Frameless Glass Shower Enclosures: Channel vs. Clips

Frameless glass shower enclosures require 3/8” tempered glass which weighs 5 lbs. per square foot. “Heavy” fixed panels are attached to the wall using either channel or clips. Both solutions are beautiful, but there are some important considerations when deciding how you want to attach the fixed panels.

Channel:

Channel runs the entire length of the glass where it touches the tile, providing both a mechanical means to support the glass and a water barrier. On the vertical surfaces the channel will be screwed into the tile. On the horizontal surfaces a high bond double-sided tape is used to hold the channel in place along with the weight of the glass.  Silicone is required on the bottom edge of the channel where it abuts the tile on the inside and outside of the enclosure.  We also apply a thin bead of silicone where the channel meets the glass, both inside and outside.  This construction provides an excellent water barrier and structural support for the glass.

Advantages of Channel:

  • Clean, unobstructed view of glass and tile
  • Water barrier beneath the tile is not pierced 
  • Less expensive option due to less fabrication of the glass, less labor required to install

Clips:

Clips, which are 2” X 2”, are used on the side and bottom of a fixed panel.  Clips require a notch in the glass to receive the clip hardware and mechanically attach the glass to the tile. Clips are screwed into the tile on both vertical and horizontal surfaces. The water barrier beneath the tile is pierced on the horizontal surfaces. To prevent water issues, screw holes are filled with silicone.  Additionally a piece of vinyl bulb seal is adhered to the bottom of the glass where it abuts the tile to fill the gap between the clip hardware and the glass. Silicone is required where the glass meets the tile all around the edges of the clip. Silicone and bulb seal are the barriers to water in this application.

Advantages of Clips:

  • Depending on size, panels may feel more stable if attached with clips
  • Mechanical, “techie” look is very attractive and modern.

Disadvantages of clips:

  • Water barrier beneath the tile is pierced on horizontal surfaces
  • Increased expense due to more fabrication of glass and increased labor

One More Option – Hybrid:

Several of our contractors and designers use a hybrid approach. Clips are used to secure fixed panels on the sides and channel is used to secure the fixed panels on the bottom. This approach helps minimize water issues and provides the desired look and security of clips.

The Bottom Line: Both clips and channel are used regularly on frameless glass shower enclosures, the choice usually comes down to personal taste, budget and risk avoidance.

About Hillcrest Glass

Hillcrest Glass is a full-service glass shop located in Longmont, Colorado.  We have been providing glass in Longmont, Boulder, and nearby communities on the Northern Front Range of Colorado since 1969. We’ve been locally owned since the beginning.

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