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What Is Tempered Shower Glass?

Tempered shower glass is safety glass and by law, is the only type of glass permitted for bathroom shower installations. It's called safety glass because tempered glass will never break into sharp, jagged edges. Instead, when broken, tempered glass shatters into small oval pebbles.

Tempered glass is manufactured from normal glass through a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling. This makes the tempered glass four to five times stronger than standard glass, giving it a highly-prized brittle quality.

Glass tempering is the final step in the glass fabrication process. After is been tempered, your frameless shower is ready for installation.

What is the difference between a framed and frameless shower?

A frameless shower gives home owners an all-glass look for their bathroom enclosure. It is considered a high-end design upgrade that opens up one's bathroom space and accents various style preferences from conventional elegance to minimalist chic. It just depends on how the rest of the bathroom is accessorized. Framed glass showers can look just as elegant, and the finish on the frames can be used to accent a bathroom and draw attention to the shower structure itself.

In addition to the visible differences of frameless and framed showers, there are also key construction differences. And here's where the factors that influence price come into play:

Frameless showers require more glass fabrication. Greater attention to detail and craftsmanship go into building a tight-fitting, luxury frameless shower.

Thinner glass in framed showers is wrapped in aluminum casing to reinforce the glass. The aluminum frame fastens to another frame, a wall, shower header or ceiling.

Architectural-quality glass can be used for frameless shower construction. For structural integrity, frameless showers in general require stronger building blocks than framed showers. So thicker glass is a requirement, but architectural glass is a premium choice only used for frameless showers.

Frameless glass showers are easier to clean than framed glass showers. There is more smooth surface space.

Which glass styles can I choose for a frameless shower door?

Glass is no longer just glass. Thanks to designer trends, homeowners now have a variety of glass styles and tints to choose from. Available glass styles differ according to glass thickness. Here are the standard styles we offer for each:

Glass Styles for 1/2-Inch Glass:

  • Clear Glass: Most common style, will carry a slight green tint inherent to all clear glass.
  • Low-Iron Glass: Provides the clearest transparency to show true tile color. (Starphire)
  • Frosted Glass: Partially opaque glass from acid-etching or sandblasting; apply to entire glass or strips.

Glass Styles for 3/8-Inch Glass:

  • Clear Glass: Most common style, will carry a slight green tint inherent to all clear glass.
  • Low-Iron Glass: Provides the clearest transparency to show true tile color. (Starphire, and Ultra White with ShowerGuard)
  • Frosted Glass:Partially opaque glass from acid-etching or sandblasting; apply to entire glass or strips.
  • Rain Glass: One sophisticated pattern to add texture and privacy to your shower. Pre-treated patterns run throughout each glass panel.

frameless shower glass and 1/2-inch thick frameless shower glass?

In short, glass thickness determines the structural strength of your shower enclosure. Here is a quick look at both options:

3/8-Inch Heavy Shower Glass
Three-eighth-inch thick glass is the smallest thickness size that can be used in frameless showers to assure sound, quality construction. It's also more budget-friendly than half-inch glass.

1/2-Inch Heavy Shower Glass
Premium half-inch thick glass offers the greatest structural integrity and durability. It's the same kind of glass used for storefronts. It not only looks more impressive but also has a more substantial feel.

What's the difference between acid-etched glass and sandblasted glass?

Both acid-etched and sandblasted glass use abrasives to create a frosted glass look. Acid treatment is used to created acid-etched glass. While sandblasting is done with a high speed machine that bombards the glass panel with sand, walnut husks or other materials.

Which one is better? That depends on the end goal. Acid-etched glass produces a true frosted look and is more economical than sandblasting.

Sandblasting glass offers versatility in creating design effects. Sandblasting makes it possible to "frost" sections of a glass shower, such as creating privacy strips or patterns.

What are the specs for side hinges?

Below are the most specifications for side-mount hinges that people ask about.

When do I select my glass shower hardware? The first decision you'll need to make is what glass thickness you'll build your frameless shower with. This will determine the hardware, which is designed to fit a specific glass thickness.

What types of side hinges can be used to troubleshoot my shower configuration? The main types of side-mount hinges are a sidewall mount hinge that affixes the glass door to a structural wall. And a glass-to-glass hinge.

Can I use a side hinge to attach my door at a 90 degree angle to a return panel? Yes. We have specially designed hardware for this. It's simplistically called a 90-degree glass-to-glass side-mount hinge.

Will a side hinge work on my neo angle shower door? Yes, we have hardware to hold the 135 degree angle of the neo shower. This special side hinge is called: a 135-degree glass-to-glass side hinge.

If I want a unique, angled shower configuration which side hinges should I use? We have an adjustable glass-to-glass side-mount hinge that may work in most cases.

What is your side hinge made from? Our Hinges are constructed of solid brass, and have stainless steel plungertips, pins, and springs to ensure long service life and reliable door closure. Be wary of other hardware in the off-the-shelf kits. It may be metal-plated, and not hold its finish or longevity.

