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Posts Tagged ‘silicone’

Silicone Free Shower Enclosure

From: Belinda Shaw

We are in the process of getting a quote for a frameless  shower.  I recently saw a post from your archives about not using silicone around the base of the glass to seal from water.  “Frameless shower enclosers are not designed to be completely water -tight.”   I am very interested not using silicone due to the mold that can occur after time. I am concerned that our contractor will not be cooperative in not using a sealer.  He also likes to use the u-channel instead of the brackets to hold the glass in place.  I like the look of brackets instead of the u-channel.  Can you send me more information about not using the silicone to seal and any info on use of brackets over the u-channel?  Thank you for your help in this matter.

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Hi Belinda,

I’m glad you asked that question. The bottom line is that you have the final say whether your shower enclosure gets caulked or not. If you have come to terms with the fact that your shower may “leak” a little when you used it, you are a good candidate for a frameless shower enclosure. There are some advantages to using channel rather than glass clamps. One factor is that the channel will make the enclosure hold water a little better. Some people think that the channel gives the enclosure a cleaner look, as the clamps are a little bulky. It’s a matter of personal preference…

On the other hand, glass clamps are the preferred choice of designers and architects. Many people feel that this is the definitive look for a frameless shower enclosure. Again, you are the one who gets to decide. If you do go with the glass clamps, don’t try to fill in the gaps with clear silicone. It completely defeats the purpose of going frameless. You want the clean “glass only” look, with just a little hardware as needed. One thing we have been doing recently is using a dry silicone tubing to fill gaps where needed. If too much water is escaping, and the gaps between the glass and tile are large enough, you can use the silicone tubing instead. This just gets stuffed into the gaps, and looks really clean. If you ever want to replace it, you just pull it out an replace it. There is no cutting it out and scraping off the residue.

Good luck with your shower enclosure! I hope it goes well, and you end up with the shower that you really want.

-Chris Phillips

Silicone as a Glass Bonding Agent

Hi Chris,

Our frameless L shaped shower has a glass brace fitted above the section which has the door. They have attached this to the glass uprights with silicon. Is this strong enough or are you supposed to use a glass bonding agent?

Best wishes,

Mike and Gail

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Dear Mike and Gail,

Silicone is actually one of the best bonding agents available for glass. It is used in many commercial applications where it is the primary structural fastener in those systems. The ability of silicone to stretch and compress makes it the ideal sealant and adhesive for glass. We all know that glass is unforgiving in nature. It doesn’t want to bend, stretch, or compress. Silicone helps to make up for this.

The down side to using silicone as an adhesive is that it takes a long time to cure (about 24 hours). It’s also a bit messy to work with, and not very easy to clean up. If I need to glue something in a hurry, I will use a different adhesive, but I prefer silicone to anything else. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

Have a great day!

-Chris

http://www.ShowcaseShowerDoor.com

We Fix Botched Shower Door Installations


We were recently contacted by a gentleman who had a shower enclosure installed in a neighboring community (Santa Clara).The job went terribly wrong, and he needed some help. He was looking for advice about what to do about the poor glass fitting and bad caulking job done by the previous glass contractor. My advice to him was to have the original contractor come back and clean up the mess.



After a couple of weeks, he contacted me again and told me that he wanted me to come and redo the installation for him. Apparently, he was tired of dealing with the existing contractor, and just wanted it to be finished. Although I don’t normally do work in that area, I agreed to come out and see what I could do for him.



The silicone used by the other shower door installer had gone bad, and hadn’t really adhered to the tile anyway. I’m happy to say that we were able to take out the glass, and reinstall the enclosure using parts that the previous contractor had provided. It feels good to be able to make a bad installation turn out right.

Check out our website at showcaseshowerdoor.com

Gap Spacing in Frameless Shower Doors

Hi Chris

We’ve had our bathroom remodeled and I have a question about the frameless shower door. The glass was custom measured but when the door was installed the gap between the door and the adjacent glass isn’t uniform. It is 1/8″ at the top and 3/8″ at the bottom. I’ve asked the contractor to replace it. This doesn’t seem unreasonable. Also they put a plastic sweep along the edge. I think they did this to try and mask the gap. Is a sweep needed and normal?  Most pictures I’ve seen don’t have them.

