Fixed-glass shower panels have become incredibly popular, as more luxurious shower facilities are taking center stage as an ever-more desirable and valuable aspect of a home. There are a number of reasons why homeowners, designers, and architects enjoy fixed-glass shower panels. Here are just a few.
Advantages of a Fixed-glass Shower Panel
No clearance needed for a door
Fixed-glass shower panels maximize limited space in the bathroom by not requiring clearance on either side for a swinging or sliding door. They are very space efficient.
Makes the room feel larger and more spacious
By offering a clear and open view of the room, fixed-glass shower panels make the bathroom feel bigger and lighter than other alternatives, particularly when compared to a shower curtain.
Easy to clean
Fixed-glass shower panels are easy to clean, with fewer places to attract mold, mildew, or rust.
Easy to customize
Fixed-glass shower panels are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and can fit nearly any bathroom space and layout.
Show off your tile
For those who have invested in attractive shower tiles and design, a fixed-glass shower panel features your tile work instead of hiding it behind a curtain.
Friendly for seniors and people with disabilities
For many seniors and people with disabilities, a shower can be difficult or even dangerous. Fixed-glass shower panels reduce obstacles like doors and thresholds, making the shower easier to access and use.
As you can see, fixed-glass shower panels offer more than just an airy, modern look; they also offer ongoing practical advantages over other shower enclosures. No wonder they have become so popular. Installing a fixed-glass shower panel isn't very difficult, and most homeowners can DIY this project with some basic tools and preparation. Here is how to install a fixed-glass shower panel.
Before You Begin, a Few Words About Tempered Glass
While it is extremely rare, the tempered glass that shower panels are made of can shatter. The glass is particularly prone to shattering from impact on the corners. For this reason:
Install a fixed-glass shower panel with two people and handle it carefully
The fixed glass panel will be delivered with extra padding and protection on the corners. This extra packing material should be left in place for as long as possible, as you measure and handle the glass for installation.
As you move and handle the glass panel during installation, always set it on a towel, bathmat, or other padding, rather than setting it directly on a tile, stone, or vinyl floor.
Always wear gloves when handling your glass panel during installation
This will help prevent it from slipping, and also protect you in case the glass shatters.
Fixed-glass Panel Installation Options: Clamps or a U-channel?
Most of the time, when we imagine the look of fixed glass panels, we imagine them being held in place with clamps. Clamps are the sleeker, more modern look for a fixed-glass panel. However, you can also choose to secure a fixed-glass panel with a U-channel. A U-channel is an extremely minimal frame that supports the panel across the entire length and width of the panel, rather than clamps.
Some advantages of a U-channel installation are:
Faster and easier to install
Fittings for a U-channel are usually less expensive than clamps
The bottom edge of the glass panel doesn't have to be as precise, because it is concealed in the channel
Easier to waterproof and contain leaks
More difficult to clean than clamps
How to Install a Fixed-glass Panel with a U-channel
In most cases, your U-channel will be pre-cut to the measurements you need. If your U-channel is not precut, you may need a saw that can cut the aluminum channel and miter the corners for a nice fit.
To install a fixed glass panel with a U-channel:
Use a mildly abrasive cleaner to ensure that all surfaces are perfectly clean of any dirt, oils, or debris that may interfere with a seal.
Rinse and dry all surfaces thoroughly with a microfiber cloth.
Verify your layout, using a pencil to mark the centerline of the glass panel.
Drill holes in your U-channel and place anchors. Holes should be at least 1 ¼ inch deep, and countersunk so that the head of the screws is flush with the bottom of the channel. Most people try to locate U-channels on a grout line, to make installation easier, but you may need to use a masonry bit to set anchors in tile or stone surfaces. Be careful to not introduce any dirt, oils, lubricants, or debris that will prevent a proper seal.
Put a bead of silicone on the bottom of the U-channel, and a small dab of silicone on each screw hole to ensure a strong seal.
Locate the U-channel and screw it in place, making sure that all screws are flush with the bottom of the channel.
Place your setting blocks inside the channel.
Place the glass panel inside the channel.
Seal the entire channel on both sides with silicone.
How to Install a Fixed-glass Panel With Clamps
As above, ensure that all relevant surfaces are perfectly clean and dry.
Measure and mark your centerline for the glass panel.
Place the clamps on to your panel and align it in place. You will probably need a second person to position it correctly, and may need to use a piece of wood as a spacer to hold it up at the bottom.
Use a spirit or laser leveler to ensure that the panel is level and positioned correctly.
With the panel held in place, use a pencil to mark the position of the clamps.
Remove the clamps from the panel, and pre-drill holes to hang the clamps in position. You may need a masonry bit, and you may need to use anchors to support the weight of the panel.
Mount all your clamps.
Place the glass in position again, using a spacer or setting block to position it as desired.
Secure the clamps on the glass, following the manufacturer's instructions.
Place silicone sealant around the clamps on both the wall and the panel, inside and out.