Types of shower glass

Understanding the differences between Framed, Semi-Framed and Frameless Showers

When remodeling a bathroom, multiple decisions need to be made about tile, sinks, faucets, cabinets, etc. Perhaps among the most perplexing problems to solve in a bathroom remodel is what type of shower enclosure is best for your bathroom design. The three main types of shower enclosures we’ll discuss here are Framed, Semi-Framed, and Frameless. They each have their own merits.

Framed showers are just like they sound. A metal frame surrounds each piece of glass, including the door. Benefits to choosing this type include:

Versatility, especially in a challenging layout:

Because framed showers have the metal supports all around, they can work in nearly any area. And you can select a metal finish to either stand-out as a feature, or blend in, depending on your preferences.


Of all glass shower enclosure options, fully-framed is the most economical. There are many excellent design options available at surprisingly low prices.


If installed properly, any type of shower screen can be an effective, water-tight enclosure. Though since frameless showers have no connecting frame at the bottom of the door, it could be possible for some moisture to escape, so a framed shower is best if you have concerns about getting a small amount of water on the floor.


These showers last and last with very little maintenance

A drawback to consider is that the doors can look a little bulkier than other types since they have the metal and rubber seal. Plus, the doors must open outward only so you must consider that in your design.

Semi-framed showers have a metal frame surrounding the structure, but not around the entire door. This is a compromise that joins the best of both worlds. They feature a slightly sleeker look than fully-framed showers, but also offer the water-tightness of a framed shower. The part that is genuinely frameless here in this hybrid is the section on the door handle side and across the top of the door. As you might expect, since this has some qualities of a frameless shower and some qualities of the fully-framed, the price usually falls somewhere between those two options.

Frameless showers are arguably the most modern looking of options, with their sleek, clean lines. They are particularly effective in highlighting beautiful tile work, and in making a small bathroom look bigger, since the visual space extends without obstruction to the back of the shower wall. Frameless shower enclosures are installed with special purpose hardware clamps, and typically have either a bypass or pivot style door. The glass thickness on this type of shower door is typically either 3/8” or .5” thick.

In the “pros” column for frameless showers:

Contemporary, minimalistic look that won’t detract from other design features

Long life span

Highly customizable

Visually adds ‘space’ to a bathroom

Ease of cleaning

However, “cons” include:

Most expensive of the three options

Can sometime lack performance since there are no seals (this can usually be mitigated by ensuring that the direction of the showerhead points away from the door).

After you’ve thought through your options, be sure contact a trusted glass professional for proper installation of your new glass shower enclosure.