Framed Vs. Frameless Shower Doors

Showers have come a long way and so have designs of shower doors. The newer frameless doors are very popular and give the appearance of no boundaries because of all the clear glass.

Showers have come a long way and so have designs of shower doors.  The newer frameless doors are very popular and give the appearance of no boundaries because of all the clear glass.

The framed shower doors have been around longer and many homeowners will continue to opt for these because of tradition and their low cost.  Choosing a framed or frameless shower door may come down to a personal preference and what works with your budget and lifestyle.


Framed shower doors have a metal frame or trim around a panel of glass and are used for shower and tub enclosures.  Manufacturers have made many improvements on the framed glass and metal trim on these doors and there is a wider variety for customers to choose from.

The metal trim comes in many colors and there is a large selection of glass finishes available. 

Frameless shower doors are made out of thick pieces of glass that have no border or frame and have the appearance of glass floating in air.  Heavy-duty hinges at the top and bottom of the door support the glass doors.


Framed doors, and sliding glass doors that overlap, work well if your showerhead will be close to the door since they are designed with extra rubber seals to prevent any water from leaking out onto the floor.  A frameless door has a 1/4-inch gap around the door, and while it looks sleek and shows off the interior shower nicely, it will allow water to splash outside the shower if the water spray is close to the door.

Another consideration is which door will work best for your shower size and bathroom measurements.  The framed doors can be placed at any angle with the pivoting trim on the hinge track.

The frameless, however, must be set at the door rests at 180, 135 and 90 degrees to the hinge panel.  If clearance is problem, the frameless doors may not fit.

There are special ways to combat this situation but the average homeowner installing it himself may not be able to figure out the solution and should probably choose the traditional framed doors. 


Frameless shower doors cost about twice as much as framed doors.  The extra expense is due to the heavy-duty hardware on the frameless doors to hold the thicker glass.

The production process of frameless doors also requires extra sanding on the edge of the glass, which brings up the cost, according to the Texas Shower Company. 


The newer framed door options, like brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze finishes, offer just as nice of shower doors as the frameless choices.  With more shower door designs, framed doors have become even more affordable.

Frameless doors offer the open, bright look of clear glass.  If space allows for the door configurations, frameless can make a small bathroom look bigger and make a large bathroom grander.

A light above the shower, when used with frameless doors, can display tile mosaics or custom designs in the shower interior for an elegant look.  Large showers with multiple showerheads and sprays are perfect for frameless doors.


Because both framed and frameless doors are designed with glass panels, keeping the glass clean may be a problem with hard water and soap scum.  One disadvantage to a frameless door is that it has more glass to clean and more hard water stains to see if you don’t do the required cleaning of the glass.

About the Author

John Fechik has been writing since 2009. He owns a business in Michigan and is a licensed builder with over 35 years of experience in kitchen/bath design and cabinet making. He also has over 40 years of experience in the music and recording industry and buys and sells items on eBay. He has an Associate of Applied Science degree in orthotic/prosthetic technology from Baker College.