costs significantly less to buy and about 10 to 15% less to have installed. They also use thinner glass making the material used to make it significantly cheaper.
  • Diversity in design: They come in quite a variety of designs to select from according to your preference.

Cons

  • Hard to maintain: Framed shower doors are harder to clean as the metal frames catch dirt and moistures that can lead to mold growth. They are also prone to corrosion and maintenance can be a bit hard.
  • Limited range of motion: Most of them only open outwards which is limiting as compared to a door that opens both ends which significantly reduces the risk of harm.
  • Outdated design: With most bathrooms favoring frameless shower doors, framed ones look more and more outdated.

With these framed glass shower doors pros and cons, it’s easy to make a decision on whether you need one or not.

Frameless glass shower doors  

A frameless shower door is a panel of sturdy tempered glass that does not need a metal enclosure or support to function. It is also known as the seamless glass shower door and often has a clean and modern experience making it popular among most homeowners. It is the most stylish option at the moment.

Pros

  • Diversity in design: They are available in plenty of design options to select from since they come in several styles, shapes, sizes, and configurations.
  • Wide range of motion: The hinges of your frameless shower door swing in both directions allowing you to open from any direction.
  • Easy to maintain: Since they lack a frame, cleaning them is a lot easier. They carry less amounts of debris from use. It is easier to have a part of a frameless door replaced as compared to other types in case of damage. They also have fewer parts to worry about in general.
  • Emphasize the design features: They make your bathroom feel more spacious and aerated.  

Cons

  • Cost: Buying and installing a frameless door is rather costly due to the type of material used to make it and the complex method of installation.
  • Stability: It is not as stable since it is made up of thick, unprotected glass.
  • Complex installation: A properly installed frameless glass door maintains a clean look and the safety of the bathroom. The installation of your door is dependent on your shower type. Professional contractors are needed to help with the installation process which includes drilling tiles.
  • Leaks more: Given that frameless doors aren’t put in a frame or sliding rail, they leave some space between them through which water can escape.

These frameless glass shower doors pros and cons show that it’s one of the best shower doors especially in terms of the maintenance. When with metal enclosures on any part of the shower door, frameless shower doors become semi-frameless.

Semi-frameless shower doors  

A semi-frameless shower door is a sturdy piece of glass that has framing on each side of the larger piece, although not around the door panel. Depending on the model of the door you want, the panel may or may not have a complete frame. This acts as a middle ground between both types of shower doors that come in handy for many different bathroom designs due to its visual appeal, cost, and design flexibility. 

Pros

  • This is the perfect combination of the frameless or framed shower door it gives your bathroom a spacious feel while still giving you the stability of your door.

Cons

  • Complexity: It is rather difficult to install as it needs hinges to be set in place correctly. It is easier to have a contractor do this.
  • Cost: It tends to be a bit costly due to the materials used.

Semi-frameless shower doors’ pros and cons make them special-case shower doors given their designs.

What is the best shower door: framed or frameless?

Selecting the most suitable shower door between framed versus frameless ones is not easy as there is no “best” shower enclosure. Each of the three shower doors has merits and demerits. These features apply differently to each person depending on the nature, cost, size, and design of the bathroom they prefer. That being said, there are three main considerations when choosing your shower door: the look you want to achieve, functionality, and the budget you are working with.

According to the pros, cons, and functionality, the frameless shower door is the most suitable due to its flexibility but can be quite costly. You can also go for the hybrid or semi-frameless shower door which offers the best of both worlds at a more affordable price.

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