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  • Kylie Ellison

Framed Vs. Semi-Frameless Vs. Frameless Shower Doors


Shopping for what you want in your home can be confusing, especially shower doors. Trying to figure out the industry jargon. What is a framed shower door exactly? What makes a shower door semi-framless? How is a shower enclosure "frameless" if there is a metal channel around the around the outside? To make it even more difficult is the lack of consistency within the industry. What our C. Bennett might consider frames may be classified as semi-frameless by another company. Shower door manufacturers, retailers, and installers each have their own set of terminology and definitions, making it extremely difficult for you, as a customer, to compare products you think you want, or understand exactly what you're purchasing.

While there will never be an agreement about the terminology or boundaries between types of shower doors, there are a couple rules that will explain the major differences. We hope this information will alleviate some of your confusion and help you pick out exactly what you're imagining!

Framed Shower Doors

Pro: Cost efficient, high adjustable

Con: Very thin glass, aesthetic look is dominated by metal, hard to repair, hard to replace individual parts, difficult to customize the glass and hardware

Framing refers to the presence of metal on the single panels of glass, not if there is metal on the outside perimeter of the shower enclosure itself. This is usually what causes the confusion of customers with the jargon the industry. Framed shower doors consist of glass panels that are framed in metal individually, swinging or sliding within the additional metal wall jambs and channels to create a finished shower enclosure.

Framed shower doors are great products. If you purchase one from a reputable company, like C. Bennett, and have it professionally installed, it should last for 10+ years. Because the glass is thin, it makes the door feel a little flimsy compared to heavier glass shower doors, especially with frameless ones.

Semi-Framless Shower Doors

Pro: Can be somewhat customizable, has less metal than framed shower doors, and also highly adjustable

Con: Cost efficient, but not much less expensive than a frameless shower door, still has relatively thin glass, metal still dominates design structure, very difficult to repair, hard to replace individual parts

Semi-framless shower doors can be the most confusing type in the shower door industry mostly because there is no standardized definition among the different manufacturers. Usually, semi-frameless shower doors are combined with framed stationary glass and partially framed doors. Or in some cases, a partially framed door is being stabilized with a metal frame on the hinge side of the door and at it's base. While the top of the door as well as the handle side have no actual metal physically attached to the glass.

This next example some people can call semi-frameless while others call it frameless. A door with metal wall jams, a metal track at the base, and then a metal header atop the unit. The sliding panels are free-floating within this structure. These units used to be considered "frames", but now newer models in the sliding shower segments, the ones with considerably less metal overall, most people call them sliding bypass systems "semi-frameless".

Semi-frameles units are nice because the glass is thicker than it is in most framed shower enclosures. Using 1/4" or 3/8" glass this makes semi-frameless have a sturdier fell. Since there is still metal associated with these enclosures, there is good adjustability. Especially compared to frameless shower enclosures which can only be installed with very precise measurements and out of level conditions. The cost of semi-frameless units are not much less expensive compared to fully frameless shower enclosures, causing the purchasing decision of them to be harder to justify. For just hundreds of dollars more, not thousands, homeowners can upgrade to a fully frameless shower door that will function and remain looking better over time.

Frameless Shower Doors

Pro: Thicker glass, small amounts of metal, easier to repair, easier to replace individual parts, easier to customize glass and hardware to your specifications, extremely sturdy

Con: Higher cost, small amount of adjustability

Frameless shower doors are at the top of the good/better/best comparison between framed, semi-frameless, and frameless shower doors. Frameless shower enclosures use heavy 3/8" of 1/2" glass to make sure the enclosures are more sturdy, even without the considerable amount of metal support in the channel or header systems. With this being said, frameless shower doors can gave metal header supports at the top of the units, which is why the jargons confusing.Even with the metal header, these systems are still "frameless" because of the lack of metal between the doors to keep them in line and secure to the enclosure. The very low-profile metal channel at the base of the this glass enclosure allows this function.

Customizing the glass types and hardware options are extremely easy when it comes to frameless shower doors. This allows many options compared to their framed and semi-frameless counterparts. The many shower for glass options in the frameless category makes them very unique and highly desirable. This also goes for the shower door handles, knobs, towel bars and robe hooks. Matching them to your existing shower door hardware is much easier with frameless shower door enclosures than the other options.

Hopefully this will help you understand the differences between the types of enclosures and provide you with enough information for what you want in your shower door enclosure. If you have any more questions, please contact C. Bennett and we will happily help you find and understand the right fit for your bathroom!!


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