Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester
Choosing a shower screen or door ultimately comes down to the style of your shower. But there are still plenty of options out there from sliding, folding or curved doors to space-saving screens made of acrylic or safety glass. Read on to find the best screen or door type for your shower!
- Bathroom layout
- Door opening type
- Quality of glass and frame
- Access type
- Care requirements
Shower screens and doors: main features and advantages
Shower screens and doors are designed to prevent water from spraying outside your shower enclosure. An attractive alternative to shower curtains, clear glass screens are also very hygienic – when they're kept clean! This makes them a great option whether you're looking to close off your shower or just to smarten up your bathroom space.
If you don't want your bathroom looking like a swimming pool, shower screens or doors are definitely the way to go! What's more, sealing off your shower will provide added warmth and comfort as the steam held in the enclosure will boost the overall temperature.
In order to make the right choice, you should start by taking measurements and creating a floor plan using the actual dimensions of your bathroom.
The space required for your shower door and/or screen will generally correspond to the size of your shower tray (or the general shower area if you have a walk-in shower). For a shower enclosed on three sides, for example, you'll need to measure along each side of the tray and from the top to the bottom of the enclosure space. Pay special attention to the smallest dimensions and if your shower walls are not plumb, you will have to make some adjustments during installation. If you have low ceilings, think carefully about height specifications when considering your options. The key to doing a good job is to ensure your own measurements are as accurate as possible to make sure the screens will fit correctly.
When selecting a door type, your choice will be guided by the amount of space you have available, your shower layout and your own preferences (hinged, sliding, folding, pivot, etc.). Whether you go for a fixed or hinged screen, the most important factors at play are the quality of the glass and frame, and the dimensions of both parts.
The finish of the frame (made up of plastic, aluminium or chrome-plated steel U channels) and the type of screen you go for (either glass or acrylic) will depend on your tastes, budget and any other requirements you may have.
Shower layout and space considerations
The shape of your shower and how you want to enter it will determine the type of shower screen you choose.
Rectangular corner showers
A single fixed screen installed along the length of the shower is the most popular choice for longer shower enclosures. Adding a hinged door to this screen will further reduce splashing.
Square corner showers
Hinged doors are recommended for square-shaped showers as these enclosures are often small in size which makes splashing unavoidable.
For recessed showers, you have the option of leaving them open (to save space), hanging a shower curtain or installing a hinged, pivot or folding door.
In order to choose the right type, you will need to think about which side the door will open from and how easy the enclosure will be to enter.
Open walk-in showers
In larger bathrooms, your shower can be installed against a wall, giving you access from two sides. In this case, a fixed screen is recommended: there's no need to add on a door. For this kind of layout, the side from which you access the shower will depend on the facilities surrounding it (towel rail, hook, shower mat, etc.).
Different types of shower door
Shower doors should be selected according to their size, the layout of your shower and your personal preferences.
Hinged shower doors
Hinged doors offer the widest shower entry. They open outwards so you will have to think about access and clearance space requirements.
These doors should be installed in more spacious bathrooms or at least where the doors will have enough room to open comfortably.
Sliding shower doors
Sliding doors are the best choice for larger rectangular or square showers. They provide very straightforward access and are great for saving space.
Make sure you go for a large entry width for optimal comfort.
Folding shower doors
These may be bi-fold or multi-fold (with an accordion-like shape). Very popular some years ago, these doors are mainly found in combination with small shower trays or self-contained shower cubicles.
To stop them looking too 'retro' you can always opt for a frame with a modern finish!
Pivot shower doors
Pivot doors are like hinged doors but open by letting part of the door into the shower enclosure.
These doors are particularly practical in small bathrooms!
Fixed shower screens
Fixed shower screens can only be installed in rectangular-shaped showers but do provide the most efficient type of shower entrance.
They can also lend a sleek and stylish look to your bathroom. Be sure to measure these screens carefully, however, to prevent splashing while still keeping the enclosure open.
Shower door and screen dimensions
Shower screens generally come in standard sizes with most ranging from 66 to 140 cm in width. It is possible to go beyond these measurements but only by ordering custom-made screens for specific height or shape requirements (for underneath a ceiling slope, for example).
In terms of height, screens usually measure between 100 and 210 cm. Shower doors will be the same height as any surrounding screens and, though this varies according to type, most range from 66 to 181 cm in width. In general, there's not much point in getting a screen or door measuring over 210 cm in height as water is unlikely to spray over this level.
Shower glass and frame materials
Tempered glass: safety guaranteed
Glass is the most traditionally used material, but it must be a special type of safety glass conforming to specific standards.
This means that it has been designed and treated for household use. It must be between 3 and 8 mm and, if broken, will shatter into small, square-shaped pieces.
You must also be aware of the weight of glass; the thicker it is, the heavier it will be so it's important to choose the right wall plugs if the ones supplied to you are not appropriate for the material.
There are several different finish options available for shower screens:
- transparent: to give a feeling of space;
- printed: for more privacy and a decorative aspect;
- frosted or textured (opaque) for even more privacy.
Acrylic: inexpensive and lightweight
Acrylic screens provide the most cost-effective option but, in all honesty, are not as long-lasting. While this material is more prone to limescale build-up, it is still a good alternative; it is, for example, lighter than tempered glass.
Shower screen and door frames
If you want something top-of-the-range, aluminium offers a stylish and modern look. This material also comes in a range of finishes.
Chrome-plating is a good mid-range option but bear in mind this is not the best material for cleaning perfectionists!
PVC is the most inexpensive option and, thanks to the variety of metal-like tones it offers, can also be an interesting option. For a structure with a clean, stripped back look, you can even opt for a white or black finish.
Cleaning and descaling shower doors and screens
Daily cleaning and routine care
Screens made of acrylic or tempered glass do not require a lot of upkeep. But it's up to you to prevent limescale from building up over time by regularly cleaning your screen and door.
- After showering, it's a good idea to give the surface a quick once over with a squeegee to stop limescale from settling.
- Or you can use an old-fashioned limescale remedy: applying white vinegar and running a squeegee over the affected surface will work wonders!
- Another alternative is to use products specially designed for bathrooms and limescale removal.
Limescale prevention treatments
You can also select a glass that has been coated with an anti-water mark and anti-limescale treatment to avoid the hassle of dealing with marks in your otherwise spotless bathroom.
Applying white vinegar
Four tips for choosing the right shower screen or door
- Your shower screen or door should be chosen according to your shower layout, the amount of space you have and your style preferences.
- Investing in good materials will guarantee quality and durability. This will depend on your needs, budget and the range of materials on offer.
- When it comes to fitting your screen or door correctly, taking the right measurements is essential. These dimensions will vary widely depending on shower type.
- You must also carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions in order for your screen or door to function properly.
Learn more about bathroom design
For DIYers overhauling their bathrooms or those who just want to know more: follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester, 22 guides
After years of DIY, renovation, designing, I decided to turn my passion into my career. Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or contruction projects. My expertise and my curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients. Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives! My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is thus a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!