Tips When Installing Custom Shower Doors

Proudly Installing Custom & Frameless Shower Doors for Homeowners in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, & Beyond Hampton Roads

We cannot stress this enough. Unlike a finished product such as an automobile or brand name product, each fabricator for frameless shower enclosures has their own system and there is a great deal of leeway regarding what a frameless shower door actually “is”. Not all providers have the same interpretation. It’s crazy, but extremely common.

Some places consider “U” channel method of installation frameless…


Whereas other others, such as us, consider the clamp method as frameless.


At Pro Window, we are among the shower door technicians who have have re-branded the “u” channel method as semi-frameless. It’s very easy to get caught up in industry provided jargon “add ons” and “standards”.

Tips When Installing Frameless Shower Doors

Is the enclosure being installed with “U” channel or glass clamps at fixed panel locations?

Look at your proposal carefully, this method should be clearly defined. If it’s not included, ask!!! “U” channel is considerably less expensive because:

  • the aluminum material is much less expensive than the brass construction fittings (typically) used in a fully frameless clamp method system.
  • there is much less glass processing: installing with “u” channel allows for less accurate glass cutting and no fabrication to house glass clamps.

Sometimes you will see the “u” channel being installed at the base sections of fixed panels and a clamp at the wall. A frameless enclosure installed with glass clamps will generally add 20%+ to the cost of the enclosure due to the cost of the fittings as well as the additional glass processing required. This method also requires more precision measuring and installation- you will have a more experienced technician perform this installation. You will often see the term “fully frameless” included in the description when glass clamps are being used. 

Homeowner tip: the “u” channel method has been largely phased out by architectural glass standards as a “frameless” shower door- preferring the clamp method as a fully frameless shower door. Many higher end glass companies will have re-branded the “u” channel method for installation as a heavy glass semi frameless or similar. 

What type of hardware construction is being used?

Look for terms such as “brass construction” “anodized construction” and “look-alike”. With our frameless enclosures, we only use brass construction fittings – plated with whichever metal finish complements your decor (such as chrome, nickel and the like). These fittings are superior to their aluminum counter-parts and are designed to house proper weight loads of glass- meeting and exceeding structural requirements. Some places will use aluminum fittings standard (using terms such as chrome anodized, brushed nickel anodized) in their frameless enclosures. With an add on option to upgrade to brass.

Personally, we feel this isn’t a detail that can be compromised as using aluminum fittings (unless in the case of using “u” channel where the entire perimeter of the glass will be secured) will greatly reduce the enclosure’s structural integrity.

Remember, glass panels using heavy glass can be just that…heavy. And it can be dangerous if not engineered properly. Just because a hinge or clamp looks the “same” as what another company is proposing, do not assume! Methods for securing glass with fittings can be totally different: types of fabrication needed to secure panels can vary greatly- just as the construction can vary. And each clamp has different weight tolerances as a result. 

Other factors that contribute to price change:

  • configuration variations (glass to glass hinging is more expensive than wall mount or pivot hinging)
  • header-less designs are more expensive than with a header. If your enclosure has a return panel, such as a 90 degree or 135 degree, how are these panels being “tied” together? Through the glass clamps are more costly than “sleeve over” clamps that fit over the top of the glass. Through the glass is a higher end look and requires more expensive hardware fittings and additional glass processing.
  • 1/2″ glass is more expensive than 3/8″- (be sure to find out if you are getting standard clear or more costly low iron products)
  • installer- a senior level technician is more expensive than someone who is at entry level

The Basics

Coatings help protect all kinds of glass surfaces, from exterior windows to etched glass and even fine art glass. However, the group that is adopting the technology at the highest rate is the shower enclosure industry. The most significant reason for this is the fact that the typical shower enclosure endures exposure to hard water and body oils every day, making it more susceptible to staining than most other glass surfaces.

Consumers buy clear glass shower enclosures to enhance the beauty of their bathrooms. However, that beauty can quickly diminish as a result of soap scum and hard water stains. Once those stains are on the glass, they can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove, unless it is protected with a low-maintenance coating.

Performance and longevity. “How long does it last?” is one of the most commonly asked questions. It is a critical question that can directly impact a customer’s overall satisfaction. As mentioned, lower-cost coatings won’t last as long. Longer-lasting coatings will be more expensive. 

 “Going cheap” on anything can cost you much more in the long run. 

Many coating suppliers provide a product warranty, so be sure to inquire about warranties when evaluating potential suppliers.

To get a quote, ask questions, or to get started on installing a custom shower door or enclosure, please call (757) 422-8242 or fill out the form below: