With thicker safety glass in shower enclosures now the norm, David Osborne, Chief Executive at Roman, explains how manufacturers are innovating to facilitate easier installation of these systems.

Shower enclosure design is constantly evolving and every shape, height, and width required is now available – and with so many options. 

One of the major developments over the last 10 years has been the availability of different glass thicknesses. Twenty years ago, standard enclosures were using 4mm thick toughened safety glass, but now the majority of options are available in 6mm or 8mm glass – and there are also a significant number of options using 10mm-thick toughened safety glass. Many of the higher value and design-led options feature frameless glass but, in reality, the overall volumes of fully frameless units are low. 

The installation of frameless units is slow and must be precise, involving specialist tools such as torque wrenches. The mass market takes into account adjustment for out of true walls, and also offers the installer a much more straightforward installation method with a framed unit.

As glass thicknesses have increased, fully framed units using 6mm or 8mm glass have gotten heavier. The consequence of this weight increase is that the vast majority of sliding door systems would now be classified as a two-man lift. Furthermore, as sizes have increased above the once set norm of 1,200mm width, units at 1,400, 1,600, or 1,700mm are now commonplace as many consumers are adding larger units or simply replacing baths. 

Apart from being two-man lifts, these larger units are extremely difficult to manoeuvre into properties, up a flight of stairs, and particularly around small bathrooms during installation. Demand for such units is only getting stronger, so manufacturers have to innovate to eliminate these problems and offer simple solutions.

Research suggests plumbers and other installers are increasingly on the lookout for simple install solutions, so naturally this key consideration has moved higher up in the purchasing agenda. 

Manufacturers, such as Roman, have developed launched ‘fast-fix’ assembly systems to fulfil this growing need and to make shower installation easier and quicker than ever. What designers have done is essentially turn fully framed units into modular sections which quickly interlock and just require a simple tightening to lock together.

For instance, a sliding door is now in two sections with an assembled door and an assembled panel packed separately – with the top and bottom rails unattached. Immediately, this makes handling and manoeuvering much easier and safer. 

Once the unit is in position for installation, the process is extremely simple. The wall profiles would be secured to the wall in the standard manner, and the side panel is easily attached to the top and bottom rails which now have slotted sections. The screws are already in place in the top and bottom rails and these would then be dropped into the slots and quickly secured with the turn of a screwdriver. 

Likewise, the door would be attached to the other end of the top and bottom rails, and the unit can then be secured into the wall profiles, adjusted, and then fixed – ready to be sealed and in use. 

It’s an extremely simple system which speeds up and simplifies installation, while also making handling vastly easier.

There are also other installation innovations in this area, such as silicone-free vertical sealing systems to prevent minimal frames with a colour finish potentially disappearing under silicone after sealing. 

As an example, Roman’s silicone-free vertical sealing system for its Liberty range features hydro-active tapes between the glass and the frame and the frame and the wall and, as a result, no silicone needs to be applied once the enclosure is fully installed. This eliminates a whole process for the installer, but of course offers a huge visual benefit for the consumer.

So, it’s no longer just about what a showering product looks like, the mechanism of a product and ease of installation have also become important considerations. Invest in the future and keep life simple with fast-fix assembly systems for shower enclosures – in return, save time, money, and reduce complications.