Aquaglass sliding door shower in bathroom scene

The Definitive Shower Door Guide For 2021

Are you thinking about replacing an existing or buying a new shower door? Read on for an in-depth shower door guide that reveals all you need to know to make an informed purchase.

What Do We Mean By A Shower Door?

When we refer to a shower door we’re basically talking about the entry hardware to a shower space. The door will be a flat frame with a pivoting, sliding, hinged or folding glass opening.

We’re not talking about full corner shower enclosures or cubicles which create a ready-made 3D environment to shower in. We’re only talking about the door facility which usually fits to provide the entry to an alcove showering space or is partnered with a side panel to create a corner shower.

What Types Of Shower Door Are There?

There are various types of shower door each with there own advantages and disadvantages. We’ll work through each to give a balanced view to help you decide which might be best for your space. If you have any questions please use the comments section at the bottom of this guide.

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Sliding Shower Doors

The space saving Ultra Apex sliding shower door
The Apex sliding shower door is shown with the door slightly open

Sliders or sliding doors are perfect for creating large shower spaces. These are a popular design that incorporates a fixed panel and a sliding panel. The sliding panel sits on rollers within a track and slides behind the fixed panel to allow access.

Most manufacturers offer a minimum of 500mm access space. Since the door has to slide behind the fixed panel the minimum size of a sliding door is usually 1000mm.

In a 2 panel system, they generally go up to 1700mm with the 1200mm width being the most popular selling model for UK bathrooms.

This design can be fitted into an alcove but most manufacturers will also offer side panels up to 900mm in length to create a corner shower space. Some designs also incorporate 2 fixed panels and/or 2 central sliding doors that open out.

Pros

  • Perfect for creating larger shower spaces
  • The door doesn’t open out and take up any floor space in the bathroom
  • A side panel can be added to create a corner showering space
  • Most designs can be flipped for LH or RH access

Cons

  • Sizes only usually start at 1000mm wide
  • The rollers can fail and may need replacing at some point

See a full range of sliding shower doors.

Pivot Shower Door

Ella pivot shower door from just 660mm wide
Simple pivot shower door in a recessed space, shown closed

Pivot doors are so-called because of the offset pivot design. The hinge or pivot is positioned top and bottom of the door about 25% of the way in on the length. This means when the door is opened only three-quarters of it opens out into the bathroom, saving a little space.

The other benefit of this space-saving design is that there’s very little to go wrong. We’ve never heard of a failed pivot door. The simplicity of the mechanics is also reflected in the price. If you need a small cheap shower door then a pivoting door might be the answer.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Simple design nothing much to go wrong
  • Good for small spaces with some designs adjusting down to 650mm

Cons

  • 75% of the door opens into bathroom space

See our full range of pivot shower doors.

Infold / Inswing Shower Door

Scudo Infolding Shower Door shown with door open
Unique infolding shower door with towel rail shown open

Perhaps the most unique and rare design of all shower doors. The Infold incorporates a special arm mechanism which opens the door into the showering space. Then once you’re in and you close, it wraps back around you. Some go entirely into the shower space while others straddle halfway in and halfway out.

It’s a beautiful sweeping motion but all these mechanics do come at a cost. Inswing doors can cost up to 3 times as much as a pivot offering. With little competition on the market, there’s nothing to drive the price down.

Currently only Scudo makes these units. However, for those where space is at a premium, it could be the perfect solution.

With shower doors, other than the outer wall profiles the door is already constructed. So, in this case, the mechanics won’t incur any additional fitting time.

Pros

  • Great space-saving design
  • Sizes from 700-1000mm
  • Smooth opening action

Cons

  • Relatively expensive design because of the intricate mechanism

See our full range of Infold Shower Doors.

Bifold Shower Door

Mira Leap bifold door in a corner installation
Mira Leap bifold shower installed in a corner with a matching side panel

This is one of the oldest and most reliable tried and tested designs. Used in residential properties as well as caravans and mobile homes. The split-folding, inward opening design is simple and reliably does the job.

There’s a lot to like with a bifold but because you’ve essentially got a frame within a frame some cheaper models can look a bit bulky, a bit profile heavy. Furthermore, because the inner frame has to be slimmer the glass thickness in many models is usually 4mm. This can make it feel flimsy when opening and closing.

