If you are having a new shower installed, you can choose the type of glass used in the shower door. All glass used for showers is safety glass, which means it is tempered by a controlled heating and cooling process that makes it stronger. Choose the thickness--1/4 to 1/2 inch. Choose framed or nonframed; no frames and more glass gives the appearance of spaciousness. Study all the varieties of glass to determine which shower doors you like best.
Two kinds of clear glass are available: the standard clear glass that has a slight green hue, which is easier to see when the glass is thicker, and "crystal clear" or "ultra clear," which has no color whatsoever. Shower door glass is sometimes tinted gray or bronze. Mirror-backed shower doors make a small bathroom look larger, especially if they reflect the light from a sunny window.
Acid-etched frosted glass is common partly because it adds interest and beauty and partly because it provides a bit of privacy. The "obscured" style isn't acid etched but looks as though the glass has been stretched like clay. The designs of both styles are permanent. Choose glass that looks like granite, with random clear and frosted areas, or pick doors covered in raindrops. Choose wrinkled or bumpy glass or glass doors with vertical stripes, polka dots, flowers, feathers--even a fleur-de-lis pattern.
An infinite array of pictures is permanently sandblasted on shower door glass. Sketches inspired by nature include trees, ferns, branches and leaves; pond lilies and bulrushes; and ocean waves, fish, sea turtles and shells. Choose checks, a neo-classic design or a decorative border incorporating flowers or geometric shapes if you're looking for a strong graphic style. Sketches of people are common; pick a hockey player, a windsurfer, Flamenco dancers, a mermaid or seductive woman, a stately Roman man, a snow skier or snowboarder. You can even select a sketch of your own to sandblast into shower door glass to give your bathroom a one-of-a-kind personality.
Once you've chosen the perfect glass for your new shower door, take care of it so it will remain looking new for years. As the glass ages, tiny pits and scratches form. Calcium, lime and soap scum hang on to the glass more easily because of these imperfections. Some glass treatments, when applied by the glass manufacturer before the doors are installed, protect the glass from this natural corrosion so that scum has nothing to cling to. These nonhazardous treatments resist fingerprints as well and make cleaning the glass a breeze.