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Shower Types Blog

Shower Types – Framed vs. Semi-Frameless vs. Frameless

Shower enclosures can be confusing to many of our customers – even builders! Frameless, semi-frameless, framed… what’s the difference? We thought we’d break it down for you.

A framed shower is just as you would expect – framed in a metal border around all fixed panels and the door.  The metal is usually chrome, and the thickness of the glass is usually 3/16” thick.  While frameless showers are a great option if they suit your space, we do not install them.

shower glass doors

A semi-frameless shower looks very similar to a framed shower, but the door is not framed.  There is metal surrounding all fixed panels on all sides, but the door only has metal along the hinged side (and sometimes the bottom).  The thickness of semi-frameless glass is usually 3/16” or ¼” thick.  We do not install these either!

Frameless showers are where things get really tricky, but we do install these.  A frameless shower can be installed several different ways: with u-channel, with clamps, with a header, with a transom… just to name a few.  We’ve heard many times before that u-channel and/or headers make the shower framed, but that is not true.  For a shower to be frameless, the glass should be “heavy” glass.  That means it’s 3/8” or ½” thick. 

When it is installed with channel, the channel only surrounds the sides of the glass attached to the wall and base, and the door has no channel.  We, personally, really like the look of channel.  It often disappears into the tile it’s secured to, so there’s less in your sightline.  Also, it’s less expensive because it requires less fabrication of the glass.   


However, clamps are a fabulous option as well.  Clamps are usually what customers think of when they envision frameless showers.  They’re clean and classic.  When you have a 90-degree shower, we like to use top corner sleeve-over clamps rather than the double corner clamps that lie about 6-8” down from the top and bottom of the corner pieces because, again, it’s less obstructing your line of vision and less fabrication has to be done to the glass – saving you money! 

Glass Shower - See Through Glass
Custom Shower Doors And Enclosure

And how about that header?  Sometimes, no matter how much you don’t want it, a header is necessary to support the weight of glass.  If you’re in the middle of a bathroom remodel and don’t like the look of a header, make sure your shower setup allows for it! 


When you’re designing your next shower, make sure you know what you’re signing up for and ask for options.  Also, if your glass designer recommends a specific setup for safety reasons, listen to them.  They usually know what they’re talking about! 

Skip the headache on your next home improvement project, and budget to hire the right professional to do the job.