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Frameless Shower Installation

- Continued The glass rests on clear plastic setting blocks, which we position over the screw heads as an extra precaution against nicks. By using blocks of various thickness, we can perform minor shimming adjustments to level and align panels. Trial fitting. The panels at either side of the door must be absolutely plumb and level to ensure that the door will align accurately and hang in a neutral attitude. Before we secure the panels into the channels with silicone sealant, we test fit the enclosure several times during the course of installation to make certain that everything aligns exactly, and that we'll have a 1/8- to 3/16-inch gap at the vertical edges of the door for clearance (Figure 5 and Figure 6).

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Figure 5. Trial assembly ensures that all of the components are positioned correctly, and that the door will operate freely, with the minimum necessary clearance to reduce water escape (above left). With the header secured, the authors adjust and shim the door (left), using 1/8-inch-thick setting blocks to temporarily set the clearance gap (above right).

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Figure 6. With the door gapped and shimmed, the authors trace the hinge location onto the threshold (above, left). It's difficult to completely seal a frameless enclosure, especially if the client doesn't like the look of the polycarbonate seals and edge wipes. The authors emphasize that wood floors and frameless enclosures make poor bathmates. Delicately handling heavy glass panels is always a two-person job (above, right). With the side panels permanently set and caulked, the pivot hinges can be secured and final-adjusted. Clearance around the hinge body allows minor adjustments to be made in the door's position (left).

The hinges, which clamp onto a cutout in the door, permit minor side-to-side adjustments before the set screws are tightened. We prefer to keep the gap around the door as narrow as possible, to reduce water escape, but it is always wise to hedge against the building settling, especially in new construction. Working with demanding precision in tight quarters with heavy glass, and continually disassembling and reassembling the components is a little nerve-wracking, but fortunately we're married, so we're used to each other. For the most part, we've gotten our system down to a familiar routine, and the two of us can complete an average frameless installation in one long, 8-hour day. Before we go, we always leave a gift of a shower squeegee and a bottle of surface protector, along with instructions on how to keep the enclosure looking as beautiful as it does when we're done.

Paul and Kathy McLellan

own and operate Mayflower Glass in Brewster, Mass.