Frameless Shower Glass Mounting Options?

August 23, 2007

I am having two custom showers built for my remodel project, and need to select a method for mounting the shower glass. I have a tile installer and will use a glass shop, and am acting as my own GC.

Method 1 uses a channel screwed to the shower curb and wall. The channel is mounted after the shower is floated, and then the tile is laid up against the channel, covering at least part of it. The screw holes for the channel are drilled through the water barrier, filled with silicone caulk, and then screws are inserted. With method 1, there is the option of black channel so that when you look down through the glass you won't notice the rough edge.

Method 2 involves laying the tile up to a line on the curb and wall, then the glass shop comes and silicones the glass in place, directly to the mortar bed, no channel used. Then the rest of the tile is laid, capturing the glass. No penetrations through the water barrier. No visible channel.

I was ready to go with Method 1, but had a 2nd glass guy out last night who told me about Method 2. Sounds like a nice clean look. What would you do? I need to decide fast.

Comments (38)

  • mahatmacat1

    Good for you for researching it now; I was told "call us back when the tile is done" when I called glass places initially, and didn't press it. If I'd been able to research glass installation adequately before the tiling was done, I would have gone with 2. Unfortunately, we didn't. It would have been my first choice. Makes me kind of sick when I think about how much I would have preferred this look :(.

    I wonder what Mongo has to say about this--sure hope he sees this thread.

    I was also told today by one installer (does good high-end installations, acc. to their website)that if we take the glass to the ceiling, they could do an in-ceiling mount similar to the in-tile mount that would preclude their needing to do as much intrusive drilling.

    Mongo, calling mongo...hope some experts can weigh in on this!

    One thing I can offer that we *are* doing is probably getting "Shower Guard"'s no more expensive than regular, it's clear(like starphire glass), and the reviews so far are splendid, evidently. Cuts maintenance down significantly. You might want to see if it's available in your area.

    Here is a link that might be useful: in case you want to look at this...

  • tom_p_pa

    I would NOT use either of those methods. Both methods will give you issues. Both methods are burying the glass into the tile. You will get water in there at some point, and mold, and repairs will be major in trying to get the glass out if it breaks or you get water penetration. Your tile and grout and everything will need to hacked apart. You are better off setting the glass on top of the tile. Tile is your best protection. Your methods break the tile surface and make more seams by installing tile up to the glass. When properly installed and sealed, screws through the water barrier are NOT an issue.

    If it was my bathroom, I would do one of 2 ways:

    1) After your tile is set, a channel is screwed on top of the tile surface. A bead of glass setting silicone is applied into the channel and the glass set into place (this is the bonding step). Next the channel is waterproofed by applying silicone to the channel edge that meets the glass.

    2) Go with a true frameless installation. After the tile is set, you use special brackets and hinges that are screwed into the tile that clamp down onto the glass. This is my preferred installation.

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  • MongoCT

    Caveat: With the exception of a couple of times, I don't install the glass. A specialty guy comes in and handles the glass.

    That said, the method that Tom mentioned is much more common. It allows a bit of flexibility during the glass installation, as the brackets hold the glass, and there is a bit of play when hanging the glass in the brackets. It also allows the walls to be out of plumb a bit and still get a successful installation.

    I'd much prefer the brackets over an exposed, or surface mounted, "U" channel. Less metal to look at. However, the minimalist "flush" or "buried" U-channel, where the channel is used but embedded in the tile, it looks great. Nice and clean, glass-to-tile, minimal metal.

    Regarding the minimalist or flush "U" channel look, I'd take that over the exposed channel. Here the channel is embedded in the wall. Your best success is with floated walls, as they'll be dead-on plumb/level/square, and you already are going that route. Bravo!

    The channels I've seen come from either Stylmark or CR Laurence. Either get the black anodized channel, or have the installer paint the inside of the channel black.

    On the floor I wouldn't screw through your floor membrane to secure the bottom channel to the floor. Set the channel in a bed of silicone, then the channel will be surrounded on two sides by substrate/tile. Afterwards mask, then silicon the glass/channel to the tile. Nice and watertight, no way for water to get into the "U".

