Barn Doors in Showers

Barns doors have become a widely coveted design trend, so much so that they’ve even made their debut in the bathroom as shower doors or as a component in complete enclosures.

The barn door-style shower is notable because of its uniquely modern top-frame hardware that makes it an attractive focal point. Harrell Design + Build designer, Debra Winston explains that, instead of hiding the glides behind a valance, you can see the decorative rolling mechanism—kind of like those mechanical watches that show the gears. Shower barn doors come in frameless versions and offer a clean, contemporary appearance unlike most doors with an unappealing top frame. The hardware comes in a variety of sleek finishes, including chrome, brushed nickel, and black. Along with the actual barn door hardware, the door handles and towel bar can be added with a matching finish.

Debra recommends reading the door specifications very closely or consulting a professional when it comes to choosing a door as well as installing. There are two main configurations of doors: bypass and inline, both of which can be used with either a full-sized shower or a shower-tub combo.

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Bypass doors: Both glass panels slide, allowing access from either side of the shower.
Inline doors: One panel of glass is stationary and the other serves as the single sliding door.

“Shower-tub barn doors typically have a lower profile door track, making them much easier to clean and less of a toe-stubbing hazard,” clarifies Debra. “And, for those with young children, the lower track it makes it significantly easier and more comfortable to bathe them in a tub.”

The location of the movable glass panel is something to which homeowners should pay close attention. “One very important thing to consider when installing an inline shower door is to have the fixed door opening on the same side as the showerhead,” advises Harrell designer, Debra Winston. “This ensures water doesn’t leak out since it will spray toward the stationary glass panel, not in between the shower door panels.”

Shower barn doors can be used to create a full glass enclosure with three fixed panels and one that opens and closes. “This is fantastic for small spaces. It doesn’t block the light and has a dramatic look,” Debra explains. “The glass panels can also be frosted to allow for privacy, if desired.”

The barn door isn’t just relegated to the typical angular configuration. They can also be used with an arc or pie-shaped shower pan. These are generally used in bathrooms where a shower is desired but space is at a premium. Tucked into a corner, showers utilizing the sliding barn door require less floor space than those with a swinging door. You don’t need to worry about the door swinging out into a toilet or vanity. “These showers, though not particularly spacious, function beautifully and give the bathroom a more airy appearance.”

Shower doors come in multiple thicknesses. ¼ inch, 3/8 inch, with the thickest being ½ inch. All shower doors will be tempered glass so that, in the event they break, the shards will not have sharp edges. 3/8” is the thinnest I recommend to clients, as if the glass is ¼” it can feel flimsy and rattle when opening and closing.

With glass comes some maintenance. To avoid soap scum, water spots and mineral build-up, it is important to make sure your doors have some invisible surface glass protectant, such as Microtek. It is recommended to use a squeegee after every shower to prevent water spots. It may also be worth considering installing a whole-house water filter to prevent the hard water mineral deposits from damaging the glass, hardware finishes, and clogged plumbing.

Shower barn doors are a beautiful way to update a bath and work well with many styles, room sizes, and configurations. If you have a bathroom that’s seen better days, get in touch with Debra or another of Harrell’s designers to discover how your bathroom can be transformed into a truly amazing space.

Debra has been with Harrell Design + Build Design + Build for five years. She has a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts, is a painter and quilt artist, and spent 13 years as a fashion designer for Ralph Lauren in New York City before moving to California. She studied Interior Design at Cañada College, where she specialized in Kitchen and Bath Design. Debra worked as an Interior Designer prior to joining the Harrell Team in April 2014. Debra has received numerous awards for her designs, her specialty being Kitchen and Bath redesign, Debra is a passionate Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP), and also works on whole-house remodels and room additions as well as Harrell’s color specialist.

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