If you’re going to have one get one from a decent brand. This will prove to be more reliable and aesthetically pleasing.

Pros

  • The inward opening design saves bathroom space

Cons

  • Generally thinner glass
  • Not as attractive as some doors

View all our Bifold Shower doors.

Hinged Shower Door

Pacific hinged shower door from Ultra
A hinged Pacific shower door shown slightly open

This shower door is the nearest you’ll get to a standard door design. There won’t be a levered handle but other than that it’s the same except it’s made of glass.

Simply turn it upside down to install for a LH or RH opening. The glass is secured to the frame via 2 clasp style hinges. Glass thickness tends to be 6-8mm.

Quality and price tend to be dictated by the door furniture that the manufacturers opt to use. Italian hinges, long chrome brass handles and options such as easy clean glass all add to the cost.

Many hinged doors are available as premium frameless designs. There are less hinged designs at the commodity end of the market and they usually find their way into more spacious bathrooms. Those who a short for space will choose a bifold or infold option.

Pros

  • Attractive frameless designs available
  • Works just like any door you’re used to opening and closing

Cons

  • An open door takes up more bathroom space than other designs
  • Can be expensive with thicker glass and premium fittings

View all of our hinged shower doors.

Where Can You Fit A Shower Door

Most people will be fit a shower door into a recess or partner with a side panel for fitting into a corner. This setup generally dictates that the showering space will be either square or rectangular.

Less common but still a possibility with some shower doors is a single wall setup, perfect if you don’t have a free corner or an alcove. This is achieved by using 2 side panels. Not all shower doors have the correct profiles included to be able to achieve this so check with the retailer or manufacturer to be sure.

What’s the Minimum Shower Door Width?

We get asked a lot about what the minimum width of a door should is. The smallest size manufactured for home use is 700mm. With adjustment on some models, this can go down to 650mm wide.

650mm, if you measure it out is a really tight space for most people. Regardless of what the manufacturers make, your main consideration should be to choose a shower that you can comfortably get washed in. Don’t fit a shower just because it satisfies a specification.

Which Side Should A Shower Door Open?

First things first, there is no right or wrong here, most shower doors on the market are now reversible. That is they can be installed with the door hinge on the left or the right. To achieve this with most designs you simply rotate the whole door by 180 degrees – flip it upside down, in layman terms.

Sliding shower doors incorporate a fixed panel. Your fitter will install this on the LH or RH side depending on your preference for entering the shower space. Only if the glass incorporates any kind of cut-outs or oversized rollers might you have to choose a model with handing incorporated – LH or RH entry.

Which way you install is down to your preference and what’s practical for the space available.

Available Types Of Glass Finish

Most shower door models on the market generally incorporate clear glass. The frosted dolphin or wave design from 20 years ago are less popular with people opting for simpler minimalist designs.

Aquaglass Glide with mirrored side panel
Aquaglass sliding door with an optional mirrored side panel

There are some good tinted black glass designs on the market though as well as designs that incorporate a mirrored side panel or central glass section. Some of the more upmarket frameless designs include tinted glass as well as black frame shower screen options.

Understanding Door Adjustments For Purchasing the Correct Size

Ordering the correct size door is obviously really important. Important for the customer because the process of sending back in one piece is difficult and getting a replacement out will take time and potentially delay the job and incur costs from fitters.

It’s also inconvenient for the retailer as the real cost of delivering a shower door to a customer is usually much higher than what’s displayed on the website and what a customer thinks they’re paying for delivery.

Retailers often hide this cost within the price of the product. Incorrectly ordered items when returned expose these costs and make it difficult to earn any kind of margin on popular price-sensitive items.

So let us ensure the correct sized door is ordered in the first place.

Shower doors are sold by the maximum width they will fit.

So a 900mm door will fit a recessed space of 900mm. It cannot grow to fit a space of 910mm. In that situation you could use a filler piece and also some doors, like those from Mira or Premiers Pacific range, are available with extending profiles at an additional cost. This is convenient but aesthetically because of the wider profiles, they don’t look as good.

If you have a space of 870mm, that 900mm door will fit providing it has an adjustment range of 30mm or more. The adjustment range put simply is the amount the door can shrink to fit ad-hoc sized spaces.

