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  • Writer's pictureElla S

Shower Enclosure Guide

There is no standard size or shape of the shower enclosure. This can make selecting a shower enclosure daunting but at the same time with all the choices out there it has also never been easier to pick your perfect enclosure. With this guide, we aim to make selecting your new shower enclosure a simple and hassle-free task.

Placing of the Shower Enclosure

Before deciding on the style of shower enclosure, it is important to understand how it will fit within the bathroom. To do this configure your bathroom using real measurements of the other pieces within the bathroom. This will help in giving you an idea of the size and style of the enclosure to select. When doing this you need to consider moving in and out of the enclosure, so think about how easy it will be to open a door or step out without colliding with other elements of the bathroom.


Types of Shower Enclosures

Once you’ve looked at your bathroom layout, you will be able to consider the types of enclosures that are available.

Recessed or Corner Installation

This is the first decision as it pertains to where your shower enclosure is going within the bathroom. Recess enclosures are in simple terms just shower doors. They are designed to be fitted with three walls surrounding the door, this can either be done by creating stud walls or in an alcove. A corner installation is where a glass side panel is used with your shower door. It is important you decide this as some manufacturers’ shower doors are only supplied with the profiles to suit one style of installation.

Shape of Shower Enclosure

Next, you need to decide the shape of the enclosure you would like. The main types of enclosures are rectangular, square or quadrant. For recess enclosures, your main choices are between square and rectangular. For corners, you can also have quadrants.

Square enclosures are possibly the most commonly used style of shower enclosure, this is partly because the shape and size are easy to fit into a wide variety of bathrooms. Rectangular enclosures build on from squares and offer that extra length in the showering area. A preferred choice for those wanting to create a wet room style look, the longer length of the rectangular shape enables you to fit a walk-in shower.

An alternative to the more formal shapes of square and rectangular enclosures, quadrant enclosures are specifically designed to be installed within the corner of a room. They are ideal for tightly spaced bathrooms, due to the corner being replaced with a flowing curve and the entrance is usually positioned within this curve to free up space in the bathroom. For those wanting more space in the shower, offset quadrants offer slightly more length creating the same feel as a rectangular enclosure of walking into the showering space. Quintets are an alternative to the quadrant and offer a more angular option that is great when there is no room for curvature within the bathroom floor space.


Types of Shower Doors

When choosing your type of shower enclosure, you need to consider who will be using it. Whether it’s being placed in an en-suite or main family bathroom. This will help in deciding the style of door that is best suited to the user. Once your type of door is selected you can go on to picking a colour finish and any other finishing touches such as handles.

Selecting the Shower Enclosure Glass

Shower enclosures come in various glass thicknesses. At James Hargreaves Bathrooms, we have enclosures in various thicknesses. As a principal rule, the thicker the glass the stronger the door and fixings. 8 and 10mm are your best options for getting a greater variety of choices. They are seen as being extremely sturdy and tough, this lends to them being the ideal thickness for frameless doors and panels. It is often said you hear a clunk when closing a 10mm thick door due to its hefty strength and sturdy fixings.

Hinged Doors

Hinge shower doors are one of the most commonly seen modern shower doors. Hinged doors open out into the bathroom, operating much like any other door within the home. Due to this, you need to ensure there is enough clearance around your shower for your door to open safely without anything impeding it. The handing of these doors can be chosen so they will suit a wide range of installations.

Pivot Doors

Pivot doors are similar to hinged doors in the fact that they swing outwards. The hinge in a pivot door sits slightly in from the wall profile, this causes a portion of the door to swing into the enclosure while the rest comes outwards. This means the door requires less outward swinging room than a hinged door, making it ideal for bathrooms where a hinged door would obstruct other elements.

Bifold Doors

These doors are made of multiple panels that are connected with hinges. The most common bifold doors have two panels and hinges that allow the panels to be folded against each other to create an opening within the shower enclosure. These doors are ideal for small bathrooms as they won’t take up any extra space when opening.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors require no space other than that of the shower enclosure. With sliding doors, the shower door is on runners that allow it to slide behind the fixed panel. When choosing the size of the door, it is always advisable to consider the opening aperture, generally the shorter the door the smaller the opening. These doors look spectacular, especially in corner or recess installations and with the curvature of quadrant enclosures.


Side Panels for Shower Enclosures

An essential part of corner enclosures, side panels complete the full enclosure. By combining different sized panels and doors, you can create the size of enclosure you require to suit your bathroom. The majority of shower side panels today have a frameless design to create a sense of openness when in the shower. To ensure a perfect fit with your shower enclosure, you need to select the correct side panel to suit your door. We would recommend choosing from the brand to ensure the fixings are compatible. Some manufacturers’ side panels can be used with a range of their doors whilst others are dependent on the range and style. This is sometimes made easier when manufacturers included side panels with the door.

Walk-In Showers/Wetroom Panels

An ever-increasing popular choice within the bathroom, walk-in showers remove the door element of an enclosure and are generally installed on a flush-to-floor tray, low-profile shower tray or wet room floor; making them a minimalist’s dream. Usually longer than a standard shower enclosure, the shower head is often positioned at one end with the opening at the opposite end to reduce the spray from the shower head leaving the enclosure.

Deflector panels can be added which are designed to further minimise spray leaving the shower area, these are available hinged or fixed. Hinged deflector panels can be used to provide a wider entrance which is then reduced by moving the deflector panel in line with the fixed panel when showering.

Glass panels are often included in wetrooms to protect sanitaryware from spray from the showerhead. They are available in contemporary frameless options that look almost invisible or with bold striking-coloured frames to create a showstopping piece within the bathroom. The choice is extensive with the option of selecting set configurations or individual components for a bespoke showering area.


Shower Trays

The finishing component, the other half to the shower enclosure set up. Selecting a shower tray goes hand in hand with selecting a shower enclosure. You can pick your shower tray or shower enclosure first, the only thing you need to know is your size and whether the tray needs to be raised to accommodate the plumbing for the waste. Certain shower enclosures come with the tray readily included, so picking a tray isn’t necessary for these. For more in-depth information on shower trays see our shower tray buying guide.


This guide has attempted to cover everything you need to know about buying a shower enclosure. At James Hargreaves Bathroom we have a huge range of enclosures to suit all bathroom decors, in a whole heap of size combinations and colours and if you are still struggling to find one our team are on hand to help find your perfect enclosure.

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