How to buy glass shower doors....

This beautiful house that we've designed and built has two glass shower doors. I remember during the design phase it was something that both architects called out. "Are you okay with glass shower doors?" I might have hesitated briefly but said I was fine with it. In the long run I absolutely am, but in hindsight, it would have been good to consider alternative design options around these expensive features.... because they are expensive. That being said, in addition to being expensive they are also gorgeous.

Glass shower doors are pretty simple from a customer perspective. I say that specifically because as a designer and installer they is a lot of complexity and precision that needs to be considered. But from a customer needs point of view, there are only a few things that need to be determined:

  • starlight versus clear // clear is more expensive but doesn't have that slight green tint to it
  • clips versus channel // clips are more expensive but channel can be a maintenance hassle down the road
  • any bonus towel bars? // need to know this prior to order since the factory drills the holes for any features

My Experience
I was initially referred to Blu Shower Door because "they are the only provider in the area". While they might be the biggest, that doesn't mean they are the only one. I reached out to 6 different shower companies for estimates. While that might seem excessive, these doors are expensive so saving a couple hundred dollars could be a big deal.

In order to get an estimate for a shower door, these vendors needed measurements to calculate the amount of glass and complexity. After having Blu out to the house initially, I knew what everyone would be measuring so I made my own handout with the design and measurements that I could email. This was really helpful in narrowing down my list from 6 companies to really 3.
Since this can be a time intensive process, I got initial estimates from 6 vendors and then narrowed it down to 3 for final estimates. At the last minute a friend of mine sent me another vendor who I brought in bringing the the total to 4. This might sound like a lot of work, but you learn a lot from each person you talk to and you can see the differences in their process. This was really important to me. 
Since the product is theoretically the same for everyone, what is the difference in the total bill? Often times I found that while the glass portion would be relatively close it was the additional charges that caused the total estimates to be wildly different. For example,

  • some will charge for different hardware, others won't (e.g. different handle beyond standard)
  • some companies won't charge you for clips, others will
  • price for "clearshield" ranges between $100 and $300+

Clearshield is a product that is applied to the glass during manufacturing. It reduces the cleaning maintenance for the product - and who really likes cleaning? Not me. At $300 per door, that is a hard decision to make.

Decision Making
In talking to each company, I learned that many of the vendors had originated at Blu Shower - which gave me comfort in the overall process. They explained to me that they wanted to start their own business and break out on their own. Another difference in the vendors was the warranty. The range was between 2 years to lifetime.

I ended up going with South Shore Showerdoor. He was the most competitive on price but also great to work with. He listened to what I was looking for and was incredibly responsive. The doors were installed this week and look great. They were absolutely the right decision for the space and keep everything feeling "light" and not heavy with extra walls to make a shower. 

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