Shower Door Q & A Section

Questions and Answers for Shower Doors & Enclosures

Do you do shower pans and tile work?

We get this question all the time.  We only do shower doors and shower enclosures.  This is our specialty and if you need someone to do this work that is reliable give us a call and we can refer you to a contractor we work with on a regular basis.

What types of Enclosures do you do?

We almost exclusively do semi and frameless doors and enclosures (Also called European).  We seldom do framed doors or enclosures any more.  Framed systems are about the same price as a semi system any more.  Back in April of 2011 the U.S. International Trade Commission instituted duties on aluminum extrusion from China thus driving up the price on the metal used in shower doors.  So the less aluminum used in the shower door, the less it is to make.  Frameless doors and enclosures are about 80% of the units we install these days.  Not only do they look better the price difference between these and semi-framed systems are nowhere as great as it was back in the day when we first started doing them.

What is the difference between a Semi-framed and Frameless or European shower doors?

Semi-framed enclosure has less metal in certain areas as opposed to a framed system.   Aluminum extrusions are still used for the structural support of the enclosure.  For example:  a semi-framed slider still uses metal sill, wall jambs, and header, but the sliding panels themselves do not have a frame around them.  See our examples here.

European Frameless Enclosures use the thicker (3/8” or ½”) glass for their structural support.  By doing this one gets a much cleaner look.  To make the enclosure safe we still are required to use mechanical fasteners to attach the glass to the tile.   Mostly we use a channel that is fastened to the tile with stainless steel screws and then the glass is glued into this channel.  Some customers like the look of a clamp and we do this as well, but this option runs a little more.

Is a shower door just a shower door?

Absolutely NOT:  Our team does the work from start to finish, we do not use subcontractors.

Measure and Fabrication:  We come out and actually do two measures on your opening.  We measure once with a self leveling Lazar to get the overall out conditions of the opening.   The second measure we do with levels which we use to  find out if there are any bows or high spots in the tile.  Once we have this information we calculate your glass sizes to the nearest 1/16 of an inch of your opening.  All the glass is cut to fit your opening exactly.  Being that we install all our doors we have an understanding of how it will be installed and thus know the best size for your particular opening.

Workman Ship:  Our installers have done thousands of these doors over the last 25 years.  Before they go out to install your enclosure they go over the job with the person who measured it.  And when they get back we again debrief the job.  It is our philosophy that we are always learning, as Stephen Covey says, “always be sharpening your saw.”

Hinges:  We use not the biggest manufactures’ hinge on the market we use best hinges you can find.  We even up grade these hinges with fiber gaskets and super strong screw plugs for mounting into tile that does not have a stud directly behind the hinge.  For most doors we do these hinges are over engineered.  The most used hinge on the market is rated for the average door size, a door measuring no bigger than 28” wide and not exceeding 80lbs.  Ours are rated at a 36” wide door and 100lbs.  We are so confident in these hinges we will fix or replace them for the lifetime of the shower door, AT NO CHARGE.

What is the standard height of a shower door?

Strangely enough the standard height of a shower doors comes more out of cost savings then actual function.  You see the stock length of extruded shower door aluminum is 12’ long.  If the manufacturer cuts it over 6’ they can only use that length for one shower door thus one finds that most framed shower doors are 6’ and under.  Also, if you notice in pricing that framed shower doors over 6’ tall are considerably more expensive.  So most standard height framed shower doors are around the 6’ range.

Unlike framed shower doors, frameless doors are not held to this stock length restriction.  We feel that the 72” height is an anachronism held over from the framed shower door days.  Generally our frameless enclosures and doors start at 76” tall and go up from there.   Ideally you want the enclosure to be as tall as the shower head.

As far as lining the top of the enclosure up with a grout line we advise that before you get your heart set on it check to make sure your grout lines are perfectly level.  No matter how good your tile guy is it is rare that the grout line will be level from one side of the opening to the other.  It may be off only by small amount, but you put something level next to it and it stands out.   If it is level then great (a lazar level will tell you if it is) then you can go this direction.  It is very important that shower doors and enclosure are level and plumb, if they are off they do not tend to work well.   Our shower doors are made to fit the out conditions of the tile.  For example, we cut the bottom of the glass to compensate for out of level curbs and bases and make the top of the enclosure level.  Being that the top of our glass is level, if it is too close to a grout line it can look out of whack.  Moving the top of the enclosure a few inches above or below the grout line and you will never notice this small out of level condition.

