Water-repellent and stain-resistant coating. Door opens smoothly and quietly. Well constructed.
Can be difficult to install.
Affordably priced yet beautifully designed. Comes in several glass and hardware options. Glass has a substantial feel - not flimsy. Not too difficult to install.
Rare reports of missing pieces upon delivery.
Heavy, high-quality door. Seals nicely. Clear glass gives a fresh, modern look. Opens easily without sticking.
Not easy to install on your own, so we recommend hiring a pro.
Features a simplistic, traditional framed look. Available in option of glass or hardware finish. Easy to install.
Doesn't feel quite as sturdy as others we considered. Some delivered with missing hardware.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
When you get tired of that grungy shower curtain and want to permanently upgrade your bathroom, start looking for a set of sliding shower doors. Shower doors that slide instead of swing open are space savers. They can provide more than one entry and exit point to your shower area, and are easy to clean.
A functional and long-lasting set does not have to cost and arm and a leg. Some can be installed easily by you, without the hassle and extra cost of professional installers. Others will best be handled and installed with help.
In either case, there are some features you should consider carefully before you purchase. We have looked at the best products on the market and have put together this shopping guide to help you understand what to look at in order to make the best purchase for your bath tub or shower.
Measuring your space
One of the most important things to do before you buy is to measure your shower carefully. Some of the higher-end frameless models are not very forgiving with walls that are not plumb. The main considerations are two sets of widths and height.
Measure two sets of widths. The first is the total width of the opening. The second is the width of the door.
Total width is the distance between your shower stall vertical sides. Common sizes for shower pans are 36”, 42”, 48”, and 60”. Your wall distance may be slightly larger or smaller than these standards, depending on your wall coverings. You must measure at the bottom and the top of the stall, since there are often variations with walls that are not plumb. To get the right size, choose the widest width. Frameless shower doors are harder to use on walls that are not straight.
Door width can vary on sliding shower doors. The door should have a maximum width of 36”. The smallest size made for a sliding shower door is 22”. Larger sizes create an opening that is easy to enter, but they will be heavier and may require extra panels.
Check the length of your shower or tub to make sure that whatever door width you choose will have enough space to fully open. A standard size on many shower openings is only 60” which would only be able to handle a 30” door. If you get the larger (36”) sliding sized door, it may create a smaller opening because it will not have enough space to fully slide open.
As you measure your shower enclosure opening, account only for the area covered by the shower stall, or your tile. You will install your sliding shower door within this space, not on the drywall next to it.
A standard height for most shower doors is six feet. Keep in mind that this includes the top-bar height. While the 72” height accommodates many people, if you are tall, most shower doors have a bar at the top of the shower that you will have to duck under to enter. There are extended height models available, but you will pay more money for them.
Remember: The height noted for sliding shower doors includes the top hardware, which knocks off a few inches on the total opening. If height is your concern, try a frameless model in a 79” height. Some shower doors can extend up to 96” — but these are a specialty item.
Frame or no frame
The issue of framing can be a little confusing. In general, there are three styles of describing the framing on sliding glass doors: framed, semi-frameless, and frameless.
Types of glass
Clear glass is a popular and updated choice. It provides a modern, high end look to your bathroom. Visually, a clear glass set of sliding glass shower doors will expand a small bathroom space, making it appear larger. The interior of your shower will also be brighter, which is a big advantage if you do not have an interior light for your shower area. The obvious disadvantage is privacy. You will not have any. If you share a bathroom, this may not be ideal. Clear glass also needs to be cleaned more often because water spots are more visible.
Frosted glass appears to have a kind of white finish. It is an effect achieved by either etching or sanding a piece of clear glass. The effect can partially block the view of the shower area, offering a degree of privacy. It comes in several patterns with varying levels of cloudy effect. It is not totally opaque. Shapes and often colors are usually visible vaguely through frosted glass. A frosted pane will cancel the visually expansive effect that clear glass offers.
Textured glass is a piece of glass that has be given a textured imprint. One of the most popular styles of textured glass for sliding shower doors is rain glass. Rain glass has a design that looks like rain is coming down on the glass. It is one of the most difficult textured glass patterns to see through because of the way the glass refracts light. It allows light to penetrate, but is is very difficult to make out figures behind the glass — providing an ideal amount of privacy for a shower.
Tinted glass has a touch of color to it. Popular choices for home shower products include copper and gray tones. These will diffuse the light, making it dark in your shower area. They provide a very modern look and are a good way to add privacy.
Glass thickness is dependent on the kind of framing you use for your shower doors. The most popular frameless models tend to have the thickest glass. The glass on those models needs to be thick to provide the stability to make up for not having a metal frame. It is common for frameless glass to be 3/8” to 1/2” thick. Framed glass models will have much thinner glass which is 1/4” or narrower.
The hardware should come with your purchase of a sliding shower door. Choices include the metal finish of the hardware and the included pieces of hardware.
Hardware commonly comes in bronze, brushed aluminum, and chrome. You can also find a finish in black, white, brass, or nickel. The best choice is to find a finish that matches your current sink and shower hardware. It is not always necessary to match the color of your doorknob or lighting fixtures, but it helps give the space a consistent look.
Included pieces of hardware
What pieces are included depends on your the frame style you choose. A framed sliding shower door set will have more metal. The color and finish on those doors will be more prominent in your bathroom. These will be a sturdy set of doors and will cost less. All of your shower doors should include the slide function. They vary a bit but are a very important piece. Your doors will be constructed specifically for this slide. Handles and hinges for frameless doors should also be included.
Between about $250 to $400 you can find a decent set of sliding shower doors. These doors will be framed or semi-framed. It should come with both a lower and upper sliding guide. These will be functional, but not the highest quality available. You should be able to install these yourself.
A nice mid-price point for a set of sliding shower doors is about $500 to $700. Most of these models will still be semi-frameless; however, you should be able to get a decent set of frameless doors at this price in standard sizes.
More stylized models will cost you more money. From about $800 to $1,000 you can find alternative shapes like curves and rectangles, more choices on size and lots of frameless options. These will be the best quality you can get without buying a customized product, which will easily cost over $1,000. You will be wise to pay for professional installation on these units. However, they will look beautiful and should last a long time.
In our shopping guide we focused on products created for a standard flat shower stall open on one side. If you are looking for an alternative shape there are also some great options. The VIGO rectangular shower stall comes in either a left or right base to really open up a compact shower area. It comes with rust-free stainless steel hardware. A curved sliding door from Aston Orbitus works well with a low profile base. It also saves space and helps you keep an open look in your bath. Sunny Shower offers a semi-frameless option that can provide the same space-saving efficiency at a much lower price. It is also a good choice to retrofit into an older home, because it is forgiving on walls that are out of plumb.
Q. Is a frameless shower door as safe as a framed shower door?
A. All shower doors should be made from tempered glass, which will resist breaks, chips, and cracks. While a frameless shower door could break, most often if installed improperly, they will not be likely to break into dangerously sized shards. Frameless shower doors are going to be safer on the mold front because they are easier to clean and do not have as many seals as framed models.
Q. What if my enclosure size isn’t standard?
A. While frameless sliding shower doors need to be precisely sized, framed models and semi-framed models offer a little wiggle room. Many of these models have a slight adjustability on the metal pieces which can help you get a tight fit on walls that are not plumb, or in situations where the shower stall is a non-standard size.
Q. Do both sides of a frameless sliding door move?
A. Not usually. While most framed and some semi-framed sliding shower doors have the ability to move doors in either direction, the frameless models most often have one a fixed side and a moving side. If you really want this feature, look for systems advertised with a “bypass” sliding door.