Replacing Shower Doors

Dear NH,
A coworker wants to remove a shower door and put up curtain and rod instead. His problem is that the tub and shower surround is a one piece fiberglass unit. He wants to know if there is a way to fill the holes that remain from the track removal attached to the tub and surround. He also wonders if there is some sort of resin kit with color matching or even some type of smooth or low rounded plugs that could be installed and painted to match tub color.

If the entire enclosure was in wretched shape I would suggest looking into a complete refinish job, which would repair the holes plus resurface the entire shebang. Mention this up front because your friend may find removal of the doors may produce more damage than expected. Besides the obvious holes in the sides of the enclosure, the bottom track for the doors is typically glued in place with caulk. It is not uncommon for the vertical end supports to also be caulked/glued in place. This extra caulking helps prevent leaks but makes removal of the shower door frame more of a chore and the chance of damaging the enclosure during removal is increased.

Extreme care must be taken to remove all visible caulk before attempting removal of the track. Use a thin flexible putty knife between the track and enclosure to break the caulk seal. Unfortunately, small pieces of the enclosure may rip off with the track regardless of the care used in its removal. If the track appears to be very firmly glued, the use of a heat gun to warm the track may soften the caulk enough for easier removal!

As far as masking the screw holes, your friend could purchase a matching adhesive caulk and smooth it into the holes with a damp finger. Some hardware and most home stores carry a variety of colored caulks that are used in plastic laminate countertop work. Since water contact will be minimal in the affected areas this type of caulk should stand up well.

There are also plastic caps (or covers) that mount onto screw heads. They are commonly used in assemble-yourself furniture and in other applications where an exposed screw head is unattractive. I have seen two types. One type of cover has a protrusion on the back that is pressed into the "cross" of a Phillip's head screw. The second is more sophisticated, utilizing a washer-like base that is held onto the surface by the screw. A matching cap snaps onto the base concealing the screw head and protecting it from moisture. This second type is the better of the two... the first type tends to fall off over time unless you glue it in place: a good use for either caulk or GOOP. Either of these screw covers can be painted to match the enclosure with oil or latex paint, or left "au naturel".

copyright 2000 G.G. Alonzy

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