12 Important Design Tips for Custom Glass Shower Enclosures

You’ve finally made the decision – it’s time to upgrade your out-of-date shower with a new custom glass enclosure! Be prepared to see your bathroom in a whole new light, with more open space and a modern look! Before you get started, though, you will want to make yourself familiar with the aesthetic touches you want and the structural elements you’ll need to ensure maximum functionality and impact. After years of providing custom glass for frameless shower enclosures for customers in Raleigh and across the Triangle, we’ve seen several contractor mistakes and oversights that can upend your project. You don’t need to become an expert on the matter, but understanding the fundamentals can help ensure that the contractor you choose is building your new enclosure the right way.

Tip 1: Angles to Use

Plan for your shower to be built using 90°, 135°, or 180° angles. Most shower hardware is designed to accommodate these angles, so planning ahead can help guarantee the enclosure will function correctly and remain cost-effective.

Tip 2: Support For Shower Doors and Hardware

Make sure the wall where you plan to install your hinged door has the proper studding support behind it. Doubled 2x4s is best, but a single 2×4 will work. Additionally, provide wood studs or blocking where doors hinge or panels are anchored, especially if metal studs were using in the original construction of the wall.

Tip 3: Shower Curb

Do you want to install your shower enclosure on a curb, or would you rather have it flush with the floor? Eliminating the curb can be beneficial to planning a handicap-accessible shower enclosure, but the curb can help prevent water from leaking or pooling on the floor of your bathroom.

Tip 4: Slope of Curb

Typically, curbs are sloped at a 5-degree slope to enable the water to flow toward the drain. Without this slope – sometimes referred to as the “pitch” – the curb would have standing water on top or could leak water onto the bathroom floor.

Tip 5: Slope of Shower Seat

If you are considering a built-in shower seat, make sure that the seat slants toward the drain at a 5-degree slope. This allows water to flow off of the seat and into the drain.

Tip 6: Plumb Walls

In order to prevent gaps, uneven joints, and hinge “bind”, any wall that meets a door or glass panel must be precisely vertical (also called “plumb”). If the wall is more than ¼” out of plumb, it will be both prone to leak and be unsightly.

Tip 7: Minimum Width of Glass Panels

Each glass panel should be at least 4½” wide, which is the minimum width for tempering glass and supporting the hardware. The door must be at least 22” wide but no more than 36” wide.

Tip 8: Glass Tiles

When designing your shower enclosure, avoid any plans that involve mounting door hinges and glass clips onto the glass tiles. These situations often cause breakage, adding time and expense to your new enclosure.

Tip 9: Soffits

The eaves along the top of your shower are called “soffits”. In order to avoid an uneven look, your soffits must line up perfectly with the angles in the curb below.

Tip 10: Shower Head Position

Insider tip: If possible, make sure to position your showerhead toward tiled walls or fixed panels. This minimizes leakage. Whatever you do, never place your showerhead opposite another door or opening unless you have a low-flow showerhead or one that points straight down to the floor.

Tip 11: Raised Tiles and Overhangs

It is the goal of any professional installation to ensure that nothing interferes with the door’s movement and leave no gaps between the door and the wall. This situation can often arise with raised decorative tiles or overhanging tiles, but these can be modified to allow for proper door usage. You should note, however, this is sometimes done using filler, which may negatively impact the look of the finished product.

Tip 12: Curb Tops

Solid pieces of tile, marble, and granite are ideal for the curb top. Tiled curb tops increase the chance of a leak, and can lead to mildew or mold down the line. The shower door seal functions best on a solid, smooth surface.


At Glass Depots, we pride ourselves in offering the best custom glass showers in Raleigh. Contact the Glass Depots team today to learn more!