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How to Properly Install Tile for a Frameless Shower Door

I’m not a tile guy, I only have to deal with people that call themselves tile guys. You see I’m a shower door guy and if the tile guy does his job correctly I never get meet them. Oh, but when they do a poor job then we get to meet, usually when we call to the attention of the home owner the problem.

Two common issues we see:

One – Tile not set with enough thin set thus voids or whole spaces under tile and not strong enough to support door hinge mounting. I have customers constantly tell me that other shower door companies will not install a door if there is not a stud under the tile where the door is hanging. The truth is is that if the tile is done correctly and proper anchors are used this is not a problem. The bigger problem is that if the tile is not correctly adhered to the backer board then your wall will fall apart once a heavy frameless door is hung on it.

Two – Curb sloped to the outside of shower or NOT to the drain. This may sound like common sense, but we see it on about 20% of the jobs we measure. So, if your frameless shower door is leaking, check the slope of the curb, is it sloping to the drain? If your garage door was leaking would you blame the door guy or the concrete guy that sloped your driveway to the house?   REMEMBER, ALWAYS CHECK THE SLOPE WHEN INSPECTING TILE WORKMANSHIP.

Consider This Before You Buy Shower Doors

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Never Ending Choices

There are numerous choices of shower doors and enclosures offered in a variety of prices. Whether you’re adding a new shower or upgrading an existing one, you’ll be making decisions on what to purchase. What style? What is involved in the care and maintenance? Do you want the hardware to match the rest of the room or contrast? Are there code requirements I need to know? Is the drain in the right place for the glass I want? How long will it take to get the glass installed? Do you want clear, frosted, etched, a color picture or patterned glass? Do you want towel bars and/or hooks on the glass? What is the cost? The list of questions can go on and on.

What Are Frameless Doors?

A frameless shower unit uses tempered glass (3/8″ to 1/2″ thick) which does not require the support of steel around the outside edges. Frameless doors and enclosures do include some metal for clips and hinges and when a U-channel is used. The result is a clean modern look. Frameless shower doors are popular because they allow beautiful tiles and flooring styles to be seen and allow natural light to shine through. Clear glass shower enclosures make a bathroom feel larger and add elegance.

What Are Semi-Frameless Shower Doors?

When you want the appearance of a frameless shower enclosure but your design and/or budget limit you, semi-frameless shower glass can be a great choice. The difference between a frameless and semi-framed is the semi-framed will have the metal header bar across the top of the enclosure, three edges of the doors will be framed and the bottom will be framed.

What Are Framed Shower Doors?

There are a lot of very nice versions of durable framed shower doors due to sturdy lightweight aluminum mounting with stamina and support. All edges of the glass are framed. The tempered glass is thinner and weighs less in framed shower glass because the metal provides the needed strength.

Who Installs Shower Doors and Glass Enclosures?

Glass shower doors and enclosures can be installed by homeowners (depending on their skills) or glazier professionals. The shower enclosure will need to be measured after construction and tile work are completed. The measurements need to be as accurate as possible to ensure the fit when the installation occurs and to prevent as much water leakage as possible. The measurements are needed to have the glass manufactured. Tempered glass cannot be drilled or cut because it will shatter into small pieces. When a person is not completely confident in their skills, it is always best to hire a professional.

How to Clean the Plastic Sweep on a Glass Shower Door

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Even when the glass is clean, there can be soap scum and build up underneath and on the plastic sweep. Follow the instructions below to clean the sweep.

  • To remove the plastic sweep, grasp one end and pull down.
  • Spray a few squirts of glass cleaner or dish soap on it and scrub with a cleaning brush. Rinse it off and repeat if necessary.
  • Clean the shower glass if needed.
  • Put the sweep back on the glass by placing one end on the glass and pushing up into place across the length of the sweep.
  • If the sweep is beyond cleaning, purchase a new sweep and install it using the last two steps above.

How to Hang a Towel Bar on a Frameless Shower Door

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At first glance, installing an additional towel bar on an existing frameless glass shower door might look impossible. The holes required to mount towel bars, handles and hooks are created during fabrication of the glass panels. Tempered glass cannot be cut or drilled because it will shatter into small pieces. You can, however, install a towel bar which attaches to glass surfaces using suction cups.

Towel bars with suction cups are a convenient alternative to traditionally mounted towel bars. The suction cups attach to tile, glass and other smooth surfaces. They are practical for use on glass shower doors. They are available in a wide variety of styles, sizes and finishes.

Because a suction cups are easy to remove, location of the bar is not critical. If you are not happy with where you put it the first time – you detach it and reinstall it somewhere else. Either side of the shower door is a suitable location. You should place the bar on the side providing the most functionality and reduces the chances of it hitting a wall or other hard surface when the door is opened.

Selecting the Right Towel Bar

Suction cup holding power will vary. Top-of-the-line suction cup bars have levers that significantly increase the suction when utilized. Obviously, the less expensive suction cup towel bars will not have the holding power of higher-end models. You can increase the holding power by applying to clean dry glass. A suction cup-mounted towel ring might be a better alternative for doors that open next to a wall or for smaller bathrooms.


