Commercial and Residential Glass Installer and Manufacturer Resource

Walk-in Glass Shower Design for Safety & Aesthetics

Jul 22, 2021 8:00:00 AM / by Greg Martell

walk-in shower

Nothing sets a bathroom apart like a custom glass shower enclosure. 

Sleek and modern, a glass enclosure is an upgrade to the traditional shower. 

As the bathroom is one of the last places you’d want to worry about safety, integrating glass into a shower enclosure’s design must be done carefully -- using the wrong glass type is dangerous. 

While there are many shower safety glasses on the market, there’s one type that meets safety concerns without making you sacrifice aesthetic choices

The Optimal Shower Safety Glass

When it comes to walk-in glass shower design that gives peace of mind, there’s only one choice: tempered glass

Among the strongest glasses available, tempered glass is made for enhanced safety performance -- an important consideration for showers where users are particularly vulnerable. 

During manufacturing, tempered glass sheets are heated to temperatures around 1000℉ and then quickly cooled under pressure. The rapid change in temperature causes both compression and tension within a glass sheet, making it up to 5x stronger than traditional glass. The tempering process also makes a glass surface more scratch resistant.  

Of note, shaping must occur before tempering. Heat-strengthened glass is extremely difficult to cut or prepare for hardware after processing. 

 

Building codes require tempered glass for shower enclosures and doors. Most glass manufacturers only sell tempered glass for these applications. 

Why?

In addition to its strength, tempered glass is much safer than traditional glass when broken. Upon shattering, tempered glass breaks into small, rounded pieces that aren’t as dangerous as jagged shards. 

A Word on Laminated Glass 

Yes, laminated glass is a safety glass that can also take a hit and not pose an immediate danger with broken pieces. Still, laminated glass is not recommended for shower enclosures. 

Laminated glass units aren’t a single piece of glass. Rather, they’re made by bonding at least two glass plies to a middle interlayer that’s typically vinyl. If not properly sealed or the right material, the interlayer begins to deteriorate from exposure to moisture, compromising laminated glass’s unless a special interlayer is used to inhibit moisture penetration. 

Commercial Glass Choices for Tempering 

Using tempered glass isn’t a limit to your shower glass design ideas. A glass treatment that’s applicable to many glass products, tempering helps you get the most from your shower enclosure. 

The most common tempered glasses used for transparent shower walls and doors include:  

  • Clear glass
  • Low-iron glass
  • Patterned glass
  • Coated glass

 

Clear Glass

Meeting your expectations for opacity, and boosted by improved strength, clear (standard) glass simply gets the job done. Made for functionality, clear glass keeps water from making its way outside a shower enclosure. 

Color is an important design consideration when using this material in safety glass shower panels/doors. Clear glass does have a slight greenish tint that becomes more pronounced in thicker pieces -- you’ll especially notice it when looking at a pane’s edges. 

Before tempering, your manufacturer can upgrade the appearance of clear glass via other glass fabrication techniques, such as:

Low-Iron Glass

For those wanting to eliminate color from shower enclosure glass, look no further than low-iron glass

Unlike clear glass, low-iron glass is virtually colorless. The only colors you’ll notice in this glass are those it picks up along its edges from the surrounding environment, e.g. the hues of wall tiles. In other words, because of its proximity to other elements of a bathroom with color, you will notice some color along a low-iron glass piece’s periphery. 

Made from materials containing trace amounts of ferric oxide (iron), low-iron glass is also about 8% more transparent than standard glass. When integrated into bathroom design, low-iron glass doesn’t interfere with an overall aesthetic. Rather, it acts as an almost invisible barrier for shower and tub enclosures. 

Patterned Glass 

Taking appearances in a different direction, patterned glass creates a unique focal point in a bathroom or obscures the view into a shower with its design. Some patterned glasses offer a textured appearance, while others bend light to distort transparency.

Not all patterned glasses are temperable -- talk to your glass manufacturer about the available options. 

Some of the most common patterned glasses used in shower enclosures include:

At New Angle Beveling, we stock a wide variety of patterned glasses. Check out our available selection: 

Patterned Glass Comparison Sheet 

Coated Glass

Coated glasses, such as ShowerGuard® products, are designed to take the performance of shower glass to the next level. 

An invisible coating bonded onto the inward-facing side of the panel provides protection from:

  • Soap scum
  • Hard water 
  • Minerals
  • Cleaning products

The coating, which doesn’t degrade, keeps shower glass looking as it did the day it was installed. 

Maintaining Shower Safety Glass 

Just as a glass shower enclosure makes a bathroom stand out, a lack of upkeep does the opposite. 

Water spots, stains, and mineral buildup can take a glass shower enclosure from appearing transparent and sanitary to dirty, dingy, and unappealing. 

Glass is one of the easiest materials to clean, as any build-up is only surface-level. 

By using standard glass-cleaning products, such as sprays with ammonia or bleach, and a wet sponge or microfiber cloth, anyone can quickly restore shower glass to its original appearance. Before applying a cleaning product to your custom shower enclosure, double-check to make sure it’s approved for glass. Using the wrong type of cleaner can be a costly mistake. 

For those looking for a chemical-free alternative, a mixture of vinegar and water can do the trick. 

To avoid scratching or damaging shower enclosure glass -- or even a shower’s hardware -- steer clear of:

  • Abrasive cleaning products, such as bleach powders 
  • Hydrofluoric and phosphoric acids
  • Brushes
  • Scouring pads

ShowerGuard glass is as easy to clean as other shower enclosure glasses. Download our guide about how to maintain ShowerGuard glass:

Download our care and cleaning guide

Walk-in Glass Shower Design Without Compromise

As a major investment for any bathroom, a custom glass shower enclosure shouldn’t be cause for worry or a source of frustration because of frequent upkeep. 

Because tempering is applicable to many commercial glass types, creating a glass shower enclosure that’s safe, easily maintained, and meets a desired aesthetic doesn’t require making sacrifices. 

Order tempered glass for your custom shower enclosure. 

Contact us to discuss your project and how we can help!

Contact New Angle Beveling

Topics: Custom Glass, Shower Enclosures, Coated glass, Low-iron glass

Written by Greg Martell