Looking for a New Shower Door? Our Shower Door Dictionary Can Help!

Heavy Glass Shower Door Pic

Maybe you’ve seen an online image of a shower door you’re in love with, but don’t know what to ask for. Or perhaps you already know what you want, but just aren’t familiar with shower door “lingo”. Whether you know some of what you’re looking for in a shower door, or you’re open to suggestions, we’re betting that our shower door dictionary can help steer you in the right direction!

Bypass Doors

A shower system that uses two pieces of sliding glass in lieu of a hinged swing-open door. These are an extremely popular choice for enclosing a combination bathtub-shower space, and are also a low-maintenance, cost-effective choice.


A clip is a metal clamp or bracket used to attach glass to walls or glass to another piece of glass. Clips are made of solid brass that’s then plated to match the other metal accessories in the shower such as the handles and hinges on the shower door.

Framed or Frameless?

Framed shower door enclosures are the most cost-effective since they typically used 3/16″ tempered or laminated glass with substantial anodized aluminum extrusions (metal fittings or hardware).

Frameless shower door enclosures can use either 3/8″ or 1/2″ tempered glass and either anodized aluminum or plated brass hardware. The term confuses some, because it sounds like there’s no metal involved in the installation. The truth is, metal is used for clips, hinges and handles, and sometimes for the header atop the enclosure and the track below the door on stationery panels, if they’re used.

Glass: Laminated or Tempered?

Laminated glass is made up of two layers of glass compressed against a piece of transparent plastic. The plastic piece between the layers of glass is a safety measure to prevent the glass from shattering.

Tempered glass is heat-strengthened for safety. The heat treatment makes the glass about 4 times stronger than regular glass — so strong, in fact, that some people have glass stair treads! If it breaks, tempered glass fractures into small pieces with no sharp edges, greatly reducing the possibility of serious injury.


A header refers to the metal support at the top of a shower that’s used to support the door and any additional (side) panels. It bears the weight of the door and stabilizes the stationary panels. It’s typically 1-1/4″ to 3″ thick.


These are solid brass or aluminum mechanisms that both support the weight of the door and allow it to swing in and/or out.

Pivot Hinges

A pivot hinge is a solid brass unit that allows for hinging a glass door off a stationary glass panel or a wall. In the case of glass-to-glass pivots, they distribute the weight of the door down, toward the curb rather than letting the stationary panel bear the full load of the door. When used to attach the door to a wall, there’s a leg on the top hinge that is screwed into the wall, allowing the door to be hinged in a way that eliminates the need for a header. Here again, the weight of the door is distributed down towards the curb to avoid putting the full weight of the door on the wall.

When you’re ready to install a new shower door in your Kansas City bathroom, contact us online or call us at (816) 282-6484 for more information!