    On the walls I'll use a few screws to attach the channel to the wall's framing. Stainless screws. Again, a bead of silicon first, then bed the channel, then screw, then a dab/smear of silicon over the screw heads. Tile up to the sides of the channel to hid the channel.

    For full-height glass panels, there is a ceiling channel that is deeper than the standard channel. It allows you to have a glass panel captured on three sides, floor, wall, and ceiling, or just floor and ceiling.

    You slide the glass panel up high into the deeper ceiling channel, then swing the bottom in and drop it onto the floor channel.

    There are indeed other methods or techniques. I'm sure someone with more knowledge/experience will come along.

    The flush installations do need to be properly detailed. As Tom mentioned, they offer a weak point of sorts when compared to the more common bracket installation.

    Almost forgot...I'd prefer the glass to be installed in a channel versus just sitting it on pads and having the tile bump up to it. I think that's your "Method 2."

    The edges of the glass need to be coddled, the channel will do that.

    Do not forget, the inside of the channel has to be black.


  • mahatmacat1

    Tom & mongo, thanks! Candi, this gives you (and me too) so much to work with.

    May I ask a clarifying-followup: so if we have tile in place already, would the first choice be to go to the ceiling (painted ceiling, not tiled) and put in a recessed deeper channel up there, and then tom's choice #2, clamps (brackets) on the sides and bottom? This is for a half-wall between the tub and shower, no door at this point (hoping to get by without it). If not, what would be the least obtrusive yet secure installation?

    Another question: should we definitely take it to the top or have it be open for a little bit between glass and ceiling? Since we won't have a door, there will still be plenty of circulation. If we do get a door, I guess we'd have to get one that only goes up partway, which might look odd if we already have the panel going all the way to the ceiling, yes?

    With the clamps, where is silicone involved and will it need to be replaced periodically?

    Thanks again...

  • candibarr

    Thanks so much, everyone, for the thoughtful and detailed responses! I will use black channel and follow Mongo's recommendations for mounting. I will try to post pics when done. The shower curbs are wrapped in Kerdi, and if the channel is secured with silicone and the tile-glass interface properly detailed I should be protected from water intrusion problems.

  • MongoCT


    I wouldn't try to retrofit a recessed channel in an already tiled wall. It's definitely a method that needs to be planned for from the start, blocking the framing, membrane integrity, etc.

    Not to mention the floor, slope of the curb where the glass mets the floor, etc, etc.

    In your case I'd go with panels secured by brackets. It'll give a nice clean look. I think the bracketed installations look great.

    With regards to the glass going to the ceiling, that's up to you. The space you're constructing, the overall look, etc. How big the footprint of the room is compared to the closeness and height of the glass panels. Will it seem like a huge wall of glass that becomes too imposing in a smallish room, etc.

    Things like that.

    If you do go floor-to-ceiling, since your bath is tiled I'd still do it with brackets, since that was it was probably designed to be With floor-to-ceiling glass you can have a door that's lower than the ceiling, with another piece of glass over the door. Think transom.

    When using brackets, no, there is no periodic upkeep. The brackets are screwed through the tile, through the backerboard, and into the framing. A bead of silicon is usually used between the tile and the bracket (depends on the bracket, some need it, some don't), and a dab of silicon in the screw hole before the screw is driven.

    Your installer will be able to help you out with specifics.


  • mahatmacat1

    mongo, thanks again :) It's so hard to discuss these things without pictures. I definitely wouldn't retrofit a channel into a *tiled* wall--I was thinking of retrofitting a channel up in the drywalled ceiling...

    I just got off the phone with a pretty high-end glass company--the rep. was recommending doing a piece of glass from the top of the half-wall to the ceiling, into a channel either recessed or surface mounted, and then *only with silicone* on the side and bottom edges. The silicone would not be the kind we have to periodically clean out and replace.

