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Shower Curtains vs. Glass Door: How to Choose

Bathroom with granite tile floor

Whether you’re building a brand-new shower or just sprucing up an existing one, you’ll need a way to contain the water so it doesn’t flood your bathroom every time you use the shower. The two common types of shower entryways are glass doors and shower curtains. Both can be aesthetically pleasing and add to the overall character of your bathroom. So, which one should you choose for your shower? Obviously, there’s a pretty major price difference between them. Is it worth spending the extra money to go with a glass door? Or is a shower curtain a better investment that leaves you plenty of financial wiggle room? To make the decision easier, let’s break down the pros and cons of each to see how they compare.

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Shower Curtains

shower curtain_Artazum_shutterstock
Credit: Artazum, Shutterstock

Go into most hotels, gyms, and other public showers, and you’re most likely to find curtains providing privacy to all stalls. More than just hiding your naked body from unwanted eyes, shower curtains can also be very visually appealing and unique. They come in many different colors, styles, patterns, and designs, so you can pick one that matches your character or your décor. Even if you pick a very decorative, high-quality shower curtain, it will still cost only a fraction of what a glass door setup would be. Conveniently, shower curtains can also be purchased almost anywhere.

Anyone can easily install a shower curtain. However, it does require a bit more than just a curtain to make it work correctly. You’ll also need a shower rod to hang it on, rings to hang the curtain on the rod, and a shower liner to stop the water from splashing out. Once you have everything, putting up the rod is just a matter of twisting it to tighten against both walls. Then you can simply hang the curtain and liner on the rings on the rod. The whole process takes only a few minutes and requires no experience. It also doesn’t cause any damage to the walls, so it’s great for those who are renting their living accommodations. You can also take it with you when you leave and re-install it in your next home.

Compared to a glass door, shower curtains are a much less elegant solution. This is particularly true if you have a nice-looking shower that you’d like to show off. A curtain will cover everything up, while a glass shower door makes the shower a focal point, drawing your eyes in. This could be an advantage in some cases where privacy is a concern, such as shared bathrooms. Another drawback is that a shower curtain and liner never completely seal the shower off from the bathroom. A glass door will ensure that no water can escape through the sides, but a shower curtain is always loose, with room to slip through.

  • Very affordable
  • Can buy anywhere
  • Easy to install
  • Many colors and designs to choose from
  • Provides privacy
  • Doesn’t look as good as a glass door
  • Isn’t completely sealed
  • Will also require a liner for proper function
  • Hides the shower behind

Drawbacks & Advantages of Glass Shower Doors

glass shower room_xujun_shutterstock
Credit: xujun, Shutterstock

An all-glass shower door can be more than just a way to enter and exit your shower while keeping the bathroom floor dry. It can become an integral part of the overall looks, complementing and enhancing the shower it’s enclosing. Especially in a tile shower that’s meant to be shown off, the glass doors can highlight the shower’s beauty and almost frame it into a focal point that attracts the eyes.

Even with glass doors, you have many options to choose from. Some have metal frames that go all the way around the door, encasing the glass panels. Some doors are considered frameless since they are missing the metal frame completely, opting instead to mount directly to the shower walls or hang on a single sliding bar across the top. The looks of these can vary greatly, so you still have plenty of freedom with choosing the way your shower will ultimately look. The hardware can all be matched to the other fixtures in your shower and sink as well to coordinate with your existing décor.

It shouldn’t be surprising that glass shower doors are considerably more expensive than a fabric shower curtain. The prices range pretty drastically, with framed doors falling on the lower end of the spectrum and completely frameless setups boasting some hefty price tags. What’s more, the installation of a shower door is many times more difficult, complicated, and labor-intensive than putting up a simple shower rod and curtain, and they can be more challenging to clean. Some homeowners that are proficient with tools and have some DIY experience may be able to install a framed shower door themselves.

For more difficult doors, such as frameless, or for those who aren’t very handy with tools, a professional will need to be contracted to perform the installation. This can start to increase the cost even more, so it’s something to keep in mind. Also, remember that a glass shower door is a permanent addition to your home, so you’ll only want to install one if you own the home you’re living in since you can’t take it with you when you leave.

  • Very visually appealing
  • Shows off the shower
  • Many design options available
  • Much more expensive
  • Difficult installation

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When is a Shower Curtain a Better Choice?

Most apartments, townhomes, and even rental houses are equipped with pretty basic showers that are built for function over form. In such cases, a shower curtain gives you a chance to enhance the look of your whole bathroom by hiding that boring shower behind something unique and exciting. You can even get shower curtains that display elegant works of art, so it can truly enhance the look of a plain shower. Moreover, a shower rod and curtain will leave no damage of any kind. You’ll also be able to easily remove them to take with you when you leave so you don’t have to purchase a new set for your next shower.

A shower curtain is also the better choice when the budget is of utmost concern. A shower door can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, plus the cost of installation. On the other hand, a shower rod and liner can be purchased for under $20 and will perform the utilitarian function of keeping your bathroom dry while you shower. A decorative shower curtain can be added later for another minimal cost, still falling many times short of the expense a glass door will bring.

If you’re living with roommates and share a bathroom, a shower curtain is also a better bet for this situation. While a glass shower door is completely see-through, a shower curtain will afford you privacy in case someone comes into the bathroom while it’s in use.

When is a Glass Door the Best Decision?

Have you invested money in building a beautiful tile shower in your bathroom? Don’t you dare cover it up with a cheap shower curtain! If you have a shower worth showing off, then it’s a worthwhile investment to get a glass door that will allow you to do so. A glass door is also the best bet when you want a permanent solution for your shower, or you want to add value to the home for selling it at a later date. Glass doors also provide a better entry experience, so if you want to enjoy your shower to the fullest extent possible, we’d suggest going with a glass door.

Even if you’re just replacing the door on an existing shower, another glass door can completely transform the look and feel of the shower and the whole bathroom. There will also be some damage leftover from the old door that you’ll need the new one to cover over.

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Both are intended to keep water from escaping your shower and turning your bathroom into an ocean, but shower curtains and glass shower doors are very different entryways with different optimal uses. A shower curtain is cheap, easy to get, and simple to install. You can find them in many colors and designs, and you can even take them with you when you move to a new dwelling. They provide you with privacy while you shower, but they also cover up the shower when not in use.

A glass door instead shows the shower off by highlighting it and drawing the eyes in. They look much more elegant than shower curtains, but they don’t provide you with any privacy while you shower. They’re expensive and difficult to install, but they’re also a permanent solution. If you’re renting your home, splitting with roommates, or you don’t want to break the bank, then a shower curtain is a good investment. If you have a beautiful custom shower to show off, you own your home, or you want a permanent solution, then a glass shower door is the way to go.

Featured Image Credit: Artazum, Shutterstock

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