Ask any industry expert about the popularity of frameless shower enclosures and they will all echo the same view: sales are on the rise. This coveted look has captured the attention of consumers. and in doing so boosted sales.
Managing director of Aqata, Jayne Barnes comments: “We have seen a consistent increase of sales on our range of lrameless for the past three years: the split is now 50:50.” And marketing manager of Robert Lee Distribution. Matt Earle agrees: “Over the past two to three years, the sale of frameless shower enclosures has increased dramatically. The majority of shower brands now include frameless designs within their portfolio.” But arguably. what is less clear is what the bathroom industry actually terms as a frameless shower enclosure.
Frameless or ‘frameIess’
Following the success of luxury frameless enclosures. the look has filtered from the premium sector into the mid-market. It has not only widened sales opportunities but expanded the definition too. (See Expert View). creating a ‘frameless look.
Advantages of adjustment
But the ‘frameless’ or partially- framed enclosure has its place as it has the benefits of adjustability over true frameless models, which need straight walls for installation. It can be particularly beneficial in older properties with walls that are out-of-true. Managing director of Lakes Bathrooms. Robin Craddock adds: “With some brands. adjustability may be a challenge. Some frameless enclosures offer no adjustability and simple glass panels will require setting into walls to add essential rigidity.”
Chameleon in design
But whether it’s a genuine frameless model or a ‘frameless’ look shower enclosure, the appeal is enduring.
And although the style is often associated with contemporary bathrooms, experts say the fiameless look can meet the trends for the latest in heritage fashions too. Jayne Barnes of Aqata, explains: “They sit comfortably with any style of room, be it modern or traditional. Fiameless shower enclosures and screens accentuate the beauty of the space without distracting from it. They are timeless, sleek and versatile.”
Moving customers up-market
But with such a minimal look, how can designers and retailers encourage clients to trade up? “The main elements of design that distinguish the higher-end fmmeless enclosures are those, which by their very nature are not obvious,” says marketing manager of Aqualux, Sandra Hyde, but points out the thickness of glass and panel height can differentiate an enclosure. She says: “High quality materials are used, such as 8mm glass panels, [which are] 2000mm in height. Door seals are minimalist and magnetic. Clever design techniques are employed to conceal fixings and moving parts. This could be a discrete method of adjusting and fixing profiles to the wall without a silicon finish, a concealing strip for door rollers or even making them a feature of the enclosure design.”
And Nick Rowland of Heritage Bathrooms agrees, adding that ‘easy-clean’ coatings can also help move consumers towards higher- priced models: “MateriaI thickness and anti-plaque coatings are the most distinguishing features when looking at price point.”
Evolving glass options
And of course manufacturers are continuing to evolve the frameless look, with curves, colours and even patterned glazing coming to the fore. Robin Craddock of Lakes Bathrooms predicts that the future design influences on the frameless enclosures will be the choice of glazing: “The only obvious thing is the possibility ofdifferent glass options, creating variant types and styles to give contmst and variety to the clear glass option that makes up the majority currently.”
So make sure you’re in the frame (or not, as the case may be) for these enclosure sales. They are only going to become more visible in bathroom design.