Form & Function
As the economy continues to gain ground, customers in the shower enclosure market are expanding their focus to include not just low-cost products, but innovative enclosures that combine affordability with unique design and functionality, particularly in frameless applications. From homeowners to commercial developers, customers are demanding reinvented shower enclosures and hardware that provide form and function, suppliers say.
“Owners and designers are constantly looking forward; they want their investment dollars to impress from a design standpoint as well as a functional one,” says Brad Murphy, brand manager of the Frameless Shower Door Division at C.R. Laurence Co. “Being ‘current’ is no longer sufficient; people want to make a statement with something fresh and distinctive that complements their own style.”
Rich Porayko, marketing coordinator for Agalite Shower & Bath Enclosures, agrees. “Glass companies, designers and end users tend to gravitate to new and different designs, whether it is a new glass texture, hardware option or easy clean treatment.”
More, Heavier Glass
Customers may be asking for distinctive shower enclosures, but the underlying design elements of the last several years are still there. Frameless is king. “The demand for more glass and less hardware has never been more prevalent,” Murphy says. “From custom residential to large-scale hospitality projects, customers are looking for euro-inspired long runs of glass with minimal hardware, which has in turn created an increase in larger and heavier doors.”
As demand for heavy glass products continues to grow, suppliers are developing new options that meet different application, price and installation requirements.
“Heavy glass continues to gain ground for the master suite,” says Bobby Thompson, director of sales and marketing, Alumax Bath Enclosures. “Marketers have done an excellent job promoting the look to consumers, which continues to drive demand. Additionally, consumers now want the heavy glass look … for smaller openings and also for the secondary bath.”
“In 2003 to 2004, heavy glass was gaining popularity, and the 3/8-inch clear and ½-inch were in the upper echelon; but now they are more mainstream,” explains Mark Decker, national sales director, Cardinal Shower Enclosures. “We have been trying to develop products to help customers install them more easily. We’ve been developing different product designs, different patterns. We’ve spent time and money on creating different choices for them in the heavy glass market.”
Low maintenance is also an important characteristic to shower enclosure shoppers. In a recent research study, Coastal Industries identified a preference among customers for frameless enclosures that are easy to clean, reports Patrick Cobb, national accounts for Coastal Industries.
More glass and less hardware has been a long-standing trend in shower enclosure design, but suppliers are looking beyond hardware with a minimal look to products that also offer affordability, ease of use and the strength necessary to accommodate heavier glass.
“Both the hardware and glass must work as a single cohesive unit solving the needs of the most discerning customer’s expectations,” says Keith Knolmayer, hardware development director, Bohle America. “Development of market-specific products will continue to play a vital role in product selection for many yearsW to come.”
The products on the opposite page are examples of some of the new shower enclosure and hardware offerings now on the market.
Rio sliding door hardware
Bohle America designed its new SlideTec Rio for 5/16-inch to 3/8-inch thick glass. The hardware is made of high grade 316 corrosion-resistant stainless steel. The design accommodates 180 degrees inline sliding and a maximum door weight of 110 pounds, offering customers a flexible design for wall-to-wall, wall-to-glass and glass-to-glass configurations, the company reports. Customers can specify the hardware in brushed or polished stainless. The product meets current customer demands with an updated, elegant look and smooth operation, according to Bohle.
877/678-2021 | www.bohle-america.com
ProLine Frameless Sliders
“Our Moana, Lani and ProLine products are not just off-the-shelf parts and pieces but true, engineered solutions that provide answers for safety, leak prevention, adjustability and ease of fabrication,” says Alumax Bath Enclosures’ Bobby Thompson, director of sales and marketing. Introduced in 2013, the ProLine frameless sliding enclosures feature minimal hardware and frameless heavy glass for an open and contemporary appearance. The inline sliding door glides smoothly and maximizes floor space, eliminating the need for out-swing doors, according to the company. The enclosures are available in multiple configurations with additional inline panel kits and 90-degree return kits. Customers can choose polished or brushed stainless steel finishes and a variety of pull knobs and handles to complete the package.
870/234-4260 | www.alumaxshowerdoor.com
“In response to growing interests in frameless sliding shower doors, in the last few years we’ve launched new distinct sliding systems, including our completely header-less Essence Series, and our Serenity Series. In 2014, we’ll be introducing several new sliding systems featuring Softbrake braking technology,” says Brad Murphy, brand manager of the Frameless Shower Door Division at C.R. Laurence Co.
CRL’s Serenity Series frameless shower door system features a low-profile, stainless steel header support bar. High-quality, smooth gliding rollers above the bar and anti-lift fittings below the bar provide a secure fit, according to the supplier, while the use of minimal hardware gives the glass door system a floating look. Designed for easy installation, the system accommodates 5/16-inch or 3/8-inch glass, and doors up to 30 inches wide or weighing up to 88 pounds.
800/421-6144 | www.crlaurence.com
“Our new Illusion Frameless Series Enclosure offers the aesthetics of a custom frameless enclosure without sacrificing the adjustability, mounting surface flexibility, ease of installation and economy of a framed enclosure,” says Patrick Cobb, national accounts for Coastal Industries, www.coastalind.com. Coastal designed the Illusion Series to provide the look of a fully frameless unit, making it header-less and without H posts, so there’s no obstruction of the view of the tile. The enclosure also includes about 1.5 inches of adjustability in the panel side and the door handle side, solving out-of-plumb and out-of-square situations, the supplier reports. The Illusion Series is designed with a heavy glass panel and a 1/4-inch door.
904/642-3970 | www.coastalind.com
Porta Jr. Hinges
Agalite Shower & Bath Enclosures, a division of Hartung Glass Industries, offers Porta Jr. light-duty shower enclosure hinges. The hinges contribute to the popular frameless look at a more economical price point, according to the supplier. The hinges’ solid brass construction offers enhanced support of 6-mm glass: Two hinges can support a 32-inch wide, 55-pound door, and three hinges can support a 36-inch wide, 85-pound door. Backed by a five-year warranty, each Porta Jr. hinge includes a 5-degree offset pin and a waffle grip clamping surface.
The hinges are available as hardware only or with Agalite’s glazed Estate Collection shower doors in brushed nickel, chrome, gold and oil rubbed bronze. Porta Jr. hinges are available in wall-mount, 180-degree glass-to-glass and 135-degree glass-to-glass configurations.
800/552-2227 | www.agalite.com