Framed vs. Frameless Shower Doors: What's the Difference?

Ashley Christensen
January 23, 2023

Getting a new shower door installed can take your bathroom from mediocre to Wow! Creating a space that you will want to be in, and won’t dread having to clean every week. There are a variety of different shower door options available, and you are guaranteed to find the right style and fit to make your space exactly how you’ve always envisioned it to be. With so many styles and options available, it can seem a bit overwhelming not knowing where to start or what style you want for your space. The two main shower systems that you’ll need to decide between are framed or frameless. 

There are benefits and disadvantages to each system, that you may want to consider prior to making your final decision. To help make it easier for you to decide between the two, we’ve compiled a list of the advantages and disadvantages associated with both. Once you’ve decided which shower system is right for you, contact your local shower door experts at Gordon’s Glass to schedule a free estimate today! 

Advantages of a Framed Shower Door

Framed shower doors are exactly what they sound like, they are a glass shower door that has a heavy-duty aluminum frame encasing the glass. As a major upgrade from a shower curtain, there are a number of reasons aside from being cleaner and nicer looking, why you should consider a framed shower door. 

  • More Stability: Glass shower doors are made up of tempered glass, which when it breaks, breaks into small pieces, making it safer and reducing the possibility of injury. Additionally, framed shower doors have a heavy-duty aluminum frame which provides stability and steadies the door, reducing the risk of it shattering. 
  • Easier to Install: Framed shower doors simply require the frame to be hung up. Framed shower doors can fit over any type of shower material, whereas frameless shower doors require the proper placement of hinges and hardware in order to safely and properly install the door. 
  • Keep Water In: The purpose of a shower door is to keep water inside the shower and not all over your bathroom floor. Framed shower doors do a better job at this than alternative shower enclosure options, as they are less likely to leak. There is a track contained within the frame that traps water, additionally, there is a layer of caulk and the metal frame which all work together to keep the water inside the shower and now spilling out. 
  • Variety of Frame Options: There are a variety of frame options available to fit your style and desired look. Depending on your space and opening size, you may have the ability to select a sliding glass door in lieu of a pivot door for more space. 
  • More Cost Effective: A framed shower door system will on average save you approximately 10-15% compared to a frameless shower door system. 

Disadvantages of Framed Shower Doors: 

While there are plenty of advantages that draw people to purchasing framed shower doors, there are a few disadvantages that you should consider before making a purchase. 

  • Limited Range of Motion: Framed shower doors will only open in one direction–outward. This limited range of motion can be limiting, depending on your space and personal needs. 
  • Harder to Maintain: Because there are more components to a framed shower door, they will require more maintenance. The metal framing can begin to corrode over time, due to the excess moisture that it is constantly being exposed to. Soap scum and water droplets can cause mildew to build up around the shower frame and caulking. 
  • Outdated Design: Styles and trends evolve and are constantly changing, which means that your shower door could potentially appear outdated in a couple of years. While there are various different options to select from, styles keep changing and what might be in style when you buy it, might not be in style in a few years. 

Advantages of Frameless Shower Doors 

Currently, frameless shower doors are all the rage, with many homeowners electing to purchase a frameless shower door over a framed door. Often times they have a clean, more modern appearance, that many homeowners appreciate. Aside from the appearance of frameless shower doors, there are other advantages to going for frameless instead of a framed option. 

  • Available in Plenty of Design Options: Frameless shower doors are available in a variety of styles and designs, allowing you to get the custom shower door of your dreams. While the premise of a frameless shower door is that there is no metal frame around the glass, you will still have metal hinges and handles. 
  • Wide Range of Motion: The hinges that are used on frameless shower doors, allow for the door to swing inward and outward, giving them a wider range of motion. This feature removes the limit that is placed on traditional framed shower doors. 
  • Easier to Maintain: The lack of a frame makes it easier to clean than a framed shower door. There is less chance of dirt, grime, and soap scum collecting in a frameless shower door, as there is a limited number of places where it can collect. 
  • Design Feature: Because there is little hardware, a frameless shower door can make your space feel more speciation and airy. Additionally, there is a greater emphasis that can be placed on other design features within your bathroom, such as your shower tile work. 

Disadvantages of Frameless Shower Doors

Frameless shower doors and beautiful and offer a lot of flexibility, but they do have their drawbacks as well 

  • Price: Frameless shower doors and beautiful, but they come at a price. Frameless shower doors are a lot more expensive than traditional framed shower doors. 
  • Instability: The lack of a frame, means that thicker tempered glass is required to offer some sort of stability to the shower door. The tempered glass is still safe, but it is going to be less stable than a framed glass door as it doesn’t have the support that a frame offers. 
  • Complicated Installation: Unlike framed shower doors, the type of shower that you have will factor into how a frameless shower door is installed. Proper installation will be required to ensure that the door is safe. 
  • Water Leaks: Without a frame to control the water and keep it inside the shower, a frameless shower door allows for water to leak out and onto the bathroom floor. While this might not be a deal breaker for many, it is essential to know that water will not be confined to the shower itself with a frameless shower door. 

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both framed and frameless shower doors. To learn more, or to schedule a free estimate, contact Gordon’s Glass today! 


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