Shower Door Glass

There are a vast variety of the glasses that can be used in shower doors. Every year glass manufactures are coming out with new patterns and new colors. But yet the most popular kinds of glass are clear, low-iron (Starfire), antique, green, blue, grey, bronze, acid-etched, reeded, rain and bubble. Clear glass – just a regular glass. Almost like one you have in the window.

Low-Iron or Starfire – it is an extra clear glass, with low content of iron in it.  And when you look at that glass from the side you almost don’t see greenish tint in it. But bigger the lite of glass greener it will show.

Green, Blue, Gray, and Bronze – they speak for themselves, do they? They are just colored glass – green is green, Blue is – well… blue. Gray is- sort of Grayish and Bronze – is brownish… Antique – is little bit yellowish glass  with imperfections , like rough surface, air bubbles and scratches… it is not completely transparent – it’s an attempt to replicate low quality glass that use to be manufactures  centuries ago. Acid-etched glass – it is a glass with one or both faces (double sided acid-etched) washed with special acid that melts glass and sealed. After such washing it becomes milky, non transparent.

Reeded glass – has a ribs, the picture shows it well

Rain glass – look just like a window glass with lot of raindrops on it, Bubble glass – as it says in its name, lot of bubble. Now, all this names and pictures are giving you a general idea. But every one of those names has a few variations of it. Like the acid-etched glass – it can be heavy acid-etched, light acid-etched, double sided acid-etched, or even a low iron acid-etched glass. Confusing?

Well, if you are interested in a shower door with some obscure glass, that will hide you there, then you may just require an acid-etched glass. But, for example, if you are trying to match shower door glass with the shades of the glass on the light fixtures next to it – then you have to have to call your shower door supplier and talk with them. Many of them will provide you with samples of glass, they can get their hand on, and you can choose from there.

Don’t expect that is going to be exact same match, but you will be able to get something really close and acceptable. Now, let’s talk a little bit about what king of glass it possible to use in shower door business. Not the texture or color, but the glass itself. There are actually four types of glass in general. Annealed glass – the one that is in your windows. It brakes easily and when it brakes it gives large chunks of glass that may cause a very severe even lethal damage.

The other type of glass is laminated. It is a pretty much a two sheet of annealed glass with a sticky film in between. This glass also breaks easily, but when it brakes the chunks of glass stay on the sticky film and don’t harm people. A good example of laminated glass – car windshield.  If hit with a pebble – it gives a spider web like cracks. Third type of glass is tempered glass – this is regular annealed glass that was heated to a certain temperature and then cooled down fast. That makes outer layers of glass molecules to compress – and creates glass that is generally much stronger than annealed glass.

The big sheet so glass on shopping malls, all the guardrails – all of them are tempered glass. Another great thing about tempered glass is when it breaks it breaks into a mall – dice like particles that are not lethal to humans. They still can harm you and I know that on my own skin – but mostly it will by just scratches and minor cuts.  There is another type of glass – called heat strengthens glass which is something in between annealed glass and tempered. It is strong to some extend and when broken gives a somewhat smaller chunks than annealed glass. Now the question is what king of glass you can and can’t use in shower door business? Annealed glass – no, no and no!

Why? Picture this- shower, soap, feet, slippery floor, and broken glass – lots of blood. So, no annealed glass in shower door business. Laminated glass – a-a-a-a…. I don’t know…. From safety and codes points of view it is acceptable and safe to use. What bothers me is the lamination. The water and the soap are the most universal dissolvent on the planet. One is created by nature and the other one by man. Exposing the laminated glass to that chemically active environment is… going to delaminate that laminated glass soon or later. Rather soon than later. So if you don’t have any other choice – then do it.

But don’t expect the shower door to serve you long. Most probably in few years you will need to replace glass or too. But then I should add that, there are some companies out there and installers that know how to work with laminated glass and make sure it will last as long as it possible. So… that is why i am hesitant to use laminated glass in shower. Heat strengthened glass – no. Just as an annealed glass – that glass is not suitable for shower doors. 

Which leave us with the only choice – tempered glass? It is absolutely perfect for shower doors. It’s strong, it’s taught and, if broken, it will not cause a lethal damage. How to find out what king of glass was used for a shower door? Well that is easy – every glass in shower shower; panel or door, must have a tempering logo on it. Somewhere on the bottom or top corner there will be an etched stamp with “tempered” word on it. It may look like this – or may be different, but there will be one for sure. If you did not find any stamps, then the glass is laminated.

And as a conclusion to this topic few words abut thickness of the glass too. It entirely depends on the particular application. But most shower doors will come in 1/4”, 3/8” or 1/2” glass. Sometimes, we get quote requests for a shower door in 5/8” or ¾” glass…. First of all, the 99% of shower door fittings- hinges and handles and channels are for up to ½” thick glass. And ½ glasses is sufficient for anything you would like to build in your bathroom. You have no need to go any heaver than that.