Q: My guest bathroom is incredibly dated, especially the blandly beige shower enclosure. I’ve been looking to give it a DIY facelift. What do I need to know before I try this?
A: According to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders, bathrooms are the No. 1 remodel for homeowners. One of the reasons bathroom remodels are so popular is there are so many great styles and options to choose from.
With so many choices, it can sometimes be tricky to know where to start. To keep things simple, let’s focus on creating a stunning shower enclosure that ties the whole bathroom together.
Let’s start with some technical tips you’ll need to know before you begin.
When framing the shower surround, place stud backing behind the tile where the hinges will be mounted. This will ensure the heavy glass shower door will be stable and secure. We recommend two studs or a 4×4 post in the framing.
Make sure the shower threshold slopes 1/16 to 1/4 of an inch inward towards the shower. This will help with water management and minimize splash outside the enclosure onto the bathroom floor.
Make sure the area where glass meets walls or pony walls is at a 90-degree angle. This allows more design options and a better finished product.
Place the shower head on the back wall away from the door, and consider putting shower controls by the door opening. That way, you can turn on the water without getting wet.
Consider proportions. If you have a high ceiling, you’ll need taller glass panels. Conversely, if you have a short ceiling, you will need a shorter panel. Also, consider the size of the door opening. The average door’s opening width is 28 inches when finished. You can go bigger if you have a larger space. If you have a small space, you can go down to 24 inches, but less than that is not recommended.
Next, let’s look at three areas of focus for creating your new shower enclosure.
Space. When designing your enclosure, the first step is evaluating your space. Is there enough room for a swing door that hinges inward and outward? Or does a frameless, sliding barndoor-style enclosure — a timeless option — fit better? Another option is a free-standing glass panel; it has the advantage of making the bathroom feel expansively open, and it’s a smart choice for smaller spaces.
Another consideration is aging in place. If you have the space, making your shower enclosure ADA-compliant will not only increase your home’s resale value but will also add practical longevity.
Type of glass. Whether textured or clear, there are many types of glass available. With textured glass, such as rain- or satin-etched, the design becomes the focus and can also provide privacy. Clear glass offers clean and classic option, and is an especially strong choice when featuring stone or tile work. If you’ve invested in a specific tile or stone, you’ll want to install clear glass to showcase it.
Style. First, decide whether you prefer framed, semi-frameless or frameless heavy glass. If you’re on a tight budget, a framed enclosure can be a good solution. However, a heavy-glass frameless door is always icing on the cake in any bathroom remodel. Then choose the glass thickness. A standard heavy glass door is 3/8-inch thick. However, on higher-end remodels, you may want to install half-inch-thick glass; it’s more substantial and luxurious. Hardware is another important consideration. Chrome, satin-nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, matte black and gold are just a few of the many options. Hardware accents reinforce the bathroom’s character and aren’t throw-away details.
By building the enclosure correctly with the right technical specifications and carefully consider design features like space, glass type and style, you can determine the budget and drive the design of the overall bathroom remodel.
Jeremy Anderson is the marketing director at AAA Kartak Glass & Closet, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s more than 2,700 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.