The Shower Enclosure Buying Guide

Shower enclosures are available in so many designs and sizes, you’ll have no problem finding one to perfectly suit your bathroom.

Sometimes referred to as shower cubicles, a shower enclosure can be positioned almost anywhere in your bathroom, if the plumbing allows it.

The corner is the most common position for a shower enclosure, but you can fit one between two walls to save space.

Choosing the right enclosure is not as easy as you may think, so we’ve created this buying guide to point you in the right direction.

IF YOU JUST WANT TO DIVE RIGHT IN – CLICK ONE OF THE IMAGES BELOW AND DISCOVER YOUR DREAM SHOWER ENCLOSURE AT BIG BATHROOM SHOP!

Why buy a shower enclosure?

Firstly, it’s important to determine which type of bathroom your shower enclosure will be for.

Is it for an en-suite or the main family bathroom?

In a busy family bathroom, the shower enclosure needs to withstand everyday bangs, slams and knocks, so it’s worth paying that bit extra to ensure quality and durability. If it’s for a small en-suite, then you will need to look at space saving designs.

There are many reasons why you should buy a shower enclosure for your bathroom, the main one being is that it provides a stylish and practical showering solution, compared to a bath.

With a shower enclosure, you can step in and out with ease, and there are many designs available to suit any bathroom. A shower enclosure is also ideal for replacing a bath that’s never really used.

Milano Portland bi-fold shower door

How to choose a shower enclosure – things to consider

Before buying a shower enclosure, there’s several things you need to think about first. You’ll need to take the available space into consideration and decide what type of shower enclosure you would like such as a walk-in shower or a regular shower cubicle.

Is the shower enclosure for an en-suite or the main family bathroom? This can influence the type of enclosure that’s right for your requirements. With careful planning, it’s possible to install a shower cubicle into a small space, which can help to free up the main bathroom to ease the morning rush. Consider the available space and the height of the room. Pivot or bi-fold shower doors are ideal for fitting into a compact space such as between two walls.

Where will the shower enclosure be fitted? Will it be in the corner or in a separate enclosed area? This has an impact on the type of shower tray and enclosure you need. For example, if you plan to fit a shower in a central position against the wall, you’ll need a d-shape shower enclosure.

As well as considering the type of shower enclosure, you should also take note of the smaller details.

  • It’s a good idea to choose an enclosure with quick release wheels (featured on sliding and bi-fold shower doors), as they make cleaning your shower a whole lot easier.
  • Consider the glass thickness, and if the glass has an easy-clean protective coating.
  • Magnetic self-close seals on doors are important to ensure a perfect fit and to prevent leaks.
  • Concealed cover caps and strips hide fixings to create a seamless finish
  • Sliding and bi-fold doors need high quality rollers to ensure long lasting durability and a smooth sliding action. Avoid doors with plastic rollers, as they need replacing often.
  • Ensure the glass meets British Safety Standards, so look out for EN-12150 and/or EN-14428 certifications in the specification.
  • Wall profiles and frames are available in chrome, white and black finishes, so you can create a coordinated scheme.
Thick framed chrome corner shower cubicle with swivel door

How much are shower enclosures?

Shower enclosures vary greatly in price, but at Big Bathroom Shop you can expect to pay from:

  • £240 for a quadrant enclosure
  • £142 for a bi-fold shower door
  • £154 for a sliding shower door
  • £154 for a pivot shower door
  • £171 for a corner shower cubicle
  • £220 for a walk-in shower and tray
  • £180 for a wet room shower enclosure and drain

There are several things that affect the cost of a shower enclosure such as the glass thickness – the thicker this is, the more you can expect to pay, and obviously the size too. A large walk-in shower will cost more than a 760mm bi-fold shower door. But, whatever your budget, you should buy the best quality you can afford.

What types of shower enclosures are available?

Shower enclosures are available in a wide range of styles and sizes to suit any requirement. They all feature toughened safety glass for complete peace of mind. The main shower cubicle types are:

  • Quadrant enclosures: are curved and designed to fit into a corner.
  • Pivot shower doors: open into the bathroom.
  • Bi-fold shower doors: open inwards to save space
  • Sliding shower doors: tend to be larger sizes and can be used to replace a bath.
  • Steam shower cabins: offer the luxury of a steam shower combined with multi-function showering.
  • Walk in showers: create an ultra-modern look and offer a spacious showering area.
walk in shower with white shower tray and single entry

Does shower enclosure glass thickness matter?

