Choosing Your Shower Door

Tips on buying a shower door for your bathroom renovation project, including price, material and styles.

Replacing a shower door can be part of a total bath renovation or a simple way to rejuvenate the look of your bathroom. Following these tips will help you select the shower door that will work best for you.

The first point to consider is how much money you have to spend. This will help you to narrow your selection to the shower doors you can afford. Next, measure the opening the shower door needs to cover. Allow this measurement to help narrow your choices down even further. Once you have a budget in mind and measurements in hand, you still aren't quite ready to start looking at new doors. Take a good look at the bathroom where the shower door will be hung (or the other fixtures you have selected if your shower door purchase is part of a complete renovation).

Take your cues from the existing furnishings of your bathroom. If you have brass-toned accents, continue the look in your shower door frame. The same is true for chrome. Is your look modern? The clean, contemporary lines should be complemented in your shower door. Rose etchings in the glass would be best suited to a romantic or traditional look.

Speaking of glass, the doors of your shower can be made of glass or a hard plastic such as plexi-glass. Plexi-glass is often easier to install because it is much lighter than glass and is much less cumbersome to handle. Whether you select glass or plexi-glass, you can still choose frosted, lined or plain glass. Frosted glass is a particularly good choice if you are modest and will not be using a decorative curtain in front of the shower door. Mirrored surfaces are yet another choice for your shower door. Finally, think about the way you want the door to open. It can rest on top of the tub and slide open like a pocket door or it can sit on hinges and swing open like a regular door.

You are finally ready to start looking for the shower door that will satisfy your design elements and your wallet. Look at doors outside of your price range first to pick out features you hope to find in a less costly version. You can find designer doors at boutique-style fixture stores and their less-expensive counterparts at chain store "big box" stores. You can also scour close-out stores and liquidation sales to find a pricey door within your budget. Many times these doors aren't imperfect - they are overstock or the byproduct of a business that has decided to close. Occasionally you may need to replace a screw or smooth out a small imperfection, but typically the savings is enough to make it worthwhile.

If your home is full of unique pieces and architectural elements, you may want to consider hiring an artisan to make the door for you. It may surprise you just how reasonably priced a custom-made door can be. A shower door can be small enough to be an affordable piece of functional art.

You may find the perfect shower door for your project only to find it is too small to fit across the space you need to enclose. Many times you can extend the wall far enough to make the door fit. Framing out the wall and affixing the drywall is a relatively easy project, and is fairly inexpensive to hire a professional if it is beyond your skill level. Just make sure the cost of adding the extra wall doesn't take too much of an extra bite out of your budget. Remember that tiling can be very expensive - even for small areas. In addition, it is exceedingly difficult to match new tiles against ones already in the room. Unless you have surplus tiles left over from the original tiling project, you may want to avoid buying any shower doors that may require any tile work.

Buying a new shower door for your bathroom can be a fun project. Taking a little time to think about what door is right for you before heading to the store can save you time and aggravation - and perhaps some money.

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