What is a Semi-Frameless Shower Door?

shower doors
When creating the bathroom of your dreams, you’ve got a lot of options. Perhaps no area is quite as pivotal to the overall bathroom appearance and experience as your shower and shower door designs.

Because of this, it’s essential to get to know the differences in appeal, function, and value between framed, frameless, and semi-frameless custom glass shower doors.

While the names themselves provide a decent sense of what to expect from each design, there are some key distinctions that can be made from one to the other.

For example, some glass shower enclosure options work better at keeping water in the shower or lowering the possibility of mold and mildew buildup.

Regardless of the type that you ultimately land on as your own, though, it’s important to have a solid grasp of the features and benefits of each model. With this information in hand, you can approach your bathroom redesign with the confidence and knowledge needed to execute your vision exactly as you have in mind.

Follow along below as we go through the many advantages and differences between framed shower enclosures, frameless showers, and semi-frameless shower doors. Whatever aesthetic or functionality you’re looking for, there is absolutely a glass shower door option that fits your style and budget at the same time.

What Is a Framed Shower Door?

If you’re in the process of a bathroom remodel, there’s a pretty strong chance that you’ve already encountered a framed shower enclosure. Popular around the world for their versatility and generally low price tags, framed glass shower doors provide a strong anchor for the shower without making any compromises on aesthetics.

Simply put, this variety of shower enclosure has metal framing affixed around the whole piece, including the door itself. This creates a “frame” for the enclosure, much like you’d see around a painting or printed photo, hence the name.

Framed shower doors come in a wide array of styles and materials, but in general they will all have transparent glass surrounded and enclosed by a metal framing of some kind. The frame paneling itself is usually made of aluminum or from a composite material.

On the downside, with framed enclosures, you do have a somewhat increased risk of moisture buildup beneath the shower door’s seals, which can become a breeding ground for mildew and mold, if given enough time and saturation.

Cleaning around and under framed glass shower doors isn’t necessarily more difficult than other the options here, but it does need to happen consistently to prevent mold or mildew from becoming an issue in the first place.

shower doors
shower doors

What Is a Frameless Shower Door?

Much like framed enclosures, frameless shower enclosures are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Where the framed option has metal mounted all around the glass, these actually do not have any metal framing at all.

Instead, the frameless glass shower pieces are fixed to each other with adhesive sealant (with the exception of frameless sliding doors, which roll on tracks). This does a decent job of keeping water from spilling through the glass while also creating a seamless effect throughout, though some water may make it out of the shower area at times.

A benefit of frameless shower door models is that they usually come with custom glass. This means that you don’t have to choose something standard that might be in millions of other bathrooms across the country.

Because of this, you gain a certain amount of personal aesthetic choice in your bathroom’s shower installation. Truth be told, customers that favor customization over other features very often opt for completely frameless shower doors instead of one with some amount of metal framing.

Another advantage of frameless models is that they tend to minimize the area where moisture can pool, resulting in fewer spots where mold can spread unabated in the shower. This also makes them much easier to clean than framed doors.

Further, while any style can be used as sliding doors, frameless shower doors look especially beautiful when utilized in this way, enhancing the look and feel of the clean lines and overall seamless nature of the design.

One downside to frameless shower doors is functionality, as there may be some space between glass panels. As mentioned above, this might entail a bit of water spillage in the bathroom from time to time (though nothing a good bath mat can’t fix).

For others, the issue with frameless enclosures actually comes by way of the aforementioned customization opportunity: cost. Due to its custom nature, many frameless glass panels for showers come with a significantly higher price tag than the models that do contain frames.

If you’re looking for something with a minimum of materials and place a high premium on clean lines, then a frameless door would be a good option to consider for your shower.

What Is a Semi-Frameless Shower Door?

In the middle of the above two shower door options, we have a third class of doors that many people enjoy for its visual appeal, design flexibility, and overall affordability. This is the semi-frameless shower door, and it comes in handy in many different bathroom design styles.

Like framed shower doors, semi-frameless shower enclosures do have some metal framing along the glass, but, also like frameless shower enclosures, they have an important distinction: the metal does not ensconce the whole shower door, opening up the shower to the naked eye (no pun intended).

Instead, any attached metal sits in place mostly for simple, functional purposes. This has the benefit of controlling water drip at the bottom of the shower door, among other things.

shower doors

You might say that semi-frameless enclosures are the “Goldilocks” of shower door options (not too much frame, not too little). They often have a somewhat thicker glass than the others and a more distinguishable frame, but it also creates an open, full view of the interior design of your shower, including the tiling and showerhead.

While frameless showers offer the cleanest look and framed doors are usually the least expensive, semi-frameless shower enclosures are an intermediate option for your bathroom if the other two aren’t exactly right for you.

Which Shower Door Is Best for Me?

As you might have guessed, there is no one “Best” shower enclosure. Each of the three above options have pros and cons that will apply to different homeowners, depending largely on the nature, size, and design of their bathroom.

That being said, two primary considerations exist that you might want to keep in mind when choosing your shower door.

First of all, think about the look you’re trying to achieve. If you want something that provides an anchor of sorts to your bathroom, then you might want to look for a framed enclosure.

On the other hand, for those wanting to create a seamless and clear aesthetic, frameless shower doors probably provide the most suitable option.

Down the middle of the road, you can go with the semi-frameless shower door. This essentially offers the best of both worlds in appearance.

The second major consideration concerns cost. Due to their often customized nature, frameless shower doors usually come in with the highest price tags.

At the other end of the spectrum are the framed varieties. Because they can be mass-produced on a very large scale, they can also be sold at much lower costs than framed glass enclosures.

Again, semi-frameless shower doors live right there in the middle of the pack. Here’s where you can potentially get the most bang for your buck, so it is certainly something to keep in mind.

Where Can I Get Help Choosing a Shower Enclosure?

No matter what type of bathroom or aesthetic you have in mind, at Century Glass we have highly trained specialists that can help you sort through the many options and pick something that complements your design perfectly from start to finish.

We have framed, frameless, and semi-frameless glass shower door options to choose from, and we work with skilled, local designers on each and every one to ensure that everything is tailored just for you.

Come on down to our showrooms to see all the options in person. We have three convenient South Carolina locations, two in Columbia and another in Charleston, so we’re never too far away.

To get started on your journey, just give us a call or send us a message through our website. We can’t wait to help you find the glass shower doors of your dreams.

Call the Glass Experts at Century Glass

Century Glass is the glass company you can count on. We have a team of glass professionals who can assist you with your windshield, shower door, and home glass needs. We understand reliability and convenience are key. Our customers enjoy not just clearer glass, but see life’s moments more clearly.

Call us today at:
Columbia: 803-256-8134
Northeast Columbia: 803-699-2342
Charleston: 843-614-4628

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