Frameless Shower Walls - Header Question

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by dcpete816, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. dcpete816

    dcpete816 New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    San Francisco
    I'm putting a nice corner tile shower in and wanted to go with the "frameless" glass look. The tile will be all the way up two walls, but not on the ceiling. The glass walls will not go to the ceiling, but be about 7 feet tall. There will be 3 glass walls with a door in the middle on a 45. The long glass wall length is 48", the glass door 24" and the shorter glass wall 23". I have two bids from well established glass companies, but I'm having a difference of opinions on how best to construct the glass walls. The debate is over how to do the header. One company suggests using a glass header over the glass door. The other company wants to put a metal header (or frame) on the top. When approached about doing a glass header, they were very resistant about doing it that way. They said they could do it, but greatly disliked the glass header approach.

    I am convinced that a header is necessary. Both bids have come in around the same price $2,200.

    What I want is frameless. So ideally no metal frame on the top. But I don't want to mess around and do something with glass that is not structurally sound. On top of that, I live in earthquake country (Bay Area). If a metal header (or frame) is required to make the shower walls structurally sound, then I would do it. But I am confused when two experts seem to have conflicting opinions. One company has been in business for 19 years, the other 60 years.

    Thanks, Chris
  2. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Go here and scroll down a little bit to read what this company says about either using metal or not:

    http://www.cafsd.com/AllSitePages/FAQ/FAQ-Index.htm

    They're pretty clear, so to speak, about what you can and can't expect.

    If I were in your position (and I have been) I would build a soffit down to the 7' height, tile the underside of it, and then let them glaze from base to soffit.

    That way you can have your cake and eat it too. No frame, no wobble, no worries, and less steam coming out to fog your mirrors:)

    Best of luck!

    Howard
    http://www.howardemerson.com/
  3. dcpete816

    dcpete816 New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Thanks for the link. I had already discovered that link by googling. It's actually the best one I ran into. Re-reading, I find that they make no mention of a glass header. All they talk about is a metal header. With a glass header, a piece of glass sits on top of the door and is fixed to both glass walls. This provides stability of the entire glass structure. That's the theory anyway. With this approach there is no metal header at all.

    We explored the possibility of completely enclosing it. Yes that would solve the stability issue since the glass is supported at the base and top. But it adds other problems in our situation. It means you must have a fan inside the shower enclosure and you also have to tile the ceiling. Moving or puting a fan in this area is tough in our case. If you were building a steam room, it's a no-brainer. But we're not. It's also not the look we're after. Btw, a solution not having a fan in the shower in this case is to put a hinged flap on one of the glass walls. then you just open it when you take a shower.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Chris
  4. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Actually you do not need a fan in the shower area....................Just leave the door open when you're done showering.

    As far as the 'glass header' goes, I did not see any mention of how it would site. If they made a full glass 'top', that would negate the need for the soffit, right?

    When one thinks of a header, the first thing that comes to mind is studs on edge, or in the case of masonry and the like, a 'lentil' (sp?) sits flat across the opening.

    Perhaps the glass top would do the trick with the least amount of work.

    HE
  5. dcpete816

    dcpete816 New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    San Francisco
    A good visual for the glass header is the type of wood header you would put over a door or a window. In this case it's a glass door and the header is glass as well. It's attached to the glass walls by metal fasteners. Yes it seems this should work in lieu of going all the way to a soffit.

    The only thing that gives me pause is the one company (been around for 60 years) says they would build one like that if I insisted, but they wouldn't warranty the work from shifting, etc. And they didn't recommend the approach. OTOH, the other company (been around for 19 years) does this type of shower all the time and warranties their work for 5 years.

    One thing about the metal frame on top approach (metal header) is it will hide imperfections from not making precise cuts on the glass. Without a frame, if the glass walls and door don't align perfectly, it will probably be noticable. And it is probably the easier approach of the two.

    Chris
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,814
    Location:
    New England
    Glass doesn't flex really well, and attaching to two walls might end up with the glass either in tension or compression. Depending on how it is attached, it could explode if you exceeded it's limits. Also, any scratch and hole becomes a weak point. Silicon or rubber could help absorb some of the changes in dimmensions, but assuming the door stop was attached to the header (rather than just use spring loaded hinges to position the door), that jarring could be problematic.

    As to ventilation, to get enough air flow to allow things to dry out, you need a way for air to get in and circulate...the easiest way is to leave the door open when done, but that may not be possible.

    Check out www.johnbridge.com and see if the tiling pros there have any ideas. If the shower isn't already built, had you considered Kerdi from www.schluter.com? This puts a waterproof, tileable membrane directly under the tile so there is much less masonary to absorb moisture and promote mold...it's a neat system.
  7. dcpete816

    dcpete816 New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    San Francisco
    I got a third bid from another company and yet another approach to the job. They bad-mouthed the glass header approach. This one I kind of like. They proposed using 1/2" glass on the long glass wall and short glass wall. Then hinge the door on the short glass wall (seems like a no-brainer whatever we do). Use 3/8" glass for the door to reduce weight. Then they would put a support bar at the top on the short hinged glass wall to the tile wall at a 45 degree angle. They said they have done some shower's like this and it looks nice. I was also thinking the bar could be a "feature" and we could hang a few things on it like wash rags, shampoo, etc.

    Chris
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
  8. dcpete816

    dcpete816 New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Here's an update. We are going with a 3/8" frameless neo angled glass walls with a chrome header on the entire top edges of the glass. Yes, it is still called "frameless" even if it has a frame header. It's not in yet, so I can't report back yet on how it looks. But there is no doubt, this is the best solution for a neo angled shower, that is not secured at the ceiling.

    I learned a lot about the subject in my research. There is an amazing lack of information on the internet on this subject. There are also many viable ways to solve the problem. Strangly enough, it seems to me, the most advanced countries in this area are Australia and NZ. They use techniques not used here. Some of the best custom frameless brackets and supports come from Australia.

    Like I said, I went to 3 different glass places and got 3 different aproaches. I am aware of even more ways of doing this now. But I think it comes down to the individual shop. They will do what they are comfortable with doing. I don't think you can assume that they are completely up on all the latest techniques.

    Chris
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