    WOW. That could be a beautiful clean look, IF you think it would be stable enough. He said they do it all the time, and their portfolio is pretty impressive. He would actually prefer it to a piece of glass that didn't go all the way to the top because it's more stable--only one exposed edge rather than two.

    He said that it would look a *bit* odd but not entirely odd if we later went with a door that was lower--I like your transom idea too. I really don't want a steam enclosure, though, since it's just drywall (or greenboard--I think...but definitely not tile and no redguard up there or anything like that--not steam-worthy).

    So the reduced, simmered-down version of my question: do you think that the top-channel and side-silicone (no clamps) mount, for a 28x64 piece of glass, would be enough?

    Thanks. I missed the chance to do the optimal design, as candi will be able to do (you lucky girl), but I am consoled by Tom's point that he (you, Tom :)) prefers tile-mounted installations. I want to do this one right. There's not as much information available online as there is for, say, tile...

  • MongoCT

    Secured in three sides? That would certainly be stable enough.

    Sounds like a wiener!


  • mahatmacat1

    Yuck :)

    Thanks, mongo. So the silicone would be stable enough to count as being "secured"? If so, my problem is solved.

  • MongoCT

    Silicon gives a great bond.

    I hate to say this, but the way things go on this forum... may as well ask them if they are going to use pads of some sort to give a slight cushion between the glass and the tile.

    You really don't want the weight of the glass bearing directly on the tile. But again, feel free to defer to them since they know more about this type of installation that I do.

    Again, that's not a type of installation that's an area of expertise for me, but common sense to me means a buffer of some sort between the two.

    Another dumb question. Ask them how the edge of the glass will look in this type of installation. Would it make sense painting a black stripe on the tile where the glass will sit? I understand that the edge itself will be concealed, but will the light that refracts through the thickness of the glass itself allow the tile that the glass bears upon to be seen?

    And...ask to see an installation similar to yours. With the same ceiling channel, either recessed or surface mounted. With the glass siliconed to the wall and half wall. Take a good look THROUGH the glass to see if you can see the edge of the glass right here the edge butts the wall or floor.

    See if it meets your standard.

    Again, these guys gave you a warm fuzzy, and that's a Martha-esque good thing.

    But it never hurts to ask.

    The answers sometimes hurt, but the questions are free.

    Feeling your pain,

  • mahatmacat1

    *Excellent* points, mongo--thanks so much. I'll ask those questions and see what I learn. Really helpful and no pain so far! Actually, the pain this morning is in my lower back as I spent two hours recoloring grout by hand in between onyx slices last night. Nowhere *near* done, but at least DD is doing it with me so it's kind of like a quilting bee (in a really tight space).

  • MongoCT

    Then I am feeling your pain.

    Well, a similar pain. I had 26 yards of mulch to spread yesterday and today, and am just finishing up a pergola and night lighting out by the pool. Ah...home work.

    A little work at ground level, a little work'd think it would even things out and thus be pain free.

    Oh well...


  • mahatmacat1

    WOW! That is some serious work you put in. LOL about the evening-out..but at least your pain isn't unbalanced :)

  • pete_p_ny

    I had issues with my buried glass in a knee wall. Had mold underneath causing mildew smells. I think there is no secure way to seal the tile where it buts up against the glass with these buried set ups. You have grout lines too that can drag in moisture with no good way for it to drain out.

  • mahatmacat1

    Pete, I'm sorry to hear that you have had that experience, but I really appreciate your sharing it. With our luck that would have happened to us, even with our big new it's probably best that we didn't get to have the, there's a question: did you do a buried *channel*, like a metal channel that the tile was built up around? Or just had an open channel in the tile and the glass was set directly in it? I would think a metal channel would keep the water from getting out into the grout, but maybe not...

  • pkirkha1

    We just had a shower installed with clamps and I really like it. We had done another shower with a u channel and do not prefer that method. These are the clamps. Good luck with your decision.

  • mahatmacat1

    Thanks, pkirkha -- may I ask, did they paint the edges that went up against the silicone black or otherwise make them opaque so that you couldn't see through to the bottom?

