Archive for April, 2011

Time for a Comment?

Hello, I came across your website/blog when looking for opinions on mounting a frameless shower door through glass tile.  If you have a moment to offer your opinion I would appreciate it but I also understand if you don’t have time to opine on a project in Minnesota.

The wall is 2×4 stud-1/2” backer board-acrylic modified thinset-1/4” 4×4 glass tile.  The opening is 57” and 32” of that will be dual-swing door with 2 heavy duty hinges and the other piece will be fixed with a metal base and single high wall mount bracket.  The installer said they can try to install it but they might crack the tile, which is understandable.  However, I was wondering if you have ever used or thought about using a metal spacer that the installation screw can pass through and sink into the stud.  If the spacer were an 1/8” proud of the glass tile, passed through the backer board and into the wood a set depth it would then compress the wood stud as it was tightened rather than the tile.




Hi Eric,

Thanks for taking time to contact me. I am always interested in hearing about shower door projects – especially when there is some challenging element involved. It’s not unusual to see glass tile being used in shower stalls these days. When I first started coming across it, several years ago, I was pretty nervous about it. I find that the process of drilling through the tile is the tricky part. Although it is possible to drill through glass with a standard masonry bit, I prefer to use a diamond drill or a “spear-point” bit. The key is to take your time, and keep the material cool to prevent the glass from breaking.

Your idea for using a metal spacer is pretty clever. If I understand you correctly, you are proposing the idea of a hollow metal “tube” large enough to allow the screw to pass through, preventing compression of the glass by the screw when tightened. What I do in this situation is actually very similar. I use a plastic expansion plug in the hole, which protects the glass tile by preventing the screw from coming in contact with it. The down side to using a metal spacer is that the weight if the glass pulling down on the hinge could possibly cause it to, eventually, come in contact with the glass. A plastic plug acts as an isolator, even if the sheer force of the weight of the door forces it downward.

Either way, I have found that glass tile does an excellent job of holding up against a shower door installation. Glass is every bit as strong as most tile, and is actually a very similar material. When you run screws through the hinge plate, through the tile, through the backer board, and finally into the stud, the force of the fasteners is actually spread out over the whole surface area of the hinge’s back plate. The best thing you can do to keep the glass tile from breaking is to drill the holes carefully, and keep the screws from coming in contact with the glass once the door is hung.

I hope this helps,


Replacing a Shower Enclosure with a Frameless One

Some people want to know whether they can upgrade their existing shower enclosure to a European style “frameless” shower enclosure without having to replace their tile. We recently had a customer who had upgraded their bathroom, and had some regrets about having settled for a standard, manufactured shower enclosure. The biggest challenge to replacing a “semi-frameless” shower enclosure with a true frameless one is hiding the screw holes in the tiles. In some cases, the previous installer will have drilled the holes into the grout lines. When this is the case, you can simply fill in the missing grout with little effort. This, however, is rarely the case. There is also the issue of removing the silicone sealant, and discoloration due to the “weathering” of the tile, granite, or marble.



Here are some before and after photos of a shower enclosure that we recently replaced with a 1/2″ frameless shower enclosure. We were able to remove the old enclosure, clean up the silicone sealant, and locate the new shower door and fixed panel on top of the area where the old enclosure used to be. We were also able to find silicone caulk that matched the color of the tile, and used it to fill the holes in the tile left behind by the previous shower door installation. Even though the glass is clear, it is impossible to see the old holes through the glass. As you can see, the improvement is pretty incredible.