Archive for February, 2014

To Silicone, or not to Silicone?

Good afternoon!

I’m hoping you can shed some light for me. We are in the final days of finishing our new home with our semi-custom builder in Oklahoma.
We paid quite a bit in the beginning to upgrade our standard shower door to a 3/8 inch frameless shower door to avoid the build up of mildew and mold through the years on the silicone. The frameless shower doors I’ve always seen have just the brackets and hinges on the sides of the door as well as the side and base of the panel. They initially installed a semi-frameless door with a partial frame on the panel. They immediately ordered a new panel when I pointed out that it wasn’t frameless. I also addressed the silicone concern with the superintendent of our build and he said the silicone would all be cleaned up. Well they installed the new panel yesterday with brackets and then siliconed around the exterior surfaces of the panel. The glass company told our superintendent they had to leave it that way.

Is this true? And what purpose does the silicone serve in this situation?

Thanks for your help!

Amanda Sackett


Hi Amanda,

I’m sorry to hear about the mix-up with your shower enclosure. Silicone sealant is added to the joints between the glass and tile (the perimeter) to prevent leaking. There is no other reason for adding it. I ALWAYS try to talk people out of using silicone on frameless enclosures of this type. Frameless shower enclosures are not designed to be completely water-tight… They are meant to be used in bathrooms that are tiled in such a way that, if a small amount of water escapes, it’s no big deal. If people feel that waterproofing is a huge factor, I direct them towards using a channel around the perimeter rather than the brackets. It makes re-caulking the enclosure much more easy to do (when the silicone starts to mold) and looks much “cleaner” than a thick bead of clear silicone between the glass and the substrate.

I think you were absolutely correct to direct the contractor NOT to use silicone, providing you understood the fact that it would allow more water to escape from your shower. For me, the rule of thumb is that, it is easier to add silicone later (if needed) than it is to remove it when it is not!

I hope you find this helpful,



Question about Glass Enclosed Shower

We recently completed a master bath remodel including a glass enclosed shower. At the topmost opening edge of the door, it is ever so slightly scraping against the stationary frame edge. In your experience, is this cause for concern or remediation? It was doing this from the start and isn’t getting worse. Thoughts?


Billie Sue


Hi Billie Sue,

What you are describing is not unusual for a shower enclosure that has been installed for a while. It’s normal for some settling to take place in any home, and even a tiny amount of shifting in the substrate can cause the already small gaps between panels to disappear. That being said, it isn’t normal for glass to scrape immediately upon installation. It’s good to hear that the situation isn’t getting worse, but I wouldn’t view an installation as acceptable if the door is touching the fixed panel it is supposed to clear.

I hope that this helps,

-Chris Phillips

Tubular Hinges for Shower Enclosures


Do you know if they make a radius backed (for 1.5″ Outside diameter SS tube) hinge that could be used for a shower enclosure? I am trying to design a 42″ square freestanding shower enclosure out of SS tubing( I am reinforcing the tubing w/ a steel pipe run up center of tube). I found glass clamps to attach to tubes to hold glass on other 3 sides, but I can’t seem to find anything for hinges to hold the glass on the door side.

Thank you


Hi Misty,

Check out this stainless steel shower door hinge. It is available in polished or brushed stainless, and matches the materials that you are describing. It’s called the “Arctic” series, and is manufactured by C. R. Laurence. Let me know if you need any additional information. This hinge can be used with 3/8” thick tempered glass, and can support a door that is up to 36” wide and up to 90 pounds (using two hinges).

Best regards,

Chris Phillips – Owner

Subject: Your Blog

Nice reading your blog. You are fair when assessing others work. That’s nice to see in this day and age. Everyone of my immediate competitors here in southern N J seemed to be more concerned with comparing themselves to their competitor than stating what they can do Liked your comments on the shower you installed, against your better judgment. I guess. You you have taken your time and acted like you were struggling, maybe then he would have paid you.

We still love to use bottom uchannel, who doesn’t like the additional tolerances. However, so many in the area and different websites are showing absolutely no channel or clamps. I have checked with all the national manufacturers they state they won’t warrant anything without bottom mechanical support, same with CRL, I guess I’ll start at least moving to clamps as an option to the channel.

I guess I don’t understand when you say you do not use silicone to caulk, did I misunderstand you? It seems that your customers have been trained differently. Around here water seeping out from under the sweep, or just the opening of the door and water dripping on floor constitutes a leak, malfeasance on our part!

I read one blog where you are using a laser for your measurements. I still use a six ft level and setting blocks to get my measurements. Why do you feel the laser gives you better numbers?

At any rate, nice reading your info and and I appreciate your enlightened approach to your blog

I’m in business 27 years ago and started doing showers about 12 years ago. But it is never too late to learn

Appreciate your thoughts



Hi Al,

I always try to influence people to use U channel to secure fixed panels. Not only does it work well, I think it gives the enclosure a “cleaner” look than clamps do. The problem I run into is that designers like the clips, and that is what people tend to see in catalogs, etc. People also misunderstand the meaning of “frameless.” They think that the channel constitutes a frame, and you and I both know that it doesn’t. The words “frameless” and “seamless” are synonymous with “heavy glass” enclosures.

I never said that I don’t use silicone. I go through about a case of clear RTV every six months. I just try to talk people out of using it wherever possible. The same is true of plastic edge seals… why put something like that on your shower enclosure if you don’t absolutely have to? The exception, of course, is the seal at the bottom of the door. Most heavy glass doors need one of these. I always ask questions at the time of sale. It minimizes dissatisfaction after the sale. I let people know that frameless enclosures are NOT completely waterproof. If they can’t live with a tiny bit of water getting out of their shower, they need to get a standard enclosure. Even then, if a person can’t live with a few drops of water dripping off of the door when it opens what they really need is therapy! Not a shower door.

I like lasers for layout. I also use levels… it really depends on how complicated the geometry gets. Both are great!

Keep up the good work, and thanks for your positive feedback.

Chris Phillips – Owner
Showcase Shower Door – CCL #957120
1970 17th Avenue #C – Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Phone: (831) 464-3899 – FAX: (831) 477-0760