How much weight can your side hinge hold? When designing your frameless shower door, weight, width and glass thickness determine how many hinges you will need for structural support. Here's a quick guide:

For 3/8" thick glass: two hinges can carry a maximum weight of 80 lbs and door width of 28". Three hinges max out at 120 lbs and 34"

For 1/2" thick glass: two hinges can a maximum weight of 80 lbs and door width of 26". Three hinges max out at 120 lbs and 30" door width.

Do your side hinges come in different designs or do these all look the same? We have several versions of side-mount hinges to choose from. Keep in mind these are hinges, designed to do real work, not just look stylish. The choices range from squared-off hinges to rounded corners and more oval shapes.What finishes are available for side-mount hinges? Our standard sizes come in Brushed Nickel, Chrome, and Oil-Rubbed Bronze.

Squared Edges

Beveled Edges

Short Back Plate

What is a frameless glass shower transom?

A glass transom sits above a frameless glass shower door to close up the overhead space. It can be fixed or movable.

Common applications for using a glass transom include:

Stabilizing Glass Panel avoiding to use the anti-aesthetic metal supporting bars.

Homeowners who would like to avoid the framed look of a metallic header may find a solution by revising their design to incorporate a glass transom.

Venting steam showers: Steam showers must run floor-to-ceiling for an airtight construction so steam can accumulate. Instead of brining the door all the way to the ceiling, most steam showers are designed with movable transoms above the door. The glass transom then acts like a vent and can be tilted open to release hot steam when it's time to cool down.


Can you design a frameless shower that does not leak?

With proper design and installation frameless showers should not have problems with water leakage, but they are not 100 percent watertight.

Fixed glass panels are sealed at the base of the floor and along the sides with clear silicone sealant. Most water seepage comes from the frameless glass door which needs at least 1/4" clearance space along the top, bottom and opening side. And there are many ways to prevent water leakage around a frameless shower door. Here is what we recommend:


Install a shower sweep with drip rail onto the bottom of your frameless glass shower door. This will tighten up the clearance space under the door and prevent water seepage.

Add a back sweep to the rear of the door.

Use a doorstop. Our clear polycarbonate doorstops fit over the edge of an adjacent glass panel and have a lip that extends out to catch the frameless shower door preventing it from swinging into the shower. By catching the door, this jam temporarily closes clearance space along the door opening.


Do not direct water spray at the frameless shower door! Your protective seals improve water tightness but a glass shower is not an aquarium. We automatically seal door hinges to give them a protective property as well, but the hinges are not waterproof. Do not neglect replacing seals. Over time, sweeps and stops may need replacing just as car seals and hoses do. If your frameless glass shower suddenly seems less watertight, check your seals.

Note: Threshold, curb, or lip around the bottom of the shower, as well pony walls, benches or any surface where the glass is going to be seat horizontally should to be slanted inward at a ±2.5-degree (approx. 1/8" to 1/4") "pitch" or slope, so water flows in toward the drain. (A level curb would cause the water to stand, while a curb angled away from the drain would cause water to leak onto the bathroom floor.)

Why do frameless shower estimates vary among companies? Sometimes, a lot?

All frameless showers are NOT created equal.

Meaningful differences among estimates indicate meaningful differences among frameless showers too.

Let's take a look at the most common factors that influence estimate outcomes...

3/8" Glass or 1/2"Glass: Choosing glass thickness is the first step in laying out an estimate. Half-inch glass is stronger and provides greater structural integrity. It's the premium choice. Three-eighth-inch glass is the smallest thickness that can be used to support a frameless shower.

Metal Clips and U-channels: When clients tell us they'd like a frameless glass shower. We give them one. A true frameless shower is installed with 2-inch metal clips fixed directly onto glass panels at minimal intervals. You do have the option of using less expensive U-channels, aluminum rails that fit over the entire edge of glass panels. But these add a framed look to a frameless glass shower. Some companies refer to this as a semi-frameless shower. These rails are used to secure glass panels to each other, a floor, wall or ceiling. Frameless shower estimates for these metal clip installations and U-channel installations will be very different.

Door Hinges: A side hinge attaches the glass door to a wall or another glass panel. When attaching to another glass panel, additional notch cuts in the adjacent glass panel will raise your project estimate. We like side hinges because these can be sealed for a more watertight fit around your shower door.

Glass style and treatment options: For clients who are investing in an all-glass shower, we recommend upgrading to low-iron glass for the highest clarity and best color representation of shower tile work. All standard clear glass, even architectural quality, contain iron particles that evoke a slight, but natural green hue. Low-iron glass has been treated to remove most of the iron particles. Any other specially treated glass such as tinted or frosted glass will also have a slight impact on your final estimate.

Hardware Style & Finishes: Just as showerhead and faucet designs vary in price and finishing choices, so do style choices for clips, rails, door handles, and towel bars. Also, we use the highest quality hardware availability; our hinges, clips and accessories are made from solid metal. Other companies use metal-plated or cast metal hardware that can't compete for durability.

Glass Protection: We can't imagine a client who would not want to protect their shower glass from corroding hard-water stains. A glass protection application is an important election for home owners, and the protection we offer is the most advanced formula we can find: Guardian ShowerGuard. It even comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Now that you know all frameless glass showers are not created equal, let us help you make the best choices for your investment -- and your budget.

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