Northwest Renovation Magazine

A Home Improvement Magazine

Nothing makes a bathroom stand out quite like a shower area that is a real work of art. You could have that look if you took the time, effort, and a modest amount of money to make it happen. The best part is that a quality shower doesn’t have to cost a lot.

This tub enclosure is made with ¼” glass, and because it has three sections it collapses down to a minimum of space when not in use.

The above shower enclosure is an example of 1/2 “ frameless glass and is strong, but very minimalistic.

This is an example of a wheelchair-friendly shower that is sloped so that there is no need for any drain except one in the center. Note that just a small amount of glass was necessary.

So how do you capture that “cool” look of a designer shower? It starts with a plan. You may have space problems. Having a small canvas to work with should not deter you. The solution is in the layout, use of materials, and quality of the fixtures and hardware. That is what really makes a shower pulsate with quality.

A shower or tub enclosure consists of some type of glass door(s) to keep the water contained. Curtains work, but glass does a better job of stopping leaks and is easier to clean.

Glass usually comes in four thicknesses: 3/16 “, 1/4”, 3/8”, and the very solid 1/2” glass. The most common glass thickness is 3/8”. Most people assume the thicker the glass the better, but that is not always the case. With a wide door, thick glass will be unwieldy and could put too much pressure on the hinges, which will lead to a future service call.

If you need a hinge, you’ll want it to be a good one. Don’t buy a piano style hinge, one with continuous rivets along its total length, or the pivot style that attaches only at the top and bottom. These will cause problems along the way. These types of hinges will not last as long as the continuous, concealed hinge or the wall mounted, self-centering hinge. The continuous hinge will last a long time and is a good choice for glass that is not too heavy. The wall mounted, self-centering hinge works great on the heavier, 3/8” and 1/2”, glass due to its design and strength.

The glass is a personal choice. First you choose your thickness; then you have to decide the type of glass you want: obscure, clear, or a pattern such as “Rain.” Clear is the most popular. With clear, you know when it’s clean. Scum can creep up on you with patterns. But patterns can brighten up your bath with style and art.

What good is a shower without a good splashing of water? If you are redoing the plumbing, be sure to install a high volume shower valve. This will guarantee you the best flow, even if you use a low volume shower head to save water.

What type of shower enclosure is best? Everyone has different needs and space constraints. In a large area, you can design the enclosure without a door if you place the shower head(s) in the right location(s). Not having a door is a huge plus because the hinges and latch will be the first components to go. For the rest of you, who don’t have that much room, get the best hinges and door you can.

Another thing to possibly consider is designing a shower room with wheelchair access in mind. Maybe you don’t need it now, but the “aging in place” concept is one that is here to stay. If possible, design your shower without a threshold. Not having that curb is very useful if you happen to grow older in your home and, if not, it adds to the resale value with all the aging Baby Boomers out there. You may need a linear drain on the floor under the door, but the extra planning and expense will be worth it in the future. A typical linear drain is 24 inches long and about three inches wide; it will keep water from draining into the bathroom.

However you design your shower space, it can be your design.  Make it your space to relax in, along with your own little waterfall. At A-Boy Electric & Plumbing, you can select the best shower and tub enclosures available. A-Boy has many finishes and styles to choose from and a wide selection of hardware, such as pulls and knobs. There are many finishes to choose from, such as oil rubbed bronze, pewter, or standard chrome. You can custom order the enclosure and A-Boy will have the factory-trained installers come out to measure, and do the work, with a lifetime guarantee for labor and materials.

A-Boy can make it very easy to have a designer shower. The materials available today are much better than in the past and, with a little planning, you can enjoy your shower for many years.

Dan Dolan is the owner of A-Boy Electric and Plumbing, a local chain of stores with three locations in Portland that specializes in hardware, garden, and plumbing solutions for the residential home. He can be reached at or visit

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