Shower Curtains vs. Shower Doors

Published: 04th April 2009
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The benefits and disadvantages of shower curtains or doors go beyond their outward appearance. While they contribute greatly to the overall look of your bathroom, they will also have an effect on the function. Some of the factors to take into consideration are your personal maintenance preferences, budget, and long term plans.

Shower curtains are affordable and easy to replace. They are available at almost all department stores and many other places. They come in a vast array of colors, textures, and styles. If you are looking to change the theme of your bathroom, the right shower curtain can definitely contribute to the look that you want. You can even custom make your own shower curtain to match the style of your bathroom fixtures.

If you want your bathroom to look neater when houseguests visit, the shower curtain can be closed to hide the bath tub or left open to show off the brilliantly gleaming porcelain. Unfortunately, shower curtains need to be thoroughly maintained in order to prevent mold and mildew from breeding on their surface.

When carelessly left outside of the bathtub, shower curtains can also drip on the floor and make a mess. They also aren't considered to be as innovative or as fashionable in a modern bathroom as shower doors.

Studies also show that vinyl shower curtains that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) contain chemicals that are extremely detrimental towards human health and the environment. New vinyl curtains release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), DEHP (a suspected carcinogen), and organotins into the air. These toxins can cause headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Developing young children are especially sensitive to these chemicals.

While many major retailers have completely discontinued selling PVC curtains, some still stock them alongside non PVC alternatives. It is best to check the label or ask an employee before purchasing a shower curtain from any store.

Non-PVC curtains can be made out of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) which is healthier, but still made out of polycarbonate based plastic and detrimental towards the environment. Fabric curtains are an even better material. They are machine washable, so maintenance is fairly easy. Hemp is an ideal material for fabric shower curtains, for it is naturally resistant to mold and mildew. Glass doors are also a good alternative to PVC curtains.

Though it is not often seen, glass shower doors can still be used on combination bathtub showers. There are many advantages associated with shower doors. They are usually made out of extremely sturdy glass and don't need to be replaced for several years.

This makes up for the cost and tedium involved in replacing glass doors. They are also easy to clean and don't attract as much mold as shower curtains. When they do get dirty, shower doors can be wiped down with some window cleaner and a rag. While shower doors aren't as colorful or as versatile as shower curtains, there are still different types and style available depending on your needs and tastes.

It is strongly advised that you use a complete shower enclosure if you have a steam shower instead of an ordinary shower, for the heat and moisture from a steam shower can ruin paint jobs and wallpaper.

The main disadvantage of shower doors is that they tend to build up scum around the tracks and the edges when they aren't maintained properly. This buildup looks poor and is very difficult to scrub off. Shower doors also tend to become rickety with age and use, making old shower doors extremely inconvenient. However, they still do last much longer than shower curtains.


Allison Ryan is a freelance marketing writer from San Diego, CA. She specializes in do-it-yourself home improvement, from bathroom fixtures to shower doors. For the ideal steam shower upgrade, check out http://www.mybath.biz/.

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