Framed vs. Frameless Shower Doors: What Are the Main Pros and Cons to Consider?

Showers form focal points of many modern bathrooms, both functionally and aesthetically. That’s why it’s important for homeowners to give careful consideration to design. Both framed and frameless shower doors offer a number of practical and stylistic benefits over curtains, but there are a few major differences between them that homeowners need to know about. Read on to find out about the major attributes of each door style to make a more informed decision.

Framed vs. Frameless Shower Doors, home improvement, home renovation, bathroom, shower door, lifestyle
Framed vs. Frameless Shower Doors: What Are the Main Pros and Cons to Consider?
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1. Materials

Both framed and frameless shower doors are made out of tempered glass. Framed doors typically feature thinner glass, though, and have frames made out of powder-coated aluminum. The frames may be either textured or smooth, and the glass can be either clear or opaque. Either way, the glass will be sealed into the frame to add an extra level of leak protection.

Frameless doors are typically manufactured using thicker panes of glass to make up for the fact that they don’t have any extra support. Instead of aluminum frames, they feature clips, hinges, and door pulls that are set directly into the glass. Some models also have rubber sweeps at the bottom designed to prevent leaks. Most bathroom remodelers can install both types of shower doors.

2. Style

The primary stylistic difference between framed and frameless shower doors is in their configuration. Framed doors are more limiting in terms of shower enclosure style and design. They’re typically designed as sliding doors, while frameless doors usually hinge outward.

Frameless doors are easier to customize to match the bathroom’s existing style. They can be used to create three-wall enclosures and knee walls for a minimalist look or to install stationary panels that contain the water without creating an unnecessary barrier to entering the shower. Unlike traditional framed shower doors, frameless doors cannot be installed as sliding doors.

3. Ease of Installation

Both framed and frameless shower doors should be installed by professionals. The installation process for frameless doors tends to be more labor-intensive, though, and it requires more specialized skill to ensure that the door is perfectly level. Framed doors are easier to install since they’re lighter. They can usually be installed in just one to two hours, while frameless doors take a minimum of three to four hours to install. This can affect the cost of labor associated with installing a new shower door.

4. Leaks

Both framed and frameless shower doors are designed to prevent water leaks, but their seals may fail over time. As a general rule, framed doors feature heavier barriers to water penetration, so they are less prone to leaks. Frameless shower doors may require periodic gasket replacements to keep water from escaping the shower enclosure. Either type of shower door can last two to three decades without developing leaks if properly maintained.

5. Maintenance

Framed shower doors require more maintenance since the tracks at the top and bottom of the door are prone to collecting water. This can corrode the metal and create a perfect environment for mold and mildew growth that takes extra work to keep in check. Frameless doors won’t corrode and they aren’t prone to mold and mildew.

Choosing the right type of shower door can be tough. As a general rule, homeowners with more traditional bathroom designs usually prefer framed doors, while those who live in thoroughly contemporary homes prefer frameless styles. When in doubt, ask a bathroom remodeling expert for advice about what type of door to choose.

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