Shower enclosures are made from toughened safety glass, which comes in various thicknesses, and this has an influence on the price. At the lower end, cheaper shower cubicles feature 4mm glass, mid-range enclosures use 6mm glass and at the top end, 8mm glass is used. The thickness of the glass is not the only indicator of quality, the hinges, rollers and wheels all play a part too.

8mm toughened glass: a premium option that offers the highest structural integrity for a frameless shower enclosure. Extremely tough and durable, 8mm glass is perfect for adding luxury to any bathroom.

6mm toughened glass: provides a safe, sturdy and durable option. A more affordable choice than 8mm glass, this mid-range option is ideal if you’re looking for something more study than entry level 4mm glass.

4mm toughened glass: the minimum glass thickness for frameless shower enclosures. 4mm glass provides quality but at an affordable price.

Easy-clean glass

Some shower enclosures feature easy-clean glass to make cleaning a breeze. At the point of manufacture, a special coating is applied to a single side of the glass – this helps to prevent the build-up of dirt, grime, oil, limescale, stains and streaks – which means your shower enclosure will look like new for longer.

Thick chrome framed large rectangular shower with white shower tray

What size shower enclosure do I need?

The size of your shower enclosure is mainly determined by the available space and layout of your bathroom. If you have a large bathroom, then you may want to consider a walk-in shower, but if there’s not much space, a bi-fold door or quadrant enclosure offers a space-saving option. Next, we explain how to measure for a shower enclosure.

How to measure for a shower enclosure

When measuring for a shower enclosure you will need the height, width and depth of the space where the enclosure or shower cubicle is to be installed.

Make sure to double check the measurements to be on the safe side. Here’s some tips on how to measure for a shower enclosure.

  • Take the shape of the edging of the shower tray into account. If the tray has square edging, then take the measurement from the edge, but if it’s rounded, the measurement needs to be taken from the point where the curve ends.
  • If the shower cubicle is going to be fitted between two walls, you will need to take three measurements at three different heights. This is because the distance between the walls is unlikely to be the same all the way up. Shower doors and glass panels have an adjustment tolerance to ensure a perfect fit for out-of-true walls.
  • For an enclosure that’s going to be fitted into a corner, you will need to measure from the outside of the shower tray to the wall on both sides.
  • If you have an old enclosure, and want to replace it like for like, then simply take the dimensions of the existing enclosure to save time.
bi fold shower door

Shower enclosures for small bathrooms

Small shower enclosures such as bi-fold doors start from 700mm wide, and these are ideal for a bathroom with limited space. Quadrant shower units are great for saving space too, and they provide an alternative to a rectangular or square corner enclosure. The rounded front maximises floor space, and the sliding doors allow for easy access.

Another solution for a small bathroom is to fit a shower cubicle and tray between two walls. You could opt for a hinged, pivot, sliding or bi-fold shower door. If space is tight, choose a sliding or bi-fold door.

See our blog on the best shower enclosures for small bathrooms.

White rectangular walk in shower tray

Shower enclosures with trays

Shopping for a shower enclosure and tray bundle means that you don’t have to worry about choosing a tray separately and it also ensures a perfect fit.

Modern shower trays are lightweight yet extremely durable, and thanks to advances in technology, they are a lot more slimline too compared to what they used to be. Some measure just 30mm high for a much neater finish to your bathroom.

If you do need to raise up your shower tray to allow for plumbing above the floor, you can buy leg and panel kits separately. Another advantage of buying a shower enclosure with a tray is that you can save money on purchasing them separately.

Find out how to choose the best shower tray in our expert buying guide.

double entry walk in shower with single glass screen and black shower tray

Frameless shower enclosures

If you want to create a cleaner, more contemporary look, then choose a frameless shower enclosure. Ideal for enhancing a sense of space, frameless shower cubicles are easy to clean and look super sleek. You could fit a frameless shower door with a matching side panel or a wetroom glass screen that’s either fitted direct to the floor, or on a low-level shower tray.

quadrant shower enclosure

Quadrant shower enclosures

Quadrant shower enclosures are the ideal choice if you’re looking to save space within your bathroom. Perfect for en-suites and small bathrooms, quadrant enclosures feature a curved front that maximises space. Designed to fit into a corner, quadrant showers usually have one or two sliding doors, but some do have hinged doors. There’s also offset quadrant enclosures available, which is where one side is longer than the other.

Advantages:

  • Saves space
  • Ideal for small bathrooms
  • Range of sizes to choose from
  • Stylish and practical
corner entry shower enclosure

Corner shower enclosures

Corner shower enclosures are designed to fit snugly into the corner of the bathroom, which helps to save space. They come in various sizes including 760mm, 800mm and 900mm, and feature two doors that slide open from the outer corner, allowing for easy access.

