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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Shower Curtains vs. Shower Doors

The advantages and disadvantages of shower curtains or shower doors go beyond their outward appearance. While they contribute greatly to the overall look of your bathroom, they will also have an effect on the function. Some of the factors to take into consideration are your personal maintenance preferences, budget, and long term plans.

If you want your bathroom to look neater when house guests visit, the shower curtain can be closed to hide the bath tub or left open to show off the brilliantly gleaming porcelain. Unfortunately, shower curtains need to be thoroughly maintained in order to prevent mold and mildew from breeding on their surface.

When carelessly left outside of the bathtub, shower curtains can also drip on the floor and make a mess. They also aren’t considered to be as innovative or as fashionable in a modern bathroom as shower doors.

Studies also show that vinyl shower curtains that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) contain chemicals that are extremely detrimental towards human health and the environment. New vinyl curtains release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), DEHP (a suspected carcinogen), and organotins into the air. These toxins can cause headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Developing young children are especially sensitive to these chemicals.

While many major retailers have completely discontinued selling PVC curtains, some still stock them alongside non PVC alternatives. It is best to check the label or ask an employee before purchasing a shower curtain from any store.

Non-PVC curtains can be made out of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) which is healthier, but still made out of polycarbonate based plastic and detrimental towards the environment. Fabric curtains are an even better material. They are machine washable, so maintenance is fairly easy. Hemp is an ideal material for fabric shower curtains, for it is naturally resistant to mold and mildew. Glass doors are also a good alternative to PVC curtains.

There are many advantages associated with having a shower door. Only safety tempered or laminated glass is used in the manufacture allowing you many years of worry free durability with minimal maintenance.

This makes up for the added expense of replacing shower curtains. Shower doors can be kept looking new for years to come by applying a protective coating to the glass making it easier to clean. It is also recommended that a squeegee be used after each use. Should they become soiled from hard water or scale buildup a bath sponge with warm soapy water can be used.

Today there are more choices than ever before in selecting the right shower enclosure, with a wide spectrum of sizes, colors, glass options and details to match any style and décor.

Because the bathroom is one of your home’s most intimate rooms every detail in it should be beautiful. The shower door has become the focal point and an integral part of the bathroom. Shower doors have become one of the most prominent fixtures you see when entering the bath, it seems logical that the enclosure look elegant and beautiful. The trend that is growing in popularity is the frameless series. This adds to the open style of the design and creates a feeling of space. It can be costly when designing the shower door, but, in the long term the investment will add to the equity in your home and make even the most functional room a true showcase.

Don’t underestimate the importance of upgrading the bathroom; this room, like the kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in your home and adds much to its resale value. Custom designed units can be made to fit any opening. Consider your needs for an enclosure, a bath adjacent to the master bedroom, or another in a hallway or a unit that can be specially angle cut for a sloped ceiling application. There are bi-fold doors that are perfect for those tight spaces; or you may want mirrored panels for smaller baths to make the room appear larger.

Framed or Frameless the shower enclosure gives a finished look to any bathroom and more often than not sets the tone for your decorating scheme. Your local distributor will work with you to enhance your own ideas. Start by measuring the space you have available. For the Do It Yourselfer illustrated step by step instructions are available that make installs easy to do, or the dealer can refer you to a professional installer.

Whatever your decision, adding a shower or tub enclosure will add dramatic results…and create a truly personalized bathroom.

44 Responses to “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Shower Curtains vs. Shower Doors”

  1. We Want to purchase a glasstec elite shower door system, but need to know if there is a metal piece that holds the glass on the bottom that would attach to the shower base curb? Thank you.

    • Century Bathworks February 3, 2015 at 9:46 am

      The Elite has a U Channel at the base of the panel which measures 9/16″ x 5/8″. There is no U channel vertically on the panel wall…The door slides through a guide which measures 1 1/4″ x 1 3/4″. An L shaped vinyl is applied vertically between the door and panel to seal any gap and there is an L vinyl that is applied to the wall vertically where the door closes.

  2. Hello, and thank you very much for having shared this information on the pros and cons of shower coverings. There are many reasons why it is important to evaluate these decisions as they are what you will be living with for the coming years. I think it’s important to research and find the type of shower covering that best fits your needs and the budget of the project.

  3. I would like to read up more on these studies done that show carcinogens in shower curtains. If that is a real problem, There is no other choice but to get a glass shower door. I like the look better anyway.

  4. Thanks for sharing this advice on getting a shower door over a curtain. My husband and I actually just bought a house, and the master bathroom has a shower curtain rod instead of a shower door. I agree that it would be much nice to have a shower door since it looks so much nicer. However, I didn’t know that some curtains contain harmful chemicals that can be harmful to people– that’s just another reason to start looking for a contractor!

  5. I’m debating on taking out the shower door completely, I’m not too crazy about using harsh chemicals, so the channels are a pain to clean and I struggle to get the overlap of the panels to clean from the hard water. The only thing I like about the doors is that I can hang my towel on the handle.

