Plastic or Glass Shower Doors for the Bathroom?

Shower with Clear Door

Both glass and plastic bathroom shower doors offer their own unique set of qualities, such as price, lifespan, durability, and ease of maintenance. Considering these factors before making a purchase will help immensely in deciding which type is right for you.

Glass Doors

The first and most common material is glass. Glass shower doors are usually more expensive than other materials, but they also offer a variety of benefits for the money. These include ease of cleaning, aesthetics, and a long overall lifespan.

All of this may sound tempting, but not all glass is made the same. A number of considerations should be made before buying.

Tempering Glass

The glass should be tempered. This is an absolute must, as the tempering of glass under high heat removes structural inconsistencies that would otherwise cause internal strains and weaken the glass considerably.

Most modern shower doors have heat tempered glass, but always check to make sure.


The number of pieces the glass breaks into is just as important as its resistance to breaking. The cardinal rule is the greater number of pieces the glass breaks into, the safer it is. This is because each piece will be just as sharp regardless of its size.

However, larger pieces can do far more damage due to sheer weight. The minimum ratio is 45 pieces per 120x120mm, but this figure is a legal minimum requirement, and more is always better.

The glass should also be at least 5 millimeters thick, but the thicker the better. Keep in mind that thicker glass will also be more expensive and heavier.

Framing The Shower Enclosure

Exposed glass edges are very sharp, so it’s very important to frame the entire border of the door. Aluminum is by far the most popular choice, as it is strong enough to weather daily use, resistant to corrosion, and malleable enough to absorb impacts rather than transferring energy directly to the glass. Additionally, aluminum is very easy to clean and maintain.

Plastic Doors

The second type of material you may want to consider for your shower door is plastic. Like glass, not all plastics are made the same, and each type brings to the table its own unique properties.

Always look for one that specifies it is made of acrylic, as this is the strongest type available. Most modern plastic doors will be acrylic, but always check.


For the most part, plastic shower doors are typically less expensive than their glass counterparts, and thus may be a strong consideration for a tight budget.

Resilience of Plastic Shower Doors

Additionally, plastic doors are more flexible than glass, making them more absorbent if someone were to slip and hit them.

This has two key benefits: the first is that when an impact is made, if the material does not cave some, then more of the impact is absorbed by the person hitting it, worsening the injury.

The second is that unlike glass, which is much stiffer, plastic is more able to reform to its original shape without breaking.

Plastic doors may then be suitable for the elderly, families with young children, or anyone who may be less steady on their feet.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Bathroom Doors

Typical glass cleaners cannot be used to clean plastic, as they are caustic to the material. The most widely used method is to spray white vinegar on every surface of the door, allow it to sit for about five minutes, then apply baking soda to a paper towel or shop rag and scrub the vinegar off. This prevents the buildup of lime scale on the door and keeps it looking like new.

Plastic is also much lighter than glass, making installation and everyday use much easier.  Each type of shower door offers its own advantages, and choosing the best material for your situation will ensure its long life and your continued satisfaction.


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The Orlando Home Direct team helps you find the perfect home for your needs and makes the process stress-free, exciting, and fun.

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