Glossary of Shower Door Terms

This glossary is provided to help you understand shower door construction. The definitions come from the Bath Enclosure Manufacturer’s Association (BEMA) website.

Barrier-free: In terms of handicap access, this refers to an enclosure system that has minimal or no bottom track and openings that are wheelchair-accessible.

Buttress: the raised portion of a shower curb that is on more than one level.

Bypass: a door consisting of two or more panels that run in parallel tracks.

Clear glass: Transparent glass.

Curb: The raised edge or border of a shower, usually made of tile, marble or fiberglass.

Curved glass: glass that has been specially formed to fit into a circular floor plan.

Custom enclosure: an enclosure that requires specially cut glass and framework.

Drip system: A device designed to prevent water from dripping onto the floor when the door is opened.

Etched glass: glass that has had a pattern cut into its surface, usually by an acid treatment.

Fixed panels: the glass or plastic panels of an enclosure that do not move.

Framed: a bath enclosure system that mounts all glass or plastic panels in a metal frame.

Frameless: a bath enclosure system that minimizes the amount of metal used to hold the system panels and door in place.

Heavy Glass: glass used in many European-style frameless enclosures. Usually 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch in thickness.

Hinge Door: a shower door that has a jointed metal hinge on the side of the door.

In-line Panels: fixed panels that are “in a line” with the shower door.

Laminated Glass: glass panel created by uniting layers of glass in order to increase its strength.

Neo-angle: a shower that consists of a center door with a fixed panel at an angle on either side of the door.

Obscure Glass: glass that lets light through, but is not totally transparent.

Patterned Glass: glass that has a repeating shape embedded in it.

Pivot Door: a shower door that rotates on two metal pivots on the top and bottom of the door.

Powder Coat: a technique for applying paint to aluminum shower door frames. The aluminum is covered with a powder of dry paint particles and is then baked in an oven. This causes the powder to melt and then harden into a tough, colorful finish.

Reflective Glass: glass that bounces back at least some of the light that strikes it.

Return Panels: fixed panels that are set at a 90° angle to the shower door.

Silk-screened Glass: glass that has graphic images silk-screened on the surface to give the illusion of etched, textured or patterned glass.

Sliding Panels: The moving panels in a bypass door.

Steam Bath: an enclosure that is usually equipped with special plumbing to create steam. The enclosure itself either runs from the floor to the ceiling or has a top to contain the steam.

Tempered Glass: glass that has been annealed or strengthened by a process of gradually heating and cooling. Once a piece of glass has been tempered it cannot be cut. If it breaks, it breaks into many small pieces. By code, all glass shower doors and enclosures must use tempered glass.

Textured Glass: glass that has been made with a texture on its surface that creates a translucent effect.

Tinted Glass: glass that has a color running through it.