When designing a heavy glass shower enclosure (using 3/8" or 1/2" glass), you have the choice of using aluminum channels or clips where the glass meets the wall.
If you're doing a large hotel project and time is of the essence, we recommend using channels instead of clips. By using channels, you have some wiggle-room during the installation. With clips, your glass measurements need to be dead-on.
No shower is water-tight. Our best analogy is like selecting an automobile. You might select a good quality American or Japanese vehicle which is pleasant to look at and a great day to day driver, or you can select a truly exotic Italian sports car, which is breathtaking to behold but perhaps not quite as practical. It's the same with shower enclosures. Sliding enclosures and framed swing doors do a great job at keeping as much of the splashed water in your shower. Heavy Glass and Cast Glass have gaps that can allow a little splashed water to escape your enclosure. Here's a run-through of our enclosures.
Sliding Door Enclosures
All of our sliding door enclosures, including the Craftsman, Cardinal, Euro and Apollo series all provide the same level of water-escape protection. The shingling effect on the two doors, as well as deep channels and a sloped bottom rail all help to keep water in the shower.
Craftsman, Cardinal and Uptown Swing Doors
These units feature magnetic catches and sloped channels at the bottom of the door and do a great job helping to seep water in the shower.
TruFit and Heavy Glass Swing Doors
These enclosures use 3/8" heavy glass panels with no door jamb. There is typically a 1/8" gap on either side of the door, as well as a gap under the door. These are places where splashed water may escape the shower. Generally, it's a small amount. Of course, if you point your shower head at the gap, the water will, of course, pour right out of the shower. The balance is that it provides a more open look with less metal on your shower.
There are vinyl extrusions that can go between the door and panel, vinyl wipes that can go at the bottom of the door, between the door and wall, and so forth. These help to keep water in the shower, but there is a small visual trade off. We leave it up to the customer to determine how much or little vinyl they would like around their shower door. These can usually be added after installation if the customer changes their mind.
It is extremely important for TruFit and Heavy Glass units that the sill under the door slope into the shower. If it is perfectly level under a swing door (for example, on a basic tub), water that flows down the door will pool under the door and drain both in and out of the enclosure. We offer a dam strip (a shallow oval extrusion), that can be installed to help keep water from flowing out of the shower, but splashed water may still escape.
The Skyline enclosure features one sliding door and one fixed panel. The gap between the door and panel is larger than on a typical slider because the 3/4" rod that the doors slide on is between the panel and door, leaving a little over 1" gap. We offer a vinyl extrusion that can go between them, but it's a question of form vs. function. Again, if this unit is installed on a tub and the tub sill doesn't slope back into the tub, water can leak out of the enclosure. The dam strip can help some, but it's best if the sill slopes back into the tub.
Cast Glass Enclosures
The cast glass and Ultimate Optique glass is our most stunning glass option. Nothing compares with its rich texture. As such, because of the variations in the glass created by the casting process, generally there is more of a 1/8" gap around the door as opposed to the 1/16" gap on standard heavy glass units. Because of the texture generally you can't add vinyl door jamb or door sweeps because they just wouldn't fit on the edge of the glass. You need to consider too the shower head location. it's better if the shower head points sideways to the door as opposed to directly at the door.
(Author's note: I have a cast glass enclosure in my master bath. For us, as it is with the vast majority of our clients, a little water escaping our shower is not a big deal. I wouldn't let a two year old in there free to point the detachable shower nozzle any direction they pleased, but day to day for us it's OK. We know, for example, not to leave an iPhone just outside the gap.)
So, it depends on your goal. If an extremely beautiful shower is your goal, cast glass is the answer. If you've got hardwood bathroom floors and are really concerned with water escaping, perhaps a sliding door or a Craftsman or Cardinal series enclosure is right for you.
We recommend the use of adjustable hinges over fixed hinges in commercial applications. Within the hinge there are adjustment screws to fine-tune where the hinge centers. This will allow the installer to quickly compensate for any slightly off-angle tile installations.
If you're creating a steam unit, you'll want to include an operable transom to vent out the steam. Traditionally, this is put in over the door, as in the "CLIPS" picture above. However, you can also include the transom within the door or other shower enclosure panel. This can be done with any type of glass unit, from clear and patterned glass, to our Venetian Cast Glass as shown on the right.
With today's precise glass cutting methods, you can also do something even more creative, such as a fleur-de-lis shaped operable transom.
You can take the existing glass patterns and dramatically change the look of an enclosure by using the glass off-vertical. For example, we set up what we called an Angled Reed slider unit. We took the Narrow Reed glass, and cut it 15° off vertical in opposite directions on this tub slider. Mix and match cast glass colors and patterns to get a cellar door, or work with us to design a custom pull over ten feet tall!