How to Install a Shower Door

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Installing a shower door, frame and all, is not a walk in the park. The good news is that whatever type of door you want to add to your walk-in shower, the frame should be pretty much the same.

But, when it comes to actually taking measurements, fixing the frame, aligning the door, etc., things might get more complicated than you realize.

Here are some guidelines on how to install shower doors on standard frames.

Picking the Right Shower Doors

There are two types of shower doors: swinging doors and sliding doors. For most people, the door design is a matter of personal preference. But the design differences also make each type of shower doors better suited for certain situations.

Swinging Doors

Swinging doors are often used in small walk-in showers. Think of those that are up to 50” wide wall to wall. A single large door is easier to install and easier to use in a confined space.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors can really help you capitalize on the openness of a large walk-in shower stall. They’re just very practical by design although they require some additional measurements before you place an order.

How to Measure for Shower Doors

If you’re set on installing swinging doors then you just have to measure the distance between the shower stall’s walls and the base of the shower. Find an appealing design that matches your measurements and you’re good to go.

Sliding doors always require three measurements. You need to measure the threshold length, halfway point, and the height of the walls.

The halfway point measurement is very important in this case because that’s where the two edges of the sliding doors should overlap when closed.

Shower Door Frame General Installation Guidelines

If you need to make adjustments, start by cutting the base track of the door frame to fit the threshold. After centering the base track, use a strong silicone sealant to lock it in place.

If you’ve never used a silicone sealant before, it’s not that hard. Apply constant pressure and follow the sides of the base track to glue it down.

Even with a quick-drying sealant, it may take up to 12 hours or a full day for it to cure. Don’t use the shower during that time and avoid creating steam in the bathroom.

Now it’s time to handle the vertical setup. To avoid gaps in the frame, make sure that the hinge-side jamb is lying flat on the wall while you're aligning it with the base track. To avoid gaps in the frame, make sure that the hinge-side jamb is lying flat on the wall while you're aligning it with the base track. Not all jambs come with pre-drilled holes so you might need to drill your own holes.

Do the same thing with the strike-side jamb on the opposite wall. How do you know which goes where? It’s simple – the hinge-side jamb is usually positioned on the wall opposite the shower head.

Now you can cut the header rail to fit from wall to wall above the jambs. Don’t assume that it should be the same size as the base track.

Fix the header on top of the jambs. You may not always need extra screws for this because shower door headers are generally designed to lock into place.

When installing a swinging door, the upper part of the header should face outward from the shower stall. That’s so that the door can swing open with nothing blocking it.

Installing a Swinging Door

Mount the hinge rails into the jambs. Start with the hinge-side jamb. Make sure to follow the groove of the base track as you lift the rail and push it into the side jamb.

At this point, you may need to drill extra holes into the side jamb. Three or four screws should be enough to support the weight of a 3/8” thick tempered glass shower door.

Attach the door to the jamb after securing each screw into place.

Installing a Sliding Door

For sliding doors, you first have to install bumpers. You add them to the side jambs in order to prevent the doors from smashing into the jambs when closed.

Bumpers can be plastic or rubber. Rubber is the preferred choice for both extra sealing and impact protection.

Look at the design of the strike-side jamb to see how many bumpers you’ll need. Look for the mounting holes on the upper edges of the glass panels. Attach the hanger brackets and put the plastic separator clips over each hole. Put the metal hanging brackets over the separators and then put the bushings through the holes.

Do this from the outside in so that you can secure them with blind nuts and create a seal. These accessories should be provided by all manufacturers when you buy a sliding shower door kit.

Look for the rollers. These pieces attach to the hanging brackets. Put the screws through the top slots of the hanging bracket to secure the rollers. The rollers should always be facing outwards. This is because the outside section is  not coated and the inside portion is coated. Using this setup will allow the rollers to slide without much resistance in both directions.

Start mounting the doors from the header rail. Align the rollers on the grooves of the underside portion of the rail. Slowly bring the edge of the door into the base track.

The Final Touches

After installing any type of door, test the hinges or the rollers a couple of times to find any squeaks, unaligned parts, and any unwanted or missing feedback.

If you’re satisfied with the installation of the frame and the doors, it’s time to install any leftover accessories. If you want handles, towel racks, hooks, pulls, anything of the sorts, it’s best to install them after the doors are secured in place and fully functional.

Is It Worth Installing Your Own Doors?

Long story short, putting up your own shower doors is not ideal. Unless you’re also responsible for redecorating the entire bathroom, you probably don’t have the necessary tools on hand to do most of the work.

Also, if you take up installing shower doors as a DIY project, you may be missing out on cooler designs and setups such as frameless shower door systems.

Upper body strength, steady hands, good tools, spatial awareness, and some experience will be needed. If you don’t have it, it’s best to either call a professional or take advantage of whatever installation deals the retailer of the doors offers.

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