How to Install a Simple Shower Door.
Installing Heavy Glass Shower Doors is easier than installing American Style Framed Doors. At least in a way it is. There are fewer parts, less measuring and cutting of anoyingly flimsy aluminum strips and the total amount of time for a heavy glass shower door is a fraction of the inexpensive versions. However, heavy glass shower doors are heavy and fragile and expensive, so the job is nerve-wracking and you have to move slowly at all times – like a sloth, when you are in the bathroom. Everything is in slow motion and everyone is tense and sweating. Tempers flare and endurance is stretched beyond the breaking point. “I can’t take this anymore!” You will scream and your partner will say, “We haven’t even picked the glass up yet.” Basically, if you enjoy defusing bombs, then this is the job for you. OR – if you enjoy installing heavy glass showers then could could probably defuse bombs for a living. But that’s just my opinion. I can say all this because you will save sometimes fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars by installing your own shower systems. Prices vary across the country, but quite often you will be saving two hundred and fifty dollars per hour of your installtion time, not including the time it takes to pick up the glass.
Exploding Glass: Tempered Glass is very strong but the edges are sensitive. How Strong is it? Never let the edges of the glass touch the tile. Always set the glass on wood or rubber blocks. If the glass ever even touches the tile, the glass may get chipped, but even worse, it may explode. That is one of the major differences between glass and wood. Wood seldom explodes. Glass explodes pretty often. Not really. I can only remember one customer out of hundreds, that had his glass explode and that was before I wrote these pages. We argued over who was going to pay for the glass; finally he let me pay for half. He never knew that he hit with the glass because the glass explodes at the same moment it is hit. That happens at work occasionally. Our workers will swear they didn’t hit anything but I’ve noticed the glass only explodes when they are going through a doorway.
To avoid exploding glass you must never let the glass touch the tile. Duck tape on the bottom corners will help. When setting the glass into the opening, it really helps to have one person with a suction cup on the outside and another person on the inside guiding the bottom of the door.
Time Required: The good news is that for a single door, you can expect to spend between one and two hours on installation. It may take intestinal fortitude but it is over pretty quick
Rent a Suction Cup: A suction cup is a great help for a single door, but it’s not essential. In the coming video of an installation Aric and Brendon do not use a suction cup. Nevertheless, I recommend renting the cup. Make sure to have a helper on the other side guiding the bottom of the door into place..
USE a Helper: One person on the inside and one on the outside. Note: The screws that come with the hinges are two inches long. Three inch screws in chrome and brass are available. However the three inch screws are stainless or brass and very soft and very hard to get all the way in without a pilot hole. I don’t remember a situation where they were necessary.
Overview of Installation: Install hinges on glass, Set glass in opening on shims, Mark holes. Remove glass. Drill holes. Set glass back in opening. Screw in screws. Remove Shims.
Note: For 3/8″ glass use two thick gaskets. For 1/2″ glass use two thin gaskets. This may vary with the model of hinge. Instructions are included.
1. Install hinges on the glass with the screw heads to the INSIDE of the Shower.
Install Hinge on glass first: You will notice when you install the hinge on the glass that it can slide up and down and in and out. Center the hinge in the vertical direction and shoot for 3/16″ between glass edge and outer edge of hinge. After tightening down the screws operate the hinge to make sure you have that 3/16″ and the glass doesn’t hit the base plate of the hinge. If the glass binds, it may explode. (I have to quit saying that)
2. Set the door on the sill on top of shims 7/16″ thick. I use wood shingles. Make sure the door is high enough to clear the highest point of the sill by 7/16″.
Note: You may want to snap a door sweep made of plastic and vinyl onto the bottom of your door after your finished installing the door. So, leave 7/16 between the bottom of the door and the highest point of the sill. Most of the time seals on the sides of the door are not needed.
3. With the door set in the opening and clearance is right on both sides, mark the hole locations for the hinge. A helper is good.
Note: Either a pen, pencil or yellow pencil generally work well. Side clearance is supposed to be 3/16″ but that depends on how rough the tile is. There is considerable room for error. This is where two people are really a big help. I have done it alone. You have to install screws on one side only and then open the door to install the other two screws.
4. Remove the door and improve the marks you have made
Go over the marks, changing the dots into a cross. This is so that you can tell if the drill bit begins to wander.
5. Drill the holes precisely at your mark. Drill through the tile and Cement board but not into the wood. You want the screws to grab the wood stud. Sheet rock doesn’t count for anything. The screws are 2″ long. If your tile is applied directly to sheet rock, and there is no stud back there, then you’re in a heap of trouble. See the note above about studs.
A spade drill bit works best. 1/4 inch. This is included with your shower door. Some tile is extremely hard. The spade drill bit will work but you may need to spray it with water to keep it cool. Get a friend to spray while you lean into the bit. If the spade bit gets too hot the carbide will fall off. Most tile is soft and easy to drill.
6. Hammer in the Anchors
Use anchors whether or not you hit a stud. The 2″ screws will only go into the stud about 1/2″ but the presence of the stud strengthens the wall in the neighborhood of the door. The screws and anchor system is strong. Even one screw will hold a heavy door with just an anchor. But don’t try it! It may explode. If you applied the tile directly to sheet rock then I would not recommend a heavy glass shower door.
7. Cut off the part of the anchor that sticks out.
There are two kinds of plastic anchors. Either one works fine. The cylindrical kind, I have found generally will not allow themselves to be pounded in all the way and so they too, need to be chopped off.
8. Set the door back into the opening and screw in the screws. This is not a roto-hammer; it’s an impact driver, designed for screws. We aupply hardened screw driver bits of the right size for each screw.
We use an impact driver, NOT a rotohammer, for screwing in the screws. Doing it by hand is fine if you have arms like Popeye. If you want your installation to look professional, Don’t bugger up the screws. If you are using a drill motor, try this: Lean into the drill motor and squeeze the trigger for just a second. Ease off the pressure and allow the Phillips to reset into the screw. Then lean into the motor again and tighten a bit more. This should allow you to screw it up real good.
9. Install the Handle.
Remove the shims from under the door. Tighten up the hinge screws that hold the glass again with a #3 Phillips. Alternate screws and get them real tight. Do not use a drill. You might want to tighten them again in a month. Snap the vinyl on the bottom edge of the glass, and wash it. You’re done.
10. No matter how many of these I’ve installed, a brand new door always looks dangerous and scary. When the owners come to try out the heavy glass door, it is a good idea to scream and jump out of the way. Better yet, dive on the owner shielding them with your body. Don’t worry, I have never (very seldom) heard of one exploding once it is installed. They explode much less often than the thin-glass American style.
This shower door is actually two doors, like a saloon door. It used brushed satin chrome hardware, which in real life had a very nice slightly bluish color.