This is made possible by the outer profiles that can slide in and out of the inner door profile. Allowing for differing widths and the fact that the walls in many homes aren’t always true. So the recess you fit the door into might be wider at the top than it is at the bottom and vice versa.

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Buy Cheap and You’ll Buy Twice

It’s a well known saying but it’s never been truer of products like shower doors.

On cheaper doors, the glass safety standard should be OK in the UK but you’ll no doubt miss out on premium features such as easy clean glass. Worse than that though some components are likely to be sub-standard. Handles, rollers or other mechanical parts will likely need replacing sooner than they would have on a better model.

Things like the documentation and fitting instructions will be limited at best. This is where manufacturers have to skimp in order to get the price down. So bear in mind if you want it cheap sacrifices will have been made even if it’s not obvious where.

Stick with a decent brand or at least where the online listing details all the important bits about after-sales support from the manufacturer and you’ll be fine.

10 thoughts on “The Definitive Shower Door Guide For 2021”

  1. Hello. I wonder if you can help me please? I have an infold/inswing shower door and today had a slippery floor accident and one of the top roller bits has fallen off, split and lost half the ball bearings. I have photos of the piece. Do you supply spare parts please?
    I reckon I can fit it as I can see you twist the bit attached to the door outwards and then I assume you push the unit into the groove.

    1. Hi Alison,
      What is the brand of the shower door? We can then advise if we can supply a spare or send you to the right place.
      Regards
      Dean

  2. Hi could you advise please?
    I have a width of 1060mm and most doors I see seem to be 1000m or then jump to 1200mm. Will a 1000mm door be big enough for this space?

    Kind regards
    Jason

    1. Hi Jason,
      Not without some kind of packing material to make up the 60mm. Ideally you need an 1100mm door with an adjustment range of at least 40mm. Plenty of models like that here.

  3. Is it possible to hinge a glass door onto an existing glass side panel which is currently a walk in shower.The problem is the water when showering splashes outside the shower tray.Thank you.

  4. Hi, I have a shower in the corner of my bathroom with a single 1000mm glass wall panel down the left side and a 900mm opening at the front.

    I want to fit a door across the front opening (water splashes onto the floor and it’s cold in winter). I get that I can fix to the wall easily, but how do I know if it’s possible to connect to the glass wall panel on the left?

    Will ANY 900mm wide door work?

    The alternative is to fit a 450mm glass wall panel across the opening and leave a 450mm gap to get in and out, but I’m not sure this will stop the water going onto the floor.

    Or fit an entire new shower enclosure. But the door tends to be on the longer side, which wouldn’t work with the bathroom door.

    Any advice appreciated, thanks!!

    1. Hi Jane,
      You can’t fit any old 900mm door to an existing panel I’m afraid. The corner profile that comes complete with the door is generally specific to the individual manufacturer.

      Your second idea of adding a flipper/return panel is more workable since these can be retro-fitted to existing screens. Just note that you need to get one compatible with the glass thickness of your existing panel and ideally that is of a similar height for aesthetic purposes. Finally note that return panels are usually only 250-350mm wide, like this one – https://www.showerenclosuresuk.com/aquatech-8mm-300mm-return-panel.html

      Hope this helps.

  5. Thanks, that is helpful. I suppose I’d also need a narrow fixed panel for the hinged return panel to fix to? If the total opening is 900mm wide and the hinge is 250mm wide then I’ll need at least another 250mm gap so when the hinged panel is folded back the entrance into the shower is 500mm. This leaves me needing a fixed panel of 400mm.

    (I’m wondering whether it’s best if I start again from scratch! Remove the side panel and replace with a new side panel and door! It’s not great for the environment to dispose of a perfectly good piece of shower glass/panel but neither is wasting water splashing onto the floor!)

  6. Dear Bailey,
    Could you please tell me if a free standing shower cubicle is safe with two side panels and a sliding door?
    Or should it be a three sided cubicle?
    Please advise.

  7. Hi Dean,
    I have loft space next to bathroom wall both about 180cm and can cut doorway thru centre up to say 80cm wide. Would like to fit large tray along other side of wall, say 120×90 but, obviously, it could not project through the wall for a standard shower door to fit “between” the walls. Does anyone make shower doors that can be fitted flush to the inner face of the wall so that it can also sit on top of the tray edge? ( Eg Using “h” profile jambs instead of “F” or “U”) ?

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