Brownstone Boys: Keep It Glassy With Shower and Tub Enclosures

Our shower glass with black matte clips and door handle

Editor’s note: Welcome to the 46th installment of Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary. We’re excited to publish their tale of buying and renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at www.thebrownstoneboys.com.

If you are building a new bathroom, especially if you have a nice walk-in shower, you will probably want to have a glass enclosure. Ours was just installed and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it. So we thought we would talk a bit about the process, options and pricing.

A glass enclosure to a shower or tub will instantly transform the way your bathroom looks. It will create a nice open and airy feel, provide for a comfortable if not luxurious experience, and show off the beautiful tile or stone you spent so much time picking out.

So here are some options and tips we learned along the way.

Frame or Frameless
If you have ever wondered what makes the glass in one bathroom look modern and attractive and another not so much, it might be the lack of a frame around it. It makes a big difference in creating an open and modern space.

Having the frame around the glass is going to add strength. The frameless glass will be fixed to the wall and floor, so the corner there will be very sturdy. The opposite corner at the top will be floating pretty far from where the glass is fixed so it will have some play. It’s possible, though unlikely, that a hard fall against it can take the whole thing down. So it’s just something to be aware of, but mostly likely not something to be concerned about. There are also semi-frameless options that improve the look, but still add strength.

One way to get a lot of strength and still keep a modern look is with a grid enclosure. They have a bit of an industrial feel and could really fit in nicely in a modern loft type space. Or anywhere, if that is the look you’re going for.

Clips or Channels
The way your glass is fixed to the wall can also make a difference in the finished product. You can have two or three clips securing it to the wall, or the glass can sit in one long channel that is fixed to the wall. We feel like we see more clips these days but we also like the clean look of the channel.

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Hinged shower doors. Photo by Terry Magallanes

Doors
There are several options when it comes to the doors. The door not only adds to the look that you’re going for but has some functional implications as well. Here are some of the options.

Hinged Door
Your shower glass will consist of one or more fixed panels and a door. The door can be hinged to a fixed glass panel or to the wall. It provides a modern look and easy access in and out of the shower. The shower door has to swing out (to provide access in case someone falls inside the shower) so you will get some drips from the door on the floor when it opens. You also need to make sure you have space for the door to swing, which is always a consideration in New York.

Sliding Door(s)
You can have double or single sliding doors. This can be good if you want access from multiple sides or if you don’t have the space for a door to swing out. It also keeps everything pretty tidy with no drips on the floor. It sometimes has connotations of older sliding shower doors and will be framed since the doors will need a track or mechanism to slide on.

shower

Starphire Glass is a popular option with showers because of the clear look. Photo via Art Laminated Glass

Bi-Fold Door
It’s not the most popular option but you can also have a bi-fold door on your shower. It might be useful if you don’t have a lot of room for a full swing door, but you still want to go frameless.

Splash Panel
You could even go doorless! A splash panel is a single pane of glass that will keep (most of) the water in the shower but the entrance will be open. It creates an even greater open and airy feel. The drawback might be that depending on the configuration of the shower and glass you could end up with a few splashes outside.

Glass Options
Now that you have decided what the configuration and door access will be, you have lots of options on the glass itself. There are options to include textured, opaque or specialty glass. No doubt the vast majority of us will go with a clear glass, but you even have a couple of options there. Plain clear glass is just great for the most of us, but if you want to upgrade you can go with Starphire glass. Sometimes called low-iron glass because it contains only 10 percent of the iron regular glass contains, Starphire is ultra clear and brilliant in a way regular glass is not. During the manufacturing process, the green hue normally visible at the edges is removed.

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Admiring our freshly installed shower glass

Process and Pricing
Once your shower or tub has tile and/or stone installed you can have a shower glass company come out to measure and walk you through your options. We knew exactly what we wanted, so the company we used came by for measurements and only seven or eight days later the glass was installed. It is spot-on what we wanted.

Pricing will vary depending on your choices, but we would recommend budgeting around $2,000 to $3,000 for shower glass.

We went with a frameless shower glass in regular clear glass. We did a hinged door with one fixed panel of glass. We have clips securing the glass to the tile and a handle in a matte black finish. Very happy boys!

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