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A Guide On Purchasing Shower Enclosures

Published on: 23/07/2015
Last Updated: 09/06/2022
Choosing The Right Shower

Shower enclosures fulfil the crucial role of providing a boundary to facilitate showers in the bathroom. They improve the bathrooms' role by imparting it a dual purpose; it allows for better maintenance by eliminating the possibility of wet floors known to damage the floor over a period. Water spillage on the bathroom floor could lead to accidents, with mopping being the only tedious solution after every shower, which is completely avoidable with enclosures.

Enclosure units are available in a variety of different sizes, such as 700mm, 800mm and 900mm, to match your bathroom decor. Picking the most suitable option from an array of bathroom brands is of paramount importance.

Tips To Consider Before You Embark On Your Purchase

  • Positioning - Installing a shower enclosure in the existing area will save time and money incurred for preparing the area and the plumbing work. It's very easy to attach the overhead pipes from the already-existing hot and cold piping.
  • Trays - After fitting the tray, the entire unit must be tested for leakage. It is important that the tray and the walls of an enclosure are leak-free. This helps to contain the water in the tray and prevent it from spreading to other areas.
  • Corrosion Testing - A corroding material is not advisable for bathrooms, as it is in constant contact with water, soaps, detergents and shampoos that you use. The colour of the corroding material mars the look of the bath area, making it essential to purchase high-quality metal fittings.
  • Strong, Durable and Smooth Doors:. Look for doors with smooth mechanisms. The condition of doors is vital to the durability of your shower enclosure. The rollers and the grooves should not be easily destructible by water or bathing chemicals.
  • Thickness: Shower doors must be made of a minimum 4mm thick toughened safety glass, the ideal choice being 6mm.
  • Seals on the shower enclosure must be water-tight
  • Size, Shape and Height - Shower Enclosures come in different shapes; square, oblong, rectangular and quadrant. The choice of size and shape gives you the space and comfort you need while showering. A review of your bathroom layout, to work out the dimensions and placement of the enclosure, is a must before you finalise your purchase to avoid any mismatch.
  • Cheap Imports: Don't fall for cheap imports that always fail to fulfil expectations and earn disrepute for the product. Buying a cheap one that has been mass-produced abroad puts consumers in a difficult position should something go wrong, as it is virtually impossible to get personalised service if there are problems during installation or with the entire unit itself. If the product is damaged or faulty, the chances of making a successful guarantee claim are meagre. Besides, manufacturers overseas are unlikely to fully comply with the safety standards that apply to the UK market. To avoid disappointment, it's wise to buy from a reputable retailer.
  • Handles & Fixings: The handles for a shower enclosure should be strong and of high quality, preferably metals, made from brass or steel. Chrome-coated plastics provide a poor experience, and they are easily breakable. They usually tend to last longer than the plastic ones.
  • Look for doors with the smooth mechanism.
  • Seals on the shower enclosure must be watertight.
  • Select fixtures from reputed brands to make replacement procedures hassle-free.

Walk-in Showers
Selecting a perfect shower enclosure

What about the thickness of glass of an enclosure?

All enclosures and screens in the UK are made of toughened safety glass, which ensures safety in the event of any accident or mishap leading to the glass breaking. However, the thickness of this glass varies from one brand to another and within the brand itself. Commonly, the range includes 4mm, 6mm, and 8mm to a maximum of 10mm.

Why is Thickness so important when it comes to Enclosures?

At the very basic level, glass thickness determines how sturdy and strong your cubicle will be. Sometimes the thickness and weight of the glass may be so much that it may decrease its lifespan and put an unnecessary strain on the other accompanying parts and accessories.

The rollers/pivots/hinges that hold the structure together and let it roll smoothly to open and close should be able to stand up to the additional weight easily. Subsequently, the more 'heavy duty' these parts are, the more expensive they are. Also, if you do the calculations, the thicker glass will cost more, as there are more elements packed into it.

Which Should I choose for the best value?