Before installing the suction cupped towel bar, first clean the glass door thoroughly. Use a mixture of vinegar and hot water or any glass cleaner. After the door has dried, attach the towel bar in place by pressing the suction cups against the glass. Lock down the suction cups using the lever if the device is so equipped.

How to Replace a Shower Door Sweep

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The sweep on your shower door helps to keep the water inside the shower. If it fails, water and soapy residue may leak onto your bathroom floor. Water leaks are never good for a home, but if the floor is tiled, water lying on the surface also makes it dangerous. Imagine turning off the water, opening the door, and stepping out onto a hard slippery floor surface. This is why it is important to replace the gasket as soon as you realize it is not serving its purpose.

  1. Purchase the right size of shower door sweep. Measure the thickness of the glass. When you purchase the sweep, check it is compatible with the thickness of glass in your shower door. Check also it is long enough for the shower door. It does not matter if it is too long as it can easily be cut, but it must not be too short.
  2. Establish whether the sweep is held in its channel by adhesive, or by a combination of adhesive and screws. If screws are present, remove them with a screwdriver before carefully scraping as much adhesive off the glass as possible with a putty knife.
  3. Grasp one end of the gasket and carefully free it from the shower door.
  4. Cut the new gasket to the correct length by measuring it against the old one. Lay both on the floor. Place the end of the new gasket against the end of the old one. Make a mark with a felt tip pen on the new gasket, at the point where the old one ends. Cut off the excess length of new gasket with scissors, being careful to keep the edge straight.
  5. Wash the area of the shower door around the sweep with soapy water until it is clean. Rinse thoroughly and make sure it is completely dry.
  6. If the new sweep has adhesive, remove the strip that covers adhesive on the back of the new sweep. Carefully position it. If there is a track for the sweep on the shower door, make sure you properly insert the new sweep into it. Replace any screws you removed to take off the old sweep.

Tip & Warning

  • If you own a dry vapor steam cleaner, you can use it to clean the bottom of the shower door before placing the new sweep in position. These machines do not use detergents, so there’s no danger of residue affecting the tackiness of the adhesive.
  • Give the sweep a bit of time to become secure in its new position, otherwise it may become loose, and allow water to leak from the shower cubicle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to Replace the Handle on a Frameless Glass Shower Door

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Replacing knobs, hooks, handles or pulls on frameless shower glass is a simple project that can be completed in minutes. Unlike installing pulls or handles on wooden cabinets, inner and outer handles are aligned to predrilled installation holes in the door, then attached to each other. Handle, pull, hook or knob kits include screws and sometimes gaskets that are placed between the handle and glass to prevent leaking. Handles must be selected with the same installation-hole spacing as the original handle.

  1. Remove the old shower door handle with a screwdriver. Typically two or more screws, installed on the inner handle, hold the two pieces of the handle together with the glass door sandwiched between them.
  2. Inspect and note the differences between the inner and outer shower door handles. The outer handle has a smooth finish. The inner shower-door handle typically has one or two screw holes.
  3. Orient the outer handle to its functioning position on the outer surface of the shower door. Align the shafts of the handle with the predrilled holes in the glass door.
    Depending on the handle kit, you may need to place small rubber washers on the ends of the shafts of the handles before screwing them together.
  4. Position the inner handle on the inside of the shower door, opposite the outer handle. Align the shanks of the inner handle to the holes drilled in the glass door and the shanks of the outer door handles. Using a screwdriver and screws provided in the handle kit, screw the inner and outer handles together.

Tips & Warnings

  • Knob type handles require no tools for installation. The shafts of the inner and outer knobs are aligned to the single hole in the glass door, then turned in opposing directions until tightened.
  • Be careful not to over tighten as you don’t want to crack the glass. Tempered glass shatters in to small pieces when it cracks.

If the Handles Have End Caps

To replace the handle, remove the end caps using pliers being careful not damage surfaces. The end caps are the short metal projections opposite the handle side of the glass door. The end caps have a thickness of less than ½”. Once the remove the end caps, the handle will slide out and you can install a replacement.

  1. Place a rag or soft cloth between the end cap and the adjustable pliers. Rotate the pliers in a counterclockwise direction to loosen the end cap or caps. Complete the removal of the end cap or caps by hand, making sure to catch the handle with your free hand.
  2. Clean the glass around the pre-drilled hole or holes where the handle was attached.
  3. Slide the threaded end or ends of the new handle through the pre-drilled hole(s) in the glass.
  4. Slide the end cap(s) on by hand with a clockwise turn until they are flush to the glass door.
  5. Hold a rag over the end cap or caps and affix the adjustable pliers.
  6. Check that the rag is between the teeth of the pliers and the finished surface of the end cap or caps before tightening.
  7. Give the end cap or caps a ¼” to ½” turn to fully tighten them onto the threaded nipple of the handle.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not allow the pliers to make contact with the glass door when loosening or tightening the end caps, as the tool could scratch the glass surface or crack the glass which would cause it to shatter into small pieces.

