Going Green: Refinishing and Reusing the Frame of an Old Sliding Shower Door

What You'll Need
Rubber Mallet
Non-Toxic Degreaser, Goo Removeror Hard Surface Cleaner
Non-Toxic Water Based Caulk
Non-Toxic Acrylic Sealer/Primer and Paint

Reusing the frame of an old sliding shower door is an easy process that will not only give a bathroom a new look, but will also help to save money. As an added benefit, by using the right tools and environmentally friendly chemicals, do-it-yourselfers can feel good about themselves because they are actually helping the environment. Recycling an old shower frame is a green procedure that reduces waste and can lower the amount of volatile organic compounds in a bathroom.

Step 1 – Remove the Frame

This is generally the hardest part of recycling a shower door frame because if the the frame is going to be damaged it is usually during the initial removal phase. First, remove the shower doors. Depending on the type, these doors may be heavy and require two people to remove. Generally, they can be lifted and angled in such a way that allows them to be removed from their rollers without having to unscrew anything.

Once the doors are out, check for screws that may attach the frame to the shower surround or tile. If any are found, remove them. Many door frames are only held in place by copious amounts of caulking that simply needs to be scraped away. Use a natural degreaser or goo remover and a razor to remove the caulk, and with it, the frame. A pry bar may be used to aid in the frame removal, but be gentle: metal frames tend to bend easily and if they do, they will have to be repaired before re-installation.

Step 2 – Refinishing the Fame

Using a natural degreaser and razor, scrape or wipe away any excess caulk that may be left on the door. Non-toxic hard surface cleaners can be used to remove any tarnish or mildew that may have collected on the surface or back side of the door frame. If the frame was bent at all during the removal process, use a rubber mallet to try and straighten the piece. Straight tight fitting door frames are important for showers so that no pockets exist beneath the door frame for water to collect in. Once the frame is clean, it is wise to use a non-toxic acrylic sealer/primer and paint to make the frame more corrosion resistant. 

Step 3 – Reinstall the Frame on the New Shower

Lift the frame into position on the new shower. If the frame needs to be secured with screws, mark the screw holes with a pencil, remove the frame and pre-drill pilot holes before setting the frame back into place and securing it.  Next, using water-based non-toxic caulking, seal the edges of the frame all the way around. Use a finger and a rag to clean up any excess caulk before it has a chance to set. Once the caulking has dried, re-install the shower doors by angling them back into the frame. Again, a friend might be helpful when re-intalling the doors.