Selections for a Heavy Glass Shower Door (Avoiding Leaks and Damage)

Purchasing a Heavy Glass Frame-less Shower Door

There’s one way to finish off a Custom Tile Shower with style and that would be with a heavy glass frame-less shower door.  You just can’t find a better solution.  A heavy glass door has to be measured up after the tile installation is complete, so that all measurements are exact.  Sometimes a wall may be leaning out a touch so the glass can be cut at the factory to fit that specific plane.

Because of the additional weight of the glass, specialized brackets and hinges are ordered to mount the panels and operate the pivot doors smoothly.  Fixed panels will sit inside a thin-line aluminum track on the shower curb and this is where problems can occur so we take extra measures to ensure there’s no issues in the future.

There’s plenty of glass installation companies out there that only seem to care about their portion of the work and fail to realize that they may be causing harm elsewhere…  These problems all happen when they mount brackets or tracks to shower curbs.  Although there’s a few different installation measures, there are some things that we don’t allow to happen on our glass installations.

Drilling into a curb should NEVER happen.  There are bottom mounted pivot hinges that will secure the bottom portion of door by drilling a hole into the curb.  Alongside that, some companies will mount the bottom of a fixed panel with a clamp hinge that gets screwed down into the curb as well.  Just so you know, those are two parts that will cause failure – within a few years.  Drilling into a curb will puncture the waterproofing membranes.  Although they may be filled with silicone, water laying on a flat surface will eventually work its way through the curb, subfloor etc… This is when wood and framing will rot and mushrooms will grow out of the grout joints.

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While on the topic, there are a few things to be aware of if you are a homeowner that is GC’ing your own project…  I’ve been in those situations where a homeowner wishes to purchase all of their own products and with a shower especially, it’s best to have your contractor supply all of the products and arrange for glass installation.  You’ll find that saving money is not particularly an option if a glass installation company is either unaware or simply does not care about how the shower is waterproofed.  On the front side (in these situations) I add to my contracts that drilling in a curb of mine will void the warranty.

On a project from 2013, I had this happen where a homeowner supplied their products through my regular supplier…  From the start, I made all parties aware (homeowner and supplier) that drilling in the curb will be unacceptable to mount shower glass.  The third party glass installation company, that has installed other doors for me, already knows my policy on the subject.  In short, the supplier and the glass installation company failed to follow instruction and decided to do it their own way.  Since the glass was not a part of my contract, there’s no say in the matter on my end but below you will see a photo of a pivot hing bracket with a screws in the shower curb.

heavy glass shower door with curb mounted hinge plate

Drilling into a shower curb is a NO-NO!

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Instead of using curb mounted brackets and hinges,  I would normally spec a thin line track for the bottom of a fixed panel.  Double sided tape and silicone sealant (plus the added weight of the panel) will hold everything into place.  Clamp hinges are set a few inches from the top and bottom of the panel (or wall) and they will hold just fine as long as there’s sufficient blocking behind the tile wall surround.  No need to worry about that because I always make sure it’s loaded up with studs.

If there’s a neo-angle shower door with a center door, the fixed panel on the hinge side will have to be mounted down because of the weight and stress on the end of the fixed panel.  This is a good time to use a thick granite or quartz curb topper because then you can still drill into the curb but NOT the whole way through.  I drill down far enough to set a pin into the material and then set the aluminum track with glue and a short screw.  Since Granite or a product like Cambria Quartz is over an inch thick, we can easily do this without puncturing through, both the material and/or the waterproofing membrane.

Looking back on this article, I’ve mentioned the words “failure” and “never” too many times.  They are negative words…  but taking my advice on this topic will leave you with positive results.

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