Let's get the big questions out of the way first: What the heck is a frameless shower enclosure and why does everyone seem to want one?
A "frameless" shower enclosure uses sturdy tempered glass (usually 3/8" to 1/2" thick) that does not require the support of metal around its exterior edges. The result is a clean-lined, modern look that is free of visual obstructions. In fact, one reason frameless shower doors are so popular is that they help showcase beautiful stonework, intricate tile designs and gleaming hardware.
One thing to keep in mind, says Tom Huck, President of Shower Door Experts in Jefferson, MD, is that frameless doors generally do include some metal. "Frameless units can be virtually metal-free, except for clips on any stationary panels, hinges and handles," he says. What's more, the term "frameless" can also apply to doors with frames along the top edge and around the sides. This type of installation is sometimes — but not always — referred to as "semi-frameless."
A word on price: A frameless shower generally costs twice as much as a basic, metal-enclosed model.