You will also see in the picture silicone along the base of the shower glass we had the tile laid at a slight angle to allow Water to flow into the shower so I didn’t think this silicone is needed.  Your experience?

Thanks,

Brad

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Hi Brad,

Sorry to hear about the issues you are having with your recent shower enclosure installation. I think it is reasonable to reject the 1/4″ difference in size of the gap between the door and fixed panel. The industry standard is 1/16″ – but I think even that is pushing it. The edge seal along that edge is probably there to hide the condition you are describing. I never use a plastic seal there unless it is requested by the homeowner.

I also try to avoid using silicone whenever possible… Again, unless the homeowner requests it, I won’t. A frameless shower enclosure is not intended to be completely water-tight. They are to be used in showers where a small amount of water escaping is acceptable. These are issues that I am careful to discuss with my customer at the time of the sale. I explain the options and always try to dissuade my customers from making me caulk the shower. In some spots it is unavoidable, but I will let them make that call. It is way easier to add silicone later, if it is needed, than it is to remove it after it has been applied.

Installing Shower Panels Without Using Glass Clamps

Hi Chris, so glad I found your amazing site.  I live in Toronto, Canada and have been renovating our main bathroom for about six months now.  My wife and I have decided to finish the shower enclosure with a W36″ X H92″ X D1/2 tempered glass panel (floor to ceiling) without a door.  Can we install this on the tiled floor/wall and ceiling with just silicone or should we use clips as well? A crown molding will be installed after for aesthetics that should help hold it in place.

Kind Regards,

Robin and Juliet,

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Dear Robin and Juliet,

I wouldn’t try installing the glass without using clips. Silicone is quite structural, and is probably strong enough to the panel, but it would be pushing the limits a bit. If you have a groove cut in the tile that the glass could rest in, I would feel comfortable with forgoing the clips. We often “hide” a dark colored channel in the tile that is invisible once the glass is installed, yet holds the glass quite firmly.

Thanks for writing,

-Chris

Help a desperate Aussie!

Dear Chris,

Thank you for your wonderful blog, as a previous poster has said, it’s made it Down Under?

I have a problem I was wondering if you might be able to answer. A contractor recently messed up the caulking on my newly installed frameless shower screen, smearing silicone all over the glass and spreading it well into the grout lines of the freshly tiled floor. The caulk has seeped right in and stained the grey grout black.

The company has apologized and has offered to send someone to remove the excess caulk from the glass. They will not, however, clean up the grout as the manager says this kind of seepage is inevitable due to the nature of the tiles involved (25mm hexagonal mosaic).

Is there really no way around this? Would it not be possible to, say, fashion some sort of barrier to stop the silicone from running along the grout lines?

Best regards,
Chloe
Melbourne, Australia

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Hi Chloe,

Thanks for writing, and for your nice compliments. I am so sorry to hear that you are having problems with your shower enclosure installation. Silicone can be very messy, and it really takes some experience to apply it effectively and neatly. I have a big advantage over other glass contractors because I install shower enclosures almost exclusively. I get a lot of practice with caulking these frameless shower enclosures, so I am pretty good at it.

Still, I will always try to talk homeowners out of caulking the glass wherever possible. No matter how nicely the silicone is applied, it is still undesirable. A frameless enclosure, when properly utilized, shouldn’t require any caulking. Frameless (also called seamless) enclosures are not meant to be perfectly water tight. The environment should be designed to tolerate a small amount of leakage. The frameless enclosure is really designed more to look great than it is to hold water.

The response that you are getting from the company that did the installation is about what I would expect. It may not be ideal, but about all they can do at this point is clean it up as best they can. Since they don’t do tile work, you really don’t want them trying to re-grout your tiles… I’m sure that wouldn’t turn out very well anyway.

Thanks again,

-Chris