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Glass Shower Doors vs Curtains: Which Is Better For Seniors?

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Shower doors made with tempered glass generally offer more stability for elderly adults than shower curtains. Adding a special protective coating adds an extra layer of protection.

Deciding between the modern look of a shower glass enclosure or the more traditional shower curtains for an elderly adult can be a difficult task. This article will help you figure out which is best for yourself, your loved one, and why!

While there are many factors involved in this decision, we recommend that you make your choice based on what is most important for you or the elderly adult you’re helping.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Shower Doors vs. Shower Curtains

The use of a shower door or a shower curtain oftentimes depends on personal tastes, your financial budget and if you happen to have smaller bathrooms. But for seniors, the decision of which option to choose must also include the factor of safety.

To help you make the better choice for yourself, here’s a list of the pros and cons between a shower door and a shower curtain keeping in mind the safety issue for older adults.

There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately it comes down to what works best for you and the style of your bathroom.

Shower Doors

Pros

  • Glass shower enclosures may act as a barrier between the person in the shower and the floor if they lose their balance. Again, this is only true if the door is tempered glass.
  • Normally keeps water inside the shower vs. the bathroom floor just outside the shower which helps to prevent any slipping on a wet floor and helps to keep the shower mat dry.
  • Are easier to clean and keep clean, even for elderly adults. Simply use a squeegee like this one after every shower and a glass cleaner every now and then is all you need.
  • Glass shower doors come in clear glass or frosted glass – giving you the amount of “coverage” you would prefer in the shower.
  • When doors are used in place of curtains to enclose shower space, there is also less chance that hot air will escape, resulting in a more comfortable shower experience.
  • Doors come in many different styles and colors to suit the décor of any bathroom. They certainly contribute to a more modern feel in the bathroom.
  • Adding a protective coating to the glass makes it even safer. Some to consider are Invisible Shield and Aqua Glide.

Note: If you live in a hard water area you may find it difficult to clean the hard water stains from a glass shower door. I can recommend high strength vinegar like this one from Calyptus.

Cons

  • Are usually more expensive than a shower curtain.
  • Shower doors require professional installation.
  • Sliding doors in a tub enclosure can make the space to get in and out of tub shower combinations too small, especially if you are using a shower bench to get into and out of the tub.
  • Older shower doors that only open one way may be hazardous in a tight space, which makes them a poor choice in small bathrooms.

Shower Curtains

Pros

  • Curtains may offer more privacy than glass doors if the glass doors are not frosted. Some people will feel more comfortable with this degree of modesty when it comes to their private parts being visible while using the shower.
  • Or you can go with any of the opaque shower curtain designs available too.
  • Shower curtains can be installed by most anyone – no professionals required.
  • Some shower curtains can be washed in the washing machine, making cleaning them easier.
  • A fabric shower curtain can be placed over a liner and give your bathroom a beautiful décor. And they are easy enough to change to a variety of different unique styles if you so desire.
  • For some small spaces or odd shaped showers – a shower curtain may be the only option.

Cons

  • Curtains usually require someone else to help with taking care of them, which is an issue when elderly adults typically live alone. If there is nobody around who can help, the elderly person may have to dry the curtain by hand after showering. This can be a tedious and tiring chore for those who are older or weaker.
  • The shower liner can blow in and get tangled in the shower chair or bench and could cause a falling incident.

I do believe that the main reason to choose a shower door is because it can help to mitigate an injury if the person in the shower were to fall. Of course, only if it’s the right kind of glass shower door.

Which Is Better For Seniors? Framed or Frameless Shower Doors?

I have had a few friends and relatives lately who have remodeled their bathrooms and a very common question I hear is “Should I get a framed glass shower door or a frameless one?

In my opinion, the frameless doors are more modern, safer and easier to clean.

Framed glass shower doors have a metal frame around the edge of the glass panels. They come in many different designs, styles, materials (including stainless steel), and colors so that they can suit any taste or design preference.

Frameless glass shower doors refer to the fact that they are fastened by metal clips instead of a frame. They also have some type of support for weight, like on walls and tubs.

In my opinion, a frameless shower door is better for a home with older adults and here are my reasons why…

  • Because there is no frame, they are easier to keep clean. The hardest part of cleaning framed shower doors are the tracks.
  • Less chance of mold buildup (again, because there are no tracks).
  • They are extremely easy to open and close and they swing both in and out.
  • The door swinging both ways also makes access into and out of the shower much easier.
  • There’s no track on the shower’s lip or the floor (if you have a barrier free shower) so nothing to step on or trip over.
  • Frameless glass doors can be custom made to fit any size doorway.
  • They can accommodate almost any bathroom design.
  • A design option you may want to consider are shower doors with built in panels like the one below. These panels are made of aluminum or steel and make it even more difficult for the glass to break if you happen to fall.

For these reasons, I believe that a frameless shower door, made of tempered glass and coated with a product that adds a protective layer is a safer option than a framed shower door.

Which Shower Doors Are Easiest To Clean?

Frameless glass shower doors make it easier to clean the shower. Framed glass or even acrylic enclosures have more places where soap scum , mildew and dirt can accumulate. The surface of frameless glass is easier to clean because there are no breaks or crevices for water, soap and shampoo to collect in.

Simply because there’s no track to clean – which as anyone who has a shower door with a track knows – they can get very dirty and are difficult to clean.

Conclusion

In general, the best bet (in my opinion) for elderly adults who are more unsteady on their feet or have difficulty seeing clearly, shower doors are a better option than curtains because they require less handling to operate and provide assurance of security.

They also allow those with certain disabilities to avoid some common accidents like slipping in the shower. Doors offer protection against falling because they are built to be strong and secure.

In addition to other shower safety features such as a bench seat, hand held shower head, organizers and more – a modern shower door with tempered glass and an extra protective coating can help to make the shower as safe as possible for seniors.

Read more about some other bathroom safety products we recommend.

In the long run, I believe a safe shower door is a better investment as far as safety and outweighs a shower curtain.

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