  6. Shower curtains AND liners can be tossed in a washing machine. Mold is not a valid argument. If you don’t clean the shower door track it too will get moldy.

  7. Thanks for sharing the pros and cons of shower doors vs. shower curtains. I’ve actually only ever had showers with curtains, but I love the look of showers with doors. I guess it’s true that shower curtains are nice because they can hide the shower if it’s dirty. That’s super convenient when you have guests over. I had no idea that some vinyl curtains could be bad for health. That’s good to know.

  8. Hey! I just wanted to reach out and say thank you so much for taking the time to get this information out there for bathroom decor and function enthusiast! I mean, I really am an enthusiast when it comes to bathrooms, and I absolutely adore the curtains my wife puts up every couple of months. But i must say, my thing is not a sliding door, or a certain, but an open and close glass door, so that you do not have to worry about water leaking with a curtain, or the sliding doors rollers getting stuck.

  9. I really like the point this article brings up about mold. I worry about the curtain of my shower getting moldy, but I wish there was an easier way. This article mentions that not only do door bring a finished look to the bathroom, but also are easier to clean. I think that a glass door could be a better solution for me. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I currently have a shower curtain right now and it seems to me that it might be time to replace it. Over time, there is a chance that mold could form on the curtain itself. This is one of the main reasons why I am going to make the switch to a door. Luckily for me, there is ample room for a door in my bathroom. The only problem is finding someone to help me out with it.

  11. Good read! I love how clean shower doors can be. I want my shower experience to be fresh. Curtains seems to have too much maintenance. Thanks for warnings about PVC curtains too.

  12. We are redoing our hall bath. I did a frameless glass door in my master bath shower and honestly won’t do it again! It has been three years now and the glass is a pain to keep clean. We squeegee after every shower, and then have an old tshirt always hanging over door to wipe down handle and shower fixtures. The bottom sweep/seal still catches water and that has become moldy and impossible to clean. We have used so many products from glass cleaner to stove cleaner etc and it just doesn’t look good anymore. I am NOT going with a glass door tub enclosure in our hall tub. So you have to replace a shower curtain when it gets moldy, to me that’s a lot easier and prettier than water spotted glass with moldy sweep/seals!!

    • Century Bathworks October 20, 2015 at 8:04 am

      It is unfortunate that you are having problems with your existing shower door. If the water is very soft or has a great deal of minerals it can create issues in keeping shower doors clean. You didn’t mention whether or not you purchased Diamon Fusion or Enduroshield coatings. This would have dramatically decreased the spotting and cleaning issues that you describe.

      There are many options available to prevent the problems that you have, and in today’s market homeowners are still looking for shower doors in their baths to showcase their showers. We are sorry for your bad experience, and as we stated in our article, the choice to have a shower door is just that, a choice.

      Thank you for forwarding us your thoughts on this matter.

  13. Thank you for the post! I agree that a shower curtain looks nice but only if it’s not allowed to get moldy. The framed shower and tub can also be a very clean look, but again, keep your tub clean. I’ve seen some great bath and shower sets online as far as curtains go. Is it alright to order things like that online or should I go see it in person at a store?

    • Century Bathworks October 30, 2015 at 9:12 am

      There are so many varieties and options available in shower doors today that it would be our recommendation to see a qualified representative to purchase your shower door. Thank you for your response and interest in our products.

  14. I agree that every element in the bathroom should be beautiful, which is why I am upgrading my own bathroom. As you say, though, there are so many different sizes, colors, and options to choose from, which can make it overwhelming. Thus, knowing what style of bathroom you want and what the general look for the bathroom you want will help you to be able to look at all of these decisions and make the best one for your bathroom. Overall, I will definitely read more about a frameless shower door for my bathroom because I feel like they are more modern, and that’s the look I’m going for.

  15. Minimal maintenance make me really like the idea of getting shower doors. My wife and I are renovating our bathroom in the Spring. We both work full-time, so less maintenance would be nice for our busy schedules. Thanks for the information.

  16. I’ve lived in a few places where I’ve had shower curtains for some and shower doors for others. To be honest, I would rather have the shower door. For one it is much easier to clean than going out and buying a new curtain when it gets all gross. Also with the doors, you can get them custom made to your liking if you wanted to.

  17. Thanks for comparing the pros and cons that shower doors have over curtains. My shower has had curtains for a long time, and lately I have been thinking of having an enclosure installed instead. It seems like doors are healthier and easier to maintain. I think it will be a good idea for me to go ahead with the upgrade.

  18. Thanks for the article! I love how you said that the bathroom is one of the most intimate rooms and every detail should be beautiful. I couldn’t agree more. When my husband and I moved into our first home we had one of the ugliest bathrooms I have ever see. I made having to be in there for long periods of time uncomfortable. We were finally able to renovate it this last January but I sure wish I had had the advice given here prior to the renovation.

  19. I agree that the shower door has got to look elegant and beautiful. I think having a glass door installed would give it that look. I’m also not that big of a fan of shower curtains.

