Tom Basile of Precision Shower Door, an industry veteran with more than 35 years’ experience, offers advice and great tips to help you be an educated consumer.
Q) It seems everyone is selling frameless shower enclosures. Are they basically all the same?
A) Great question. The simple answer is no, frameless shower enclosures are not all the same. In fact, there is a great disparity between products. Education is the key to getting value for your money. A frameless enclosure consists of three main ingredients: 1) glass, 2) hardware, and 3) experience and expertise in the measurement, manufacture, and installation.
Clarvista® glass is patented specifically for shower enclosures. It is non-porous and will not stain. Clarvista® is permanent. Less expensive glazing-quality glass is porous, and once stained, it is permanently discolored and will always look dirty.
Caution! Aftermarket coatings are mostly temporary and often sold with exorbitant markups. If you purchase the correct glass, you will have no need for costly add-ons.
Fact: "Clear glass" is green, and depending on its origin, it can be very green.
Starphire® ultra-clear glass by PPG is the industry’s clearest choice. Unlike conventional clear glass, which gets darker and greener as it becomes thicker, the clarity of Starphire® glass actually intensifies with greater thickness. Because of its unparalleled clarity, Starphire® glass also offers exceptional color fidelity.
1/2” glass is the preferred thickness for structural stability. 3/8" glass is often used to compensate for low-capacity hinges, and is inferior.
All factors being equal, the cost difference between the two is negligible, so 1/2" is recommended if suitable and available.
Hinges + Hardware
While most shower door hinges look similar, the true measure of a quality hinge is in its weight capacity. A capacity of 250 pounds per set is the best in the industry, allowing for the widest doors [up-to 40"], which in turn allows for ease of use and durability.
The best material will not compensate for poor craftsmanship. From accurate measurement to precise manufacture to final installation, it is all crucial.
It’s important to use a reputable, reliable company. Remember, after-sale service can and will be needed throughout the life of the product. A professional will stand behind the product and make themselves available for maintenance in a timely manner.
When possible, visit the vendor’s showroom and test the displays. Ask questions. Demand answers. Make sure all necessary costs are included in the quote…glass, hardware, installation, and removal of your existing shower door. Leave nothing to chance.
We hope these tips will help you make the most educated decision when purchasing your shower door. Be diligent about making an apples-to-apples comparison, because false comparisons are useless. In the end, satisfaction is the only metric of the true cost and value of the product.
Be more suspicious of a cheap price, as no one sells something for less than it is worth.