Are you thinking about replacing an existing one 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.
Table of Contents
What Do We Mean By A Shower Door?
When we refer to shower doors 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 doors each with its 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.
Sliding Shower Doors
Sliders or sliding shower 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.
- 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
- 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
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.
- Low price
- Simple design nothing much to go wrong
- Good for small spaces with some designs adjusting down to 650mm
- 75% of the door opens into bathroom space
See our full range of pivot shower doors.
Infold / Inswing Shower Door
Perhaps the most unique and rare design of all shower doors. The Infold incorporates a special arm mechanism that 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.
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.
- Great space-saving design
- Sizes from 700-1000mm
- Smooth opening action
- Relatively expensive design because of the intricate mechanism
See our full range of Infold Shower Doors.
Bifold Shower Door
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.
- The inward opening design saves bathroom space
- Generally thinner glass
- Not as attractive as some doors
View all our Bifold Shower doors.
Hinged Shower Door
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 fewer 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.
- Attractive frameless designs available
- Works just like any door you’re used to opening and closing
- 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 in order 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 be. 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.
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.
Choice of Frame Finish
For years you had the choice of chrome or white profiled shower doors. While chrome is still popular white frames are seen as cheap, the type you might see in a static caravan.
So if you’re choosing brass or gold taps or shower hardware you can now have a matching shower door. Just remember not to clean the door profiles with anything abrasive as coatings can easily be scratched or worn.
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 inner profiles that can slide in and out of the outer door profile that is fastened to your wall. 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.
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.
A hinged shower door operates just like the door of your house or car with the hinges at one end supporting the full weight of the glass door. A pivot shower door usually has a rotating pivot joint top and bottom of the door and uniquely this is positioned inwards from the edge of the glass, approx 150mm. This means that not all of the door opens into your bathroom, saving space and also that the weight of the glass puts less stress onto the pivot as it is distributed on either side.
Based on sales and availability the sliding shower door or bypass door is the most popular. These generally consist of 1 or possibly 2 doors that slide on rollers behind a fixed panel to reveal the opening. They’re available from most manufacturers in sizes from 1000-1700mm with matching side panels. This means they will fit a wide range of bathrooms.
Since the early 60s shower doors in the UK have most commonly been made from tempered glass, replacing the less safe annealed glass. During manufacturing tempered glass goes through a process of heating and cooling making it highly durable. Furthermore, if damaged tempered glass breaks into small chunks as opposed to sharp shards as with annealed glass.
Hello, my name is Dean.
Together with my business partner we own and operate Shower Enclosures UK.com Ltd.
We’ve been running the business for over 9 years and have amassed a reasonable amount of knowledge and expertise on the subject of shower and bathroom hardware. Enough that we’ve been able to put together a series of blog posts that should make buying bathroom goods that little bit simpler and help answer all the most popular questions.
If there’s anything that doesn’t make sense or needs expanding on please let us know in the comments. You can also reach out to me on LinkedIn
Thanks for taking the time to read our posts.