How To Choose Shower And Bathtub Doors

Have you ever been taking a shower and had the cold curtain hit your skin? It doesn't make sense that in a hot, steamy shower, that darn curtain gets so impressively chilly. How about another question? If you never had to deal with that again, would you? The answer is obvious. Of course, you would.

Shower and bathtub doors have been around for a long time. But they are still playing second fiddle to a simple plastic shower curtain. Why? Because shower curtains have an endless selection of patterns, pictures and other decorative options, and shower doors don't. But these days, they have other possibilities.

Table of Contents Hide

What types of frames do shower and bathtub doors come with?

These lovely glass gems, that had no other purpose than to keep your shower and bath water from getting all over the place, have taken a much needed decorative turn. They still only come in clear, frosted, or a combination of the two, but frames have spawned many new possibilities.


Around the door or double doors is a metal frame that is fitted to the opening of the shower space. This is the most common model a person might see, because they are the original shower and bathtub door concept.

It is designed to prevent leaks, and does that job well. Most of these are naturally a brushed nickel color, and will go with any gray or silver hardware already in, or soon to be added, to the bathroom. White, black, or gray colored towels will work well against this option. A very traditional look.

The framing does a great job of providing structural integrity, so the glass can be thinner than with other framing options, so the unit is altogether less expensive.

Single Framed Shower Door
Single Sliding Framed Bathtub Door
Metal Framed Shower and Bathtub Door
Black Industrial Single Framed Shower Door
Black Double Framed Shower Door
Simple Metal Framed Shower Door


Only one of two sides of the shower entryway have frame components attached. They also are designed to keep the water inside the shower or bathtub area. As shower doors evolve, the semi-frameless look is growing in popularity. It has the efficiency of a fully framed doorway, without all the excess metal, which offers a wider range of decorative pairing. A modern, aesthetically pleasing look with a traditional feel.

The glass in semi-frameless options may not need to be as thick as in frameless shower door but will still need to be thicker than framed glass.

Double Sliding Semi Frameless Shower Door
Elegant Double Semi Frameless Shower Door
Semi Frameless Bathtub Door with Towel Bar
Modern Semi Frameless Bathtub Door
Single Sliding Semi Frameless Bathtub Door
Single Sliding Semi Frameless Shower Door


Set in hinges, this option has no frame, just a latch to keep the door closed, or a free swinging option that returns to a magnetic latch setting.  Although, if the door doesn't sit flush to the tile or footer, it may lead to a leak if water is sprayed directly at the door.

A completely contemporary choice, any decorative style will work in a bathroom with this shower or bathtub door, as the lack of a frame removes the obstacle inherent in picking aesthetic choices to suit. Only the hinged side shows the metal, and often, that can be manipulated with the buyer's taste. Wherever your creative eye takes you when picking your color and wood scheme, a frameless shower or bathtub door will compliment it.

For maximum structural integrity, the glass in frameless shower doors must be considerably thicker than in the other two options.

Single Sliding Frameless Shower Door
Clear Tempered Glass Frameless Shower Door
Stainless Steal Frameless Shower Door
Frameless Hinged Bathtub Door
Frameless Hinged Bathtub Door with Towel Bar
Double Glass Frameless Bathtub Door

How to select hardware for shower and bathtub doors?

Not all hardware options can be used with every type of shower or bathtub door. Here are some aesthetically pleasing options:

  • Brass and gold: Available in traditional, brushed or antique, its shiny gold color can brighten a bathroom and give it a provocative undertone. Paired with red towels, brass inspires the fantasy of walking the decks of a great, old ship.

  • Chrome: In standard, polished or satin chrome, its reflective nature can brighten any room. Black, or dark greens, blues and reds, go well with chrome hardware.

  • Bronze: Regular bronze, brushed bronze or oil-rubbed bronze, this lovely tint can fit well with a wood themed bathroom setting. A medium wood works best, like a walnut or cherry. If the wood is too dark, the space will feel smaller.

  • Stainless steel and silver: The standard stainless steel, along with brushed, and polished can go with almost any bathroom decor. SIlver, much like chrome, pairs best with dark colors.

  • Black and white: Either together or seperate, these monochromatic favorites go well with an equally monochromatic decorating choice. Black towels with white hardware, and vise versa.

  • Nickel: Whether it be brushed, satin or polished, it's basically gray, which is the standard frame color in a prefab shower or bathtub door. Nickel works with a host of aesthetic choices, but works well with muted tones, like tan, olive drab, and sage.

Gold Hardware Single Sliding Shower Door
Chrome Hardware Double Shower and Bathtub Door
Bronze Hardware Shower Door
Black Hardware Double Bathtub Door
Single Sliding Stainless Steel Shower Door
Nickel Hardware Frameless Shower Door

How do shower and bathtub doors open?

If you already have a shower or bathtub door, some of these will work with your current frame, or lack thereof. If you wish to get a shower door, choosing how you want to enter the shower space is a big part of the selection criteria.

  • Hinged: Set on a large hinge and opens by swinging in one direction. Sometimes reversible.

  • Pivot: Swings in and out of the shower. Offers greater flexibility.

  • Sliding: Set on tracks, it slides along a frame guide. Easy to remove.

  • Double Sliding: Also on track guides, this is designed for large showers. Both sides slide.

  • Fixed: Only one half of the shower has a glass partition that doesn't move. The other half of the shower is open.

  • Folding: A multi-sectional door, with hinge points set in frame tracks, that folds when opened. Similar to an ornamental japanese screen.

Once you have picked your hardware, how you want the shower or bathtub door to open and what, if any, frame you want, now it's time to pick your glass.

How to choose the right type of shower door glass?

Choosing the right glass is very personal, and can speak to a particular level of intimacy. Clear glass exposes you to the room. Frosted glass is protective. Clear glass lets you see who is in the bathroom with you, if you wish to have a mid shower conversation. Frosted, not so much.

Making this choice speaks to your own level of privacy and security, even if you live alone. If you are the type of person who locks the bathroom door, then frosted is the way to go. Although, if you are a little wilder, a little free, and have very little personal shame, go clear, all the way.

Shower and bathtub glass is designed to maximize safety. In the old days, it was just a simple pane of window glass, but these days, tempered safety glass is all the rage. It doesn't shatter like laminated glass, so if you fall into it, the likelihood of injury is slim, save a few bruises. And it's double paned, so it offers an extra layer of protection.

PRO Tip: Different framing options call for different glass thickness. Experts recommend that the minimum thickness of the shower glass door should be 3/8". The general rule of thumb is that the sturdier the frame, the thinner the glass can be.

Why should I get a shower or bathtub door?

Beyond the cold shower curtain argument and the decor enhancement customizations, glass shower and bathtub doors have the luxury of being easy to clean.

Shower curtains are made of an outer, thinner vinyl sheet, and a thicker, inner sheet, designed to be pretty on the outside, and functional on the inside. The problem with this bi-partisan concept, is it's hard to clean both thoroughly. If regular cleaning isn't done, just like dirty shower tiles, mildew will form and make the curtain smell.

Glass shower and bathtub doors on the other hand are easy to clean, and there's even an attachment that can connect to your shower head, that sprays a cleaning agent on the shower's interior, including the doors, on programmable intervals If you do not possess this neat little tool, some antibacterial window cleaner and a soft, scour pad will clean the door and get those hard to reach areas near the frame, if there is a frame. Then, just wipe it down with a paper towel.