The thickness of glass depends largely on the type of enclosure you wish to buy and your budget. For instance, for a wet room, 8mm toughened safety glass is the ideal choice. 8mm glass is considerably thick for this kind of application, with the frameless design structurally ideal for such high-quality glass. Besides, the additional weight lends itself beautifully to create a luxury finish in any bathroom.

For corner entry shower cubicles, a 6mm optimum glass thickness is recommended. Creating a solid feel, 6mm offers the necessary safety along with a high-quality look. As these doors work on rollers, this thickness is just right for a smooth to-and-fro movement. Anything below 6mm thick and the doors look flimsy and lack the appeal of high-quality construction. 6mm thick glass provides a premium and solid structure while not breaking the bank. If you are shopping on a budget and negotiating the best quality over the lowest price, 6mm is a safe bet.

There are strict safety regulations in the UK, and all enclosures must be tested to British Standards, approved, and CE marked. As long as you buy from a reputed brand, you can be sure you are getting industry-standard safety and warranties that provide peace of mind, and the problem of finding complementary accessories and other parts is eliminated.

Examples of Glass Patterns

clear glass Clear Glass
Rail patterned Glass Rain Patterned Glass
Frosted Glass Frosted Glass

Glass Doors and Side panels for a cubicle can be made of glass with different patterns depending on its chemical and physical properties. Clear glass is made with low iron content and reflects sunlight to a very small degree allowing a lot of light to pass through the glass, and offers excellent clarity and uninterrupted views.

Frosted glass, on the other side, is used more for privacy reasons, as it obscures the vision to a certain amount, and offers a decorative and appealing alternative to clear glass.

Rain or Patterned Glass is popular in shower areas—it is a type of textured glass with a pattern that resembles water or raindrops running down the glass surface. The rain-like design enhances its visual appeal while preventing clear views of the cubicle, thereby offering privacy to the person using the shower cabin.

Different Types of Shower Doors to Choose from

To decide on the ideal one for your requirement, take a look at the most popular UK styles from bi-folding, sliding to pivot openings.

Hinged & Pivot Pivot

Bi-Fold Bi-Fold

Quadrant Quadrant

Sliding Sliding

Hinged & Pivot: A Robust, Convenient Solution

Hinged and Pivot Shower Doors are similar types and have similar openings that swing outwards, providing excellent access to the enclosure. With hinged styles, the panel is attached by secure hinges on one side, allowing the door to open fully outwards. Pivot doors are similar but create a smaller opening, with the door secured in place by two sturdy pivots. The Pivot is the most common type that is used. Besides having a relatively low cost of installation, these are preferred over sliding, offering very easy access to the showering area. As fantastic as it sounds, you must have sufficient space to allow the door to open fully. There should be no obstructions from nearby walls.

If space is a worrying factor, there are other alternatives that you can consider, including:

Bi-Fold: Compact & Versatile

The bi-fold shower door folds together when you slide it to open or close. Often installed on rectangular enclosures or between two walls, this type offers a compact, space-saving solution that doesn't swing outwards or inwards. It can also be incorporated into a larger panel enclosure to create a modern and convenient wet room. But mostly, it is used for small bathroom spaces.

Sliding: Save on Space

Sliding Shower doors are self-explanatory, in that they slide to the side when you want to enter the shower. The advantage of installing this type is that it saves space because you don't have to make room for an in-swinging or out-swinging. They usually consist of a number of glass panels that slide together when opened, ideal for all types of bathrooms, large and small.

Quadrant: Style & Convenience

Quadrant Shower doors create a unique curvature with the glass wall of an enclosure, forming a stylish space for corner installation. Rather than having the door on one side of the enclosure, quadrant panels can conveniently face diagonally into the room, ultimately saving space. Also, these form a larger access point, making it easier to get in and out.

Shower Door Style

Would you like a framed or frameless glass door? In the end, it is up to your personal preferences. Frameless versions make for a modern look that is hard to beat and are certainly easier to keep clean. Always select good, long-lasting materials. Take a good look at your current bathroom fixtures. If you currently enjoy a classic style, a modern door might look out of place.

On the other hand, if you want to update the room then selecting a frameless version might be the perfect solution. If you do choose one with a frame, try matching the colour of the frame to the colour of your furnishings. There are also etchings in glass options available if you are looking for more privacy.