    Thanks. I like that look too. I really like the look of your bathroom.

  • pkirkha1

    I'm sorry - I don't really understand the question. Here are some more pics that may answer it for you.

  • mahatmacat1

    Thanks for the pic, pkirkha. I wonder if mongo can tell from this pic how the bottom edges were treated. And was there silicone between the glass and the curb and wall?


    I just had a thought, looking at some bath books...would it be possible to run a tiny ledge of tile on the side of the channel, essentially to tile over the channel, attaching the tiles with, say, silicone or Lexel and caulking with color-matched siliconized latex sanded caulk? To make a raised trench, as it were...It would be work, but the channel would be covered and look "built in" without compromising the integrity of the sub-tile area. Lord knows I've done more obsessive stuff in this house already.

    Or would that be problematic if any work needed to be done?

    Or does that even matter?

  • MongoCT

    pkirka's glass is installed with brackets, so the glass is held off the tile.

    No need to do any additional detailing to the edges.

    If you bury the edge of the glass in something, like an aluminum channel, then you want the inside of the channel black so you can't see it through the glass.

    If, theoretically, you were to not use a manufactured channel and were to tile the glass in the wall by creating a channel with just a gap in the tile, and the walls were KErdi, then you'd want to color the Kerdi black, otherwise you could see the orange Kerdi through the glass.

    Again, pkirka's glass is held OFF the tile by the brackets. It does not appear to be abutting it.


  • mahatmacat1

    Thanks, Mongo, I understand now.

    If the glass guy I just saw comes in in any way affordable, I want to go with them, and they're strongly recommending clamps rather than channel to match the aesthetic in the rest of the room. Now all I have to do is redo what our wonderful tile guy did, which is installing the tile on top of the pony wall *flat* rather than sloped into the shower. All the other horizontals were sloped properly, but not this one.


    Any thoughts on removing tile that's been there for a year without damaging the rest of it? At least it's just regular grout and not epoxy, but I'm really concerned about the other tiles...


    Maybe candi, you can learn from this and make sure *all* the surfaces are sloped in that glass will be on. I had noticed that this was flat, before, and thought he knew what he was doing because he definitely made all the rest sloped. But NO.

  • embroiderybee

    Hello all,

    I was reading all the great information on installing frameless shower doors. I have been having problems with choosing the proper install method and wanted to get some advice. I have a 135 degree neo shower that is right next to my Jacuzzi and was looking at going with a "U" header on top with no clamps or fames on the sides and bottom. I will have mitred glass over the Jacuzzi area and am going to have a pivot door which will be between two pieces of glass. The sides would be siliconed and the glass at the bottom would sit on a plastic cushion and then also siliconed. Would the header on top be enough to hold the glass and keep it stable without using clamps on the mitre or a channel or clamps on the bottom? Also, are clamps always better to go with than a u-channel at the bottom? I really want to go with the most secure and nice looking method possible.



  • Garydick_comcast_net

    I too read this thead with great interest as I have seen pictures of bathrooms where the glass panels just appear out of the surrounding materials without any visble means of support - there is no visual obstruction - the tiles / grout lines continue on either side and look almost unbroken. And together with low iron glass this struck me as a great trick.

    I assumed the glass was mounted in channels as Mongo mentioned above but was also wondering about the inevitable eventual dterioration of the caulk (and the consequences of people being slow to notice / replace it). I thought perhaps one solution would be to make sure there is a vertical strip of waterproof membrane behind the wall channel that would be turned out onto the curb at the bottom. That way, if the silicone water seal between the shower and tile were breached, the water would run down the surface of the membrane to the curb (and eventually in to the pan) rather than soaking the backer board and growing mildew.

    Not sure if its practical but here is what I was thinking:

    1) have wood framing behind the wall
    2) My shower side wall has 2 x 5/8 " sheetrock. Cut one away creating a vertical 1 " wide u shape slot to recieve the side channel
    3) run a 6" wide strip of waterproofing membrane in the 1" drywall slot and a couple of inches either side
    4) Install the channel using stainless screws and silicone in holes as described above
    5) install the glass, then tile up to it and add waterproofing silicone bead between tile and glass.

