Frameless vs Framed vs Kohler Shower Doors

May 31, 2011

As mentioned in previous posts, the term “frameless shower door” is one that can have slightly different meanings, depending on whom you ask. Purists will say that a frameless shower has no metal framing. Purists would also have to anchor their glass into the tile to support it.

Our view is that a frameless shower has less of the metal framing typically seen in standard framed showers. Typically a 3/4″ piece of aluminum U-Channel is used to support the glass panels along the base and sides. In some cases a small profile header bar is used for structure support. Frameless showers could also be called heavy glass showers as glass thicknesses of 3/8″ or 1/2″ are used.

Frameless Glass vs Framed Glass

Framed showers typically use 3/16″ or 1/4″ glass. Due to the thinness of the glass, noticeable door deflection, or wobbling, is present when the door is opened. As you can see in the picture below, the
heavy glasses used in frameless showers are far more substantial than the thinner 1/4″ or 3/16″ glasses used in framed showers. Pictured from right to left: 1/2″ glass, 3/8″ glass, 1/4″ glass, and 3/16″ glass.

glass thickness profile

Obviously there is a cost difference between paying for a standard framed shower and a frameless heavy glass shower. But as you can see in the picture, you’re getting a far more solid and substantial product when you choose heavy glass.

Frameless vs Imitations

A true “frameless shower enclosure” by our view is also one that involves a bit of craftsmanship and customization. Exact measurements of the opening are taken and your glass is cut to size to exactly fit your opening.

There are a number of products on the market by the mass distribution companies such as Kohler or Basco that simulate the custom frameless shower enclosure. For example, Kohler has recently launched their PuristĀ® line of do-it-yourself frameless shower doors. These products offer flexibility to diy’ers by providing up to 3″ of adjustability for a door and panel.

Thus instead of having your glass custom cut, you can finagle their metal to adjust to your opening. Below is a picture I got off the Kohler website. The link to their product is: Click Here

adjustable shower door track

I should disclaim that I personally have never touched this product nor tried to install it myself. I do know though that in order to create the adjustability, extra metal is required. I wonder how you purists feel about that? Ironic that Kohler chose the term “Purist” as the product name.

I also know that while the stationary panel comes in 3/8″ glass, the actual door only comes in 1/4″ glass (read: flimsy thin glass door). Kohler’s DIY frameless shower door and panel that fits an opening 39″ – 42″ x 72″ in Chrome finish retails at $1210 according to their website. I believe that price assumes you will purchase the door at a retailer, there is no shipping across country.

Our door & panel is custom cut to fit your exact opening up to 48″, is made with ALL 3/8″ glass, and ships directly to you for less than $1000. To me there’s no question where the better value is, pure and simple.

One Response to “Frameless vs Framed vs Kohler Shower Doors”

  1. Vicky Jensen says:

    The right metal framing can really change the look and feel of your door. I think it works much better with framing, which is why I made sure all my shower doors were framed. I spent a lot of time using McGraw Hill’s Sweets Directory of construction products to research my options. They have a lot of important information that can help you make an informed decision. I have used them for years because they have made so many of my home improvement projects easier. I highly recommend them.

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