How to Reseal a Glass Shower Using Sealing Strips

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The seals around your glass shower door and panels tend to break down over time, either pulling away from the door or cracking. This can allow water to leak through, which could end up on your wall or floor and has the potential to cause expensive damage. Replacing the seal is a project suitable for novices and homeowners with little experience. You can purchase rubber or PVC sealing strips at your local home improvement or hardware stores.

  1. Carefully, so you don’t damage any surfaces, pry the old sealing strip from the shower using a flat-head screwdriver. If it doesn’t come away easily, run the tip of a utility knife under the edge of the strip to cut through the adhesive. Peel the strip off the shower.
  2. Pour adhesive remover onto a clean cloth. Rub the area where the seal was located, allowing the adhesive remover to sit for a few minutes to soften the glue. Wipe away the adhesive with a cloth and scrape away any remaining glue with a plastic putty knife.
  3. Wash the area with grease-fighting dish-washing liquid and water to remove soap scum and any remaining adhesive remover. Wipe the area with a dry cloth, making sure it’s completely dry.
  4. Measure the height of the wall where you plan to install the seal. Then measure it again. Cut the seal to fit using a utility knife.
  5. Cut the tip off a tube of silicone caulk at a 45-degree angle and pierce the inner seal with a nail or small screw driver. Press the tube into a caulk gun. Place the caulk tip at the top of the wall where you plan to install the new seal and squeeze the gun trigger. Slide the caulk gun down the wall, laying an even bead of caulk.
  6. Place the seal over the caulk bead. Tape it in place with painter’s tape to hold it securely while it dries. Wipe away excess caulk with a damp rag. Let the caulk dry for at least 24 hours before using the shower.


  • Shower seals come in several widths. Hold the seal in place before applying the caulk and close the door to make sure it closes properly. If you have trouble closing the door, slice off some of the width of the seal with a utility knife before installing it.

Removing Shower Doors

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Shower doors are sheets of tempered glass (shatters into small pieces when it breaks) enclosed in aluminum metal frames used to enclose a shower. Several types are available with the most common being the sliding shower door, usually found on bathtubs, and one pivoting on a frame affixed to the shower wall. Yet another type is a frameless shower door. Frameless shower doors attach to hinges mounting to the shower wall or a fixed panel of glass. Removal of a shower door is sometimes necessary for repairs to the shower or for easier access when cleaning the tracks.

Frameless Shower Doors

  1. Always have two people remove a frameless shower door. This type of door is extremely heavy and needs to be handled carefully to avoid damaging it.
  2. Remove the anchors securing the door hinges to the wall. Shower doors attached to a separate panel of glass use a hinge that grasps or pinches the shower door. Loosen the screws or bolts on each hinge that secure the shower door to the glass pane with a screwdriver or nut driver to free the door.
  3. Carefully set the shower door away from the work area.

Dual Sliding Glass Shower doors

  1. Grasp both sides of the door with your hands from inside the tub.
  2. Lift the door straight up towards the overhead track as far as you can.
  3. Swing the bottom of the door out and away from the bottom track.
  4. Push the top of the door either forward or backwards to disengage the door’s wheels from the overhead track. Once the wheels are disengaged from the track, lower the door and remove it.
  5. Place the shower door away from the work area, and repeat the process for the remaining door.

Single Pivot Shower Doors

  1. Locate the screw securing the pivot cap to the shower doorjamb and remove it. The pivot cap holds the pivot post or pivot mechanism in place. Removing the pivot cap allows the pivot post or mechanism to slide up and down.
  2. While firmly grasping the door, slide the pivot post down. Once you slide the pivot post down, the top of the door will be free from the pivot wall jamb.
  3. Swing the top of the door out and away from the frame affixed to the wall.
  4. Lift the door far enough for the remaining pivot post to clear the frame.
  5. Carefully place the shower door away from the work area.


  • Shower doors can be heavy; grasp doors firmly when removing to avoid damage to the door or other surfaces.
  • Never attempt to cut tempered glass as it will shatter. When shower glass breaks, it shatters into small pieces.

How Long Should Fresh Silicone Caulk Dry Before Using the Shower?

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Freshly applied silicone caulk needs to seal before you use the shower. Make sure the caulk is cured completely before using the shower to ensure the best long term results. It can take one to ten days to cure, depending on the caulk and the environment, before it is completely waterproof.

Silicone Caulk Curing Times

For successful application of silicone caulk surfaces must be clean, mold-free and dry.
Damp surfaces or moisture can prevent the caulk from adhering.

After applying fresh silicone caulk in a climate with moderate humidity, the silicone can cure overnight and you can take a shower the next day. The curing requires the interaction between moisture in the air and the caulk.
If you caulk during a cold month, shutting off the heat register in the bathroom or closing the door to keep out heat will help the shower cure faster by helping to keep the air from becoming too dry. In a dry climate, the best recommendation is to wait three days before using the shower.
Read the the manufacturers recommendations on the product you are using. Do not mix other
products in with the silicone.