    My question / worry is that it may not solve the issue.. maybe the water when it eventually gets back there would cause mold to grow on the waterproofing membrane?

    As to burying the bottom channel - I was intrigued by the idea of only using silicone rather than drilling into the curb. If I were to fabricate a 1" thick one piece threshold (marble or granite) for the top of the curb and cut a slot wide enough to contain the buried channel for the fixed panel it seems there should be sufficient mechanical support from the threshold to help stabilize the glass base. The threshold would have the slot under the fixed panel and be solid under the door - an elongated "u" shape or tuning fork shape. Again, if the silicone water seal at the marble / glass joint fails, then the water should migrate down to the top of the curb and then into the pan...

    Can anybody comment on whether they have seen a detail like this built or should I give up on the clean see through look in the bathroom books and go with the clips as well? ! I have frosted glass tiles n the shower stall wall and the clear glass emerging from them would look pretty good if I could pull it off.

    Thanks for any input! ............. GaryD

  • napagirl

    Bump .... before it fell off the forum!

  • ladycfp

    If I understand my glass guy correctly, he is installing ours into a channel on top of the durarock and the tile man is tiling right up to it on both sides of it. It will have the membrane underneath it also. Ours is truly frameless, no clamps at all, but will have a metal band all around at the top for added security and visual effect. Anyone care to weigh in on this before the deed is done? They are building a curb today and also building a frame on the wall with 2x4s to accept the glass on the sides. It will have only one tile wall, the back wall, the others are all glass. There will not be a door.

  • Susan Sukup

    My contractor is suggesting routing out a groove in the solid surface (top of pony wall), and up the side wall to receive my glass splash guard. This is a small bathroom and the shower glass does not go up to the ceiling. He will use a waterproof silicone. Please comment as I need to make a decision soon.

  • millworkman

    Groove, clips, or channel are all acceptable methods. Up to you and your installer whichever you are both comfortable with.

  • liamrperry

    Sorry to resurrect this old threat, but we've installed a recessed uchannel in the shower curb and shower wall before we realized it should be black.

    The glass is scheduled to get mounted in a week or so, is there any particular paint we should use to paint the channels? Would basic spray paint work? We already have some of the high heat stuff in matte black.

    Also, is there any issue with the silicone sticking to the paint or scratching of the paint during install?

    Thank you

  • millworkman

    Going to be about impossible to get a good coat of paint to stick to the channel in my opinion. If not impossible, what type of metal is the channel? And yes if it is not adhered well it WILL scratch and come off.

  • liamrperry

    aluminum channel, we would sand it, prime and spray with black paint.

  • millworkman

    In place, not going to happen easy or well.

  • liamrperry

    thanks, we'll go ahead and clean it up with sandpaper then and just go with the aluminum channel rather than painting.

  • P M

    HI-I know this is an old thread but I am searching for a company in Pennsylvania to fabricate and embed the a 3 sided glass shower enclosure with one door into the granite sill. I have not found any who will take care of creating the channel in the granite. So many opinions from different installers!! "exposed channel is cleaner looking" "clips are cleaner looking" "exposed channel will pit" "clips will get mildew in the silicone" "recessed channel will get dirty".....I am wondering how liamrperry's shower glass turned out? Any problems?Thanks.

  • R Z

    I recently had a shower glass panel installed in my bathroom. The glass is 3/8" thick and it was sealed with clear caulking and not silicone . The panel moves a little - how can I get it to be more secure. It has 2 brackets on the side and bottom

  • P M

    HI RZ-you should contact your installer. I just had my glass panels installed and they are rock solid. No movement at all. I tried to respond with uploaded photos twice but it didn't post. I will try to post the photos after this response.

  • P M

    Here are the pictures

  • millworkman

    R Z, post up a pic of two and it should help you get answers. It may be better to start your own thread rather than a 13 year old one as many will not loo at it for that reason.

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