Designing a Custom Shower Enclosure

Here are some tips for designing a shower enclosure.

planning a custom shower

Tip 1

Do not design curbs that approach buttresses at an angle. “Hinge Bind” may occur, making it impossible for the door to operate.

Always design curbs so that they approach buttresses at a 90-degree angle.

Very tall steam shower openings require a secondary piece of glass (transom), or the soffit can be framed lower to fill the gap.

glass shower secondary glass

Tip 2

Framed products over 78” tall require transoms. Frameless products over 84” tall require transoms.

shower planning seat and curbs

Tip 3

Follow these guidelines to ensure proper drainage and avoid future problems…

Pitch seats to shed water. Install pans below seats.

Pitch curbs INTO the enclosure to allow drainage. Best to use a slab.

glass shower enclosures angles

Tip 4

Use 135-degree angles whenever possible…

In most cases, you will save money.

glass showers angles

Tip 5

Shower soffits must plumb down precisely to the footprint of the lower curbs.

Failure to address this issue will produce disappointing results.

Efficient shower design

Tip 6

Never position body sprays opposite an enclosure door or other opening.

Always position body sprays so that they are directed towards tiled walls.

body sprays shower enclosure

Tip 7

Tempered glass panels cannot be manufactured in dimensions less than 3 ½“.

dimensions glass shower enclosure

Tip 8

If you are planning a frameless enclosure, DO NOT use raised, decorative tile on ANY part of the door swing area.

no raised tile glass showers

Tip 9


Drilling during the installation process inevitably results in cracking.

No glass tiles glass showers

Tip 10

Overhangs near door closings create PROBLEM GAPS, resulting in unsightly fillers, or worse…

A return visit from an irritated tile installer to remove the overhang.

Curb Pitch Guidelines

Tip 11

Curb Pitch Guidelines:

Out-pitched curb (top) spills water outwards onto the bathroom floor.

Dead-level curb (bottom) results in standing water… a sure catalyst for mold and mildew.

Over-pitched curb and ideal curb

Curb Pitch Guidelines:

Over-pitched curb (top) door gaskets bind or chafe,
resulting in premature wear.

Ideal curb (bottom)

A pitch between 3/16” and ¼ “ is ideal for shedding water back to the shower drain.

Plumb example

Tip 12

The face of any rise where a swing door closes should be perfectly plumb…

Otherwise, a costly pattern-cut door may be required.

Icicle Panel

Tip 13

A buttress wall or tub deck that ends with a small notch of glass results in a brittle “icicle” that may require a separate lite of glass (with and ugly seam) or a bulky metal build-over.

Yield NO LESS THAN 5” of finished tile to your frontal glass door or panels.

Notch in Tub Deck

Tip 14

When installing a frameless enclosure onto a marble or granite deck, overhangs up to ¾” can be notched with minimal risk of breakage.

When the overhang of a marble or granite tub deck exceeds ¾”, we suggest the use of a metal filler to build out and fill the gap go the shower enclosure.

Metal Filler

Tip 15

Rule #1: “Block it!”

Always provide wood blocking where doors hinge or panels are anchored, especially with metal studs.

Rule #2:

Never run plumbing pipe through studs where an anchoring screw may puncture it.

Enclosure design

Tip 16

When designing an enclosure that has a buttress wall, a notched door is a possible solution. A more practical approach is to use an in-line panel. These panels cannot be made less than 3 ½“ wide… so be sure to frame the buttress to include the extra width of the panel.

Possible and better door solution

Tip 17

No Channel! Groove Glass Mounting System:

Allow extra groove width for caulking (Ideally, add ¼” to glass thickness to allow 1/8” caulk joint on either side).
Never groove a wall or vertical area
Only groove where a panel is located, never groove for a door.

Plumb down alignment

Tip 18

Pitch seats and shower floor pans so the water flows to the drain area. Otherwise, stagnant water or puddling will occur. Pitch the curb sill under the door, on knee walls, and under all fixed panels approximately 3/16” towards the interior of the enclosure. It is best to use a continuous piece of marble or granite to minimize grout joints under the glass.

Continuous slab as a curb

Tip 19

Bellied, Bowed and Uneven Walls create inadvisable load on hinges and impede their grip on the glass. If gaskets are required, uneven walls may bind and cause premature wear on the gaskets. Extreme situations may warrant the use of a header and/or pivot hinges.

Exhaust fan location examples

Tip 20

A Transom Note:

Planning to have your shower door reach the ceiling? First, make sure the door won’t be hampered by anything installed on the ceiling when it swings open. If an exhaust fan, vent, or light fixture is placed in the path of the swinging door, a transom may be required to give the door clearance.

Tip for Knee-O-Angles

Tip 21

Tip for Knee-O-Angles:

If your neo angle shower enclosure includes a “knee” wall or wall, make sure that the shower door meets the structure at a 90-degree angle to accommodate the requirements of the hinges. This is not a restriction when glass meets glass at a 135-degree angle.

We hope these tips were helpful for you. If you need help with installing a glass shower enclosure or if you have any questions give us a call or fill out the form below!

Connect with the Glass Solutions Team Today!

Please call  919-772-1007 or fill out our form below.