Advantages:

  • Helps to save space
  • Range of sizes to choose from
  • Stylish and practical design
  • Sliding doors for easy access
Recess shower with black-framed sliding shower door and shower tray

Shower doors

Shower doors come in a wide range of sizes to suit any bathroom, and they can be fitted between two walls or into a corner with a side panel to form a full shower cubicle.

Types of shower doors include bi-fold, sliding, pivot and hinged.

Sliding shower doors help to save space, and look great when fitted into a recess. One panel is fixed to the frame, while the other slides back behind allowing for easy access.

Bi-fold shower doors feature two or more panels. One panel is fixed to the frame, and the other panel folds back on hinges, meaning it won’t take up valuable space in a small bathroom.

Pivot shower doors rotate on a pin mechanism and open into the bathroom. The far edge of the door swings back into the shower area, and therefore doesn’t need as much clearance as a hinged door.Hinged shower doors open into the bathroom, so you will need to check if there’s enough clearance to allow for this. A hinged shower door provides wide access to the shower, and is best suited to a spacious bathroom.

Walk in shower with black shower tray and frame.

Walk-in showers

Walk-in showers have become a popular choice for adding sleek, minimal style to the bathroom, which has been mainly driven by the desire to create a wetroom look. A walk-in shower with a low-profile shower tray allows you to get the wetroom look but without all the hassle and expense of tanking the walls and floor.

Walk-in shower cubicles feature a glass panel and a slimline shower tray, with one end left open so you can simply walk in. One of the main advantages of a walk-in shower is that it is low maintenance and easy to clean as there’s no tracks or hard to reach parts. Another advantage of a walk-in shower, is that it’s ideal for those who are less mobile as there’s no doors to open or close. You could even make room for a walk-in shower by removing a bath that hardly ever gets used.

Advantages:

  • Can be used to replace a bath
  • Spacious showering and drying area
  • Creates a contemporary look
  • Optional end panels available
  • Range of sizes
walk in shower with black frame in white room

Wet room glass screens

Available in a range of sizes, wet room glass screens create the ultimate minimal look. Suitable for fitting direct to the floor or on top of a low-level shower tray, a wet room glass screen protects items such as loo roll and towels from getting covered in splashes of water in a wet room environment. A wet room screen can be fitted on its own or combined with another screen, so you can create a bespoke showering area.

Advantages:

  • Can be fitted direct to the floor or with a low-level shower tray
  • Can be combined with another glass screen
  • Creates a sleek, minimal look
  • Range of sizes

Shower cabins

Shower cabins deliver an amazing showering experience and are a great option for adding spa-style luxury to your bathroom. They are moulded from acrylic into a one-piece design, and typically incorporate a power shower and body jets, and some even feature a seat, mirror and lights.

For the ultimate in relaxation, you may want to choose a luxury steam shower cabin, which features a steam generator and Bluetooth speakers, so you can listen to your favourite music as you unwind.

Advantages:

  • Delivers a spa-style shower
  • All-in-one design
  • Range of designs
Bathroom with recessed shower with frameless hinged double doors and white square shower tray

How do you clean a shower enclosure?

Cleaning a shower enclosure isn’t the best of jobs, but unfortunately, it’s something that needs to be done on a regular basis. Shower enclosure glass can soon become clouded with soap and shampoo deposits, taking away its shine. To keep your enclosure looking its best, make sure to follow these four top tips.

  • Clean shower glass regularly to prevent the build-up of limescale.
  • Use a shower squeegee to wipe clean and help dry off surfaces. This will help remove hard-water deposits.
  • A glass cleaner will help keep shower glass sparkling clean.
  • White vinegar is also ideal for keeping shower glass sparkling.

Our blog on how to clean a shower enclosure offers more handy tips and advice.

DIY tools

How to install a shower enclosure

Unless you have DIY experience, installing a shower enclosure is best left to a professional bathroom fitter. But if you do have the necessary skills, then take a look at our guide on how to fit a shower enclosure for step-by-step instructions.

To install a shower enclosure, you will need an electric drill, sealant, spirit level and a screwdriver. The wall channels will need to be fitted to the wall first, followed by the glass panel/door. Once you are happy with the positioning of the glass panels, everything can be then be securely fitted into place. The handle can be fitted, and then you can silicone seal around the outer edges of the enclosure.

So, that covers everything you need to know about choosing the best shower enclosure for your bathroom. At BigBathroomShop, we have a huge range of shower enclosures in a great choice of sizes and styles to suit any requirement – from black shower doors to sleek walk-in showers and much more.

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