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Thread: Frameless Shower Walls - Header Question

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    DIY Junior Member dcpete816's Avatar
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    Default Frameless Shower Walls - Header Question

    I'm putting a nice corner tile shower in and wanted to go with the "frameless" glass look. The tile will be all the way up two walls, but not on the ceiling. The glass walls will not go to the ceiling, but be about 7 feet tall. There will be 3 glass walls with a door in the middle on a 45. The long glass wall length is 48", the glass door 24" and the shorter glass wall 23". I have two bids from well established glass companies, but I'm having a difference of opinions on how best to construct the glass walls. The debate is over how to do the header. One company suggests using a glass header over the glass door. The other company wants to put a metal header (or frame) on the top. When approached about doing a glass header, they were very resistant about doing it that way. They said they could do it, but greatly disliked the glass header approach.

    I am convinced that a header is necessary. Both bids have come in around the same price $2,200.

    What I want is frameless. So ideally no metal frame on the top. But I don't want to mess around and do something with glass that is not structurally sound. On top of that, I live in earthquake country (Bay Area). If a metal header (or frame) is required to make the shower walls structurally sound, then I would do it. But I am confused when two experts seem to have conflicting opinions. One company has been in business for 19 years, the other 60 years.

    Thanks, Chris

  2. #2
    I teach guitar:You call that a job? Howard Emerson's Avatar
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    Go here and scroll down a little bit to read what this company says about either using metal or not:

    http://www.cafsd.com/AllSitePages/FAQ/FAQ-Index.htm

    They're pretty clear, so to speak, about what you can and can't expect.

    If I were in your position (and I have been) I would build a soffit down to the 7' height, tile the underside of it, and then let them glaze from base to soffit.

    That way you can have your cake and eat it too. No frame, no wobble, no worries, and less steam coming out to fog your mirrors:-)

    Best of luck!

    Howard
    http://www.howardemerson.com/

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    DIY Junior Member dcpete816's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link. I had already discovered that link by googling. It's actually the best one I ran into. Re-reading, I find that they make no mention of a glass header. All they talk about is a metal header. With a glass header, a piece of glass sits on top of the door and is fixed to both glass walls. This provides stability of the entire glass structure. That's the theory anyway. With this approach there is no metal header at all.

    We explored the possibility of completely enclosing it. Yes that would solve the stability issue since the glass is supported at the base and top. But it adds other problems in our situation. It means you must have a fan inside the shower enclosure and you also have to tile the ceiling. Moving or puting a fan in this area is tough in our case. If you were building a steam room, it's a no-brainer. But we're not. It's also not the look we're after. Btw, a solution not having a fan in the shower in this case is to put a hinged flap on one of the glass walls. then you just open it when you take a shower.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Chris

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    I teach guitar:You call that a job? Howard Emerson's Avatar
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    Actually you do not need a fan in the shower area....................Just leave the door open when you're done showering.

    As far as the 'glass header' goes, I did not see any mention of how it would site. If they made a full glass 'top', that would negate the need for the soffit, right?

    When one thinks of a header, the first thing that comes to mind is studs on edge, or in the case of masonry and the like, a 'lentil' (sp?) sits flat across the opening.

    Perhaps the glass top would do the trick with the least amount of work.

    HE

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    DIY Junior Member dcpete816's Avatar
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    A good visual for the glass header is the type of wood header you would put over a door or a window. In this case it's a glass door and the header is glass as well. It's attached to the glass walls by metal fasteners. Yes it seems this should work in lieu of going all the way to a soffit.

    The only thing that gives me pause is the one company (been around for 60 years) says they would build one like that if I insisted, but they wouldn't warranty the work from shifting, etc. And they didn't recommend the approach. OTOH, the other company (been around for 19 years) does this type of shower all the time and warranties their work for 5 years.

    One thing about the metal frame on top approach (metal header) is it will hide imperfections from not making precise cuts on the glass. Without a frame, if the glass walls and door don't align perfectly, it will probably be noticable. And it is probably the easier approach of the two.

    Chris

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Glass doesn't flex really well, and attaching to two walls might end up with the glass either in tension or compression. Depending on how it is attached, it could explode if you exceeded it's limits. Also, any scratch and hole becomes a weak point. Silicon or rubber could help absorb some of the changes in dimmensions, but assuming the door stop was attached to the header (rather than just use spring loaded hinges to position the door), that jarring could be problematic.

    As to ventilation, to get enough air flow to allow things to dry out, you need a way for air to get in and circulate...the easiest way is to leave the door open when done, but that may not be possible.

    Check out www.johnbridge.com and see if the tiling pros there have any ideas. If the shower isn't already built, had you considered Kerdi from www.schluter.com? This puts a waterproof, tileable membrane directly under the tile so there is much less masonary to absorb moisture and promote mold...it's a neat system.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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