A framed or “semi-frameless” shower enclosure consists of framed glass panels suspended from an aluminum header. The framed shower door is the “work horse” of the shower door industry. While losing a bit of the Wow factor, these shower doors can still be elegant and increase the value of your home. The aluminum however is subject to hard water damage. Bathing Beauties recommends the use of Rain-Ex on all interior surfaces of the shower doors we install. If maintained properly both framed and semi-frameless units will last many years.
A frameless shower enclosure is made of up to 1/2" tempered and polished safety glass. It is strong enough to use very little metal and therefore needs no frame. Typically the only metal used is to secure the panels to a wall, this usually in the form of solid brass hinges and clamps. A system called wet glazing is used to create a water tight seal between the glass panel and the wall. This is then usually finished off with a clear or translucent sweep at the bottom of the glass door.
The brass hinges and clamps for frameless shower doors are available in a multitude of finishes: chrome, brushed nickel, brass, oil rubbed bronze, etc.
Ordinary glass is prone to damage and aging from hard water, soap, humidity and more. But ShowerGuard glass is extraordinary. It's an entirely new and different kind of glass that's protected during manufacturing with a patented ion beam process. This technology permanently seals the glass surface, for a shower that stays beautiful forever with just a minimal amount of cleaning.
Shower Guard though costly, dramatically reduces cleaning time. Many people who squeegee every time they take a shower for fear of hard water stains, can now throw the squeegee away and relax. A simple wipe down / polish with a towel once or twice a week is one way to keep the glass clean and like new. If anything begins to stick, a quick once-over with a wet cloth and some glass cleaner will remove any minerals that have adhered to the surface. Both frameless and framed shower doors are available with Shower Guard, however the hinges, framing and seals are obviously not protected with this method.
Rain-ex is a silicone based product that has been on the market for 2 decades and is an economical alternative to Shower Guard. When applied, Rain-Ex fills the pores of the glass to prevent build up of hard water stains and soap scum. Using a squeegee after every shower will also help to keep your frameless shower doors clean and fresh. Rain-ex can also be used on the brass hinges and the aluminum frame of your shower doors. It will need to be re-applied approximately every 6 to 8 months, but at five dollars per tube it is well worth the extra work.