Tips on how to select the perfect Shower door

Choose the Correct Configuration: Select the style and configuration that most closely matches your bathroom needs.

Measure up: Carefully measure the dimensions of the door. The height and width of your door of choice must match exactly the dimensions of the existing shower opening. Even minor variations can result in the finished product leaking at best, and at worst, could completely prevent proper installation.

Take the kind of material on the walls into account when specifying dimensions: If you measure for fitment on new construction, the distance from wall to wall will vary significantly, once the material used for the finished wall is applied. The application of fibreglass, tiles, or acrylic will reduce the wall-to-wall dimensions, so take care to factor in the additional thickness when specifying your enclosure or doors. Whether it's an entirely new enclosure you're finishing or replacing of an existing door or enclosure, be certain the door you select (and the dimensions provided) are correct, to make for a water-tight fit. It is best to consider hiring a qualified installer to make certain that the finished project meets your expectations.

What are the big style trends at the moment?

Shower Enclosures

Frameless glass shower enclosures have become an increasingly popular trend in recent years. Offering a stylish, clean, and elegant look, they also give the effect of making your bathroom seem that much more open and spacious.

On the other hand, framed glass shower enclosures are still very much in vogue. Offered in a variety of styles, colours and finishes, frames can greatly add to your bathroom and shower’s visual aesthetic.

Custom-fitted shower enclosures, with features such as balustrades, have also become more available and affordable over time, making them a popular choice.

Choosing a colour

You will likely want to match the colour of your shower enclosure with the rest of the bathroom’s colour scheme. A colour wheel can be a particularly useful aid, especially when it comes to keeping track of the colours you already have, and choosing new colours that complement the existing bathroom palette.


You will find all kinds of doors made from different materials and manufactured to different standards. So think carefully, establish a budget, and start looking at the price range you've set. If you're thinking of cutting back on your investment, remember that a quality fixture will deliver a great deal more for the longest time than an inferior one.

Information on Steam Cabins

Steam shower cabins

A steam cabinet is an enclosure designed to provide luxurious showers and also has a steam mechanism that will allow you to fill your enclosure with warm, relaxing steam. Reposed on a steam generator, steam cabins trap water vapour within the enclosure to generate moist heat which is easy on the skin.

What are the Advantages of Fitting a Steam Cabinet?

Steaming is a proven way to relax and de-stress. They are easy to maintain and clean as well. By opting for a steam cabinet rather than a regular shower enclosure, you are sacrificing little to get a much better showering experience.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

While the price of steam cabinets has fallen drastically in recent years, you're still probably going to pay more than you would for a regular shower. Installation of a steam cabinet is also a little more complicated than that of a traditional shower in most cases, and you might want to employ a professional rather than doing it yourself, which can add to the cost. You will also need to learn to use your cabinet properly, which is a tad more confusing than a simple shower. For a top-end, modern bathroom, a steam cabinet is a great luxury and one that you will really want to think about if you're in the midst of redesigning your room.

A key factor in choosing steam shower units is the time duration taken by different models to generate enough steam to fill the enclosure. A host of accessories can be added to your steam shower cabins to enhance your experience. One should also not forget about a good ventilation facility to evacuate the steam once you have your steam session.

The QS Supplies factor

QS Supplies showcase a variety of products in recognition of bathroom decor diversities. We offer shower quads for mid-sized and smaller area bathrooms to gain more space. We are committed to delivering quality products and request you to visit our showroom to examine an entire range of shower enclosures that meet or even exceed both British and European Standards. Select products from leading brands such as Twyford, Aqualux Heritage, Crosswater, Frontline, Duravit, Lakes and many more.

Our staff would be eager to assist you in selecting a suitable enclosure for your bathroom area. Remember, preparation is key; a little time spent planning on your bathroom remodelling will always pay off.

Sarabeth Asaff

Sarabeth Asaff
Sarabeth Asaff is a former kitchen and bathroom designer who now works as a home and garden industry writer and expert. She has a working knowledge of all areas of the home improvement industry, and specialises in functional design and material advice.