  20. Thanks you for sharing…great extra tips & info!!!

  21. Great breakdown of the pros and cons of each…I agree that the Shower door is much more pleasing to the eye and with the health concerns of Shower Curtains it makes the Door a no-brainer! =)

    • One advantage to shower doors vs shower curtains is that the glass allows more light to pass in a badly lit bath area.
      The glass also gives the space the illusion of being larger vs a patterned shower curtain.
      Our frameless glass has a more modern, classy appeal vs shower curtains.

  22. I moved into my condo with one bathroom that has glass sliding shower doors. My mom said to never remove them, in her opinion they will add resale value. 14 years later, and many back-breaking cleanings, I’m ready to take them down! The amount of colored scum that comes out of the hard to clean tracks is stomach turning.

    I’m wondering though if any new, modern designs of shower doors have the ability to prevent mold scum build up?

    • Century Bathworks October 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Unfortunately, you get mold when the bathroom is not ventilated properly.
      The bathroom steams up and doors need to be wiped down after every shower.
      The same thing does happen with shower curtains as well..
      Water stays on the fabric/ plastic in the folds and mold will appear.
      Adding an exhaust fan will help with the extra moisture.

  23. Hi

    Hope you are having an awesome day!

    Superb blog!!! Great maintence advantages of shower doors… Thanks so much

    Have Nice Day

    I am waiting for next posting.

    Keep Smiling!!!

  24. I had no idea that chemicals within vinyl shower curtains could be detrimental to human health. It is disturbing to learn about the dangers of something ordinary could contain. It seems like a good idea to have a shower door rather than a shower curtain for health and safety reasons.

  25. The only problem I have seen with a shower door is the buildup of hard water. This is a small concern, however, since it can easily be removed with a razor blade or a good cleaning agent. I have never known one to break. This is probably because the article points out that they are made from tempered glass, which is very hard to break.

  26. I must go with the shower doors… Looks much nicer and is easier getting in and out of the shower. I had shower doors installed when I had a walk in tub repair performed last year, and I’m loving it!

  27. I’m renovation my bathroom and want to get a new shower screen. I like the information about how laminated glass will allow you to have many years of worry-free durability. Something else to consider is to get a shower screen that has a warranty on it.

  28. That’s a good tip that glass doors can last a while when you take care of them. You can apply a protective solution to then. Glass also has a way of making a space seem open- I may try something like that for my master bedroom.

  29. great post i like it very informative i like it

  30. I was confused if shower door or shower curtain? You really helped a lot. Thank you very much!

  31. Maintenance make me really like the idea of getting shower doors.I want my shower experience to be fresh. great work 🙂 keep sharing

  32. That’s a good point that shower screens don’t have to be replaced. Shower curtains will wear out after some time. Remember to include the cost of maintenance and/or replacement with any purchase; some things become cheaper when you consider how long they last!

  33. Especially in bathrooms, we have found the use of shower curtains and shower doors. But we never know about the advantages and disadvantages of these two bathroom features. Most probably shower curtain requires more maintenance in comparison to shower doors. so it is quite beneficial to choose shower doors instead of shower curtains. Both the bathroom features consists of equal popularity and equal features, so choosing the best is depends upon us. Thanks for highlighting such wonderful features.

  34. My sister is getting a new bathroom for her birthday from her husband and he needed some tips on what she might want. I think she would like a glass shower door but I wanted to see if that was the best choice. This article was awesome at showing me the great reasons people get shower doors installed. You mention that shower doors have become one of the most prominent fixtures seen which helped make my decision. Thanks for the great tips, now we need to find someone to install it.

  35. I like your idea to apply a protective coating to the bath enclosures to make it easier to clean. We are going to be renovating our bathroom this year and we want to get a nice walk in shower so this is really great advice for us. I wonder if they would apply the coating to the glass before or after they installed it.

  36. If you are low on budget than you should definitely go for shower curtains as it will be a lot cheaper than shower glass doors. But to add looking in the bathroom glass enclosure will help you a lot in adding a good appearance. Choose according to your budget and desire as there are lot of variety available in glass doors such as framed, semi-frameless and frameless.

  37. Thank you for mentioning that glass shower enclosures promise low maintenance and durability. My sister hasn’t been sure if she wanted to just get a new shower curtain in her bathroom remodels, or spring for a door. I’ll have to tell her that she won’t be adding any sort of maintenance expenses to her home in the future if she decides to buy a glass enclosure for her shower.

  38. Shower doors provide a water-tight seal and offer a contemporary, exquisite look. You can decide on fundamental, no nonsense glass boards or redid, beautifying pieces – all relying upon your style and spending plan.

  39. It really helped when you mentioned how bi-fold doors can be perfect for small spaces. I can see that taking the time to do some research can help you find the best types fo doors that can provide the sense of safety and privacy you want. A friend of mine was talking about how he needed to get some bi-fold doors, so I wanted to learn more about them.

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