Do you work on shower doors and enclosures that you did not install?

No longer do we work on shower doors we did not install.  We get a few calls a week wanting us to fix shower doors that we did not install and the person who installed it refuses to help.  Sorry but we no longer have the time to fix these doors.

Common Problems we see:

Hinge Sage:  Symptoms of Hinge Sage is that the door rubs on the handle side at the curb or at the top side panel and also that the door has dropped so much that it will no longer open.  Depending on the door (framed or frameless) we see two common types of hinge sage.

  • Framed Doors:  We get calls almost daily about framed doors with continuous hinges that have failed.   The parts involved are a hinge jamb and hinge rail that interlock with each other down the length of the door.  What happens is that the two pieces separate starting at the top.  Once this happens the only way to fix it is to replace the door kit.  We do not, in most cases, have to replace the entire enclosure.  When we do replace the door kit we do so with a pivot door.  A pivot door will last probably 20 years of daily use.
  • Frameless Doors:  Door sage with frameless doors occurs when the door slips out of the top hinge.  This happen quite often with certain hinges.  We can usually re-adjust the door, but the problem is with the design of the hinge itself so the adjustment is not guaranteed.  The only way to guarantee this will not happen again in the future is to replace the door itself with a new door with our hinges.

Leaking:  When an enclosure leaks around the door this is usually a quick fix.  One only need replace the seals around the door.  We carry quite a few different seals in stock for these repairs.

Leaking around the silicone is another story.  If the enclosure has been there for a while and has soap scum on the metal and tile we cannot re-silicone it.  The silicone will not stick to these surfaces.  The only solution we offer is to replace the enclosure with a new one.

We do other repairs as well on a case by case basis.  Please call and tell us your problem and we will try and help you out.

How do I get water stains off my glass?

Depending on how bad they are it is probably permanent.  Untreated glass, depending on how hard your water is, will chemically react to the water’s contaminants to create spots, residues, stains and scale build-up.  Being that glass is up to 75% silica there is chemical bonding that takes place between the minerals in the water and the glass.

Should I worry about my shower glass getting spotted?

It all depends on the type of water you have.  Most city water is pretty soft and if you squiggly after showering you will be fine.  If you live in the mountains and are on well water, you probably want to get the glass treated.  Also, if in the past you have had problems with scaling you might consider a treatment.

What is soft water?

Soft water has a low concentration of calcium and magnesium ions. Areas throughout North America have soft ground water. Hard water is readily converted to soft water via water softeners. In a water softener, calcium and magnesium ions are removed and sodium or potassium are released in exchange.

What is hard water?

Hard water has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium and possibly iron. Symptoms of hard water are soap scum and hard water spots. Hard water calcium and magnesium react with soaps and chemicals to form an insoluble, sticky residue that is difficult to remove.

What is hard water with dissolved silica?

Hard water with dissolved silica is an extreme form of hard water. Silica is common in well water, but usually at low levels. High levels of silica can increase the rate of corrosion of glass and produce water spots that are difficult to clean. One indicator of this problem is spots on glass cleaned in the high heat /high humidity environment of your dishwasher.

Do you do a coating on the glass to prevent water stains?

Yes we do.  We carry one type that is a coating and it is called Easy Clean 10.  The other stain preventing treatment is not really a coating but a special kind of glass.  It’s called ShowerGuard Glass.

EasyClean 10 is applied after the glass is fabricated.  It is an ultra-thin transparent coating that completely adheres to the glass surface and provides protection that will repel both water and oil-based stains.  Similar to a non-stick fry pan, cleaning is made easier using only water and mild detergent, or a microfiber cloth.  No long is scrubbing with harsh toxic cleaners needed.  The superior protection also helps reduce the buildup of mold and harmful bacteria, promoting a germ-free environment.

ShowerGuard Glass is a different kind of glass altogether.  Its surface is protected during manufacturing through a high energy ion-beam deposition process.  This patented technology permanently seals the glass surface, fighting corrosion before it starts.  And unlike spray-on or wipe-on treatments that may eventually wear off, the “coating” on ShowerGuard glass is permanent.