How to Fix Sliding Doors

There’s no denying the advantage of having sliding doors. Likewise, a sliding pocket door or apron door inside the home can add to the visual appeal of home décor while also creating the illusion of a roomier living space. For all their advantages, few people know how to fix sliding doors, even though they’re becoming increasingly more popular across the U.S. and the world.

To that end, we thought we’d help our home and commercial space owners learn how to fix sliding doors with some of the most common repair needs.


Something Probably Feels "Off Track" Because It Literally Is! 

If you've noticed that your sliding door seems to be bumping along, doesn't feel like it's secure in its tracks, or you suddenly have to use an enormous amount of elbow grease just to get it open or closed, it's probably time for a good door track cleaning.

1. First, remove any decor like drapes, curtains, or Venetian blinds that may get in your way. 

2. Next, use a flat head screwdriver to loosen the wheels at the base of the sliding glass door.

3. Removing the sliding door from the tracks may be a two-person job in your house, especially if it's made mostly or entirely out of glass. 

4. With your backup spotting your every move, pull up and away from the lower door tracks—with the loosened base wheels, the sliding door should have both the room and the give to make it off the tracks safely and easily.

5. Set the door aside in a SAFE LOCATION where it won't be cracked, shattered, or nicked up (saw horses are ideal for this). You'll begin the cleaning process on the doorframe tracks first, then the door's tracks and wheels last.

6. Wipe the doorframe tracks clean with clean, dry rags, then again with a solution of one part water and one part white vinegar. Apply liberally with rags, then dry and spot clean stubborn areas with cotton balls or even Q-tips.

7. Once your top and bottom doorframe tracks are clean, you can use the same solution with an old toothbrush or even a small BBQ grill brush to get in between the door rollers and tracks, removing all the grime, crumbs, and ick.

8. Before putting the door back on its tracks, lubricate both door and doorframe tracks with liberal amounts of WD-40

9. Finally, place the door back on the tracks and oula! If there’s still something “off,” check out some of the quick fixes below…


Fixing or Replacing Old Sliding Door Rollers to Stop Door "Jumping" Off or Over Tracks

Rollers that keep large, heavy doors gliding along tracks get worn out after years of facing the elements if the sliding door is an exterior door, or from sliding repeatedly until they’re worn out. In the event your rollers have passed their prime, the best call for safety is to replace them. However, you can try removing, cleaning, and re-lubricating rollers if you have hard-to-find or discontinued door rollers. In either case, with new or used rollers, you’ll need to lubricate and fasten rollers to the sliding door. Follow these steps:

1. To remove old rollers, you must first remove the sliding door from the tracks (follow Steps 3–5 from the above section about cleaning sliding door tracks).

2. While your door is safely at rest on two saw horses (or another stable surface), remove the small screws that hold the rollers in place and set them aside in a very small bowl of white vinegar—allowing them to sit in a vinegar bath will clean screws as you work on door rollers.

3. In many cases, the rollers will actually be fitted to the doorframe tracks. If this describes your door, you'll need a rubber mallet and a block of wood slightly wider than the width of your tracks. Gently and carefully tap the wooden block into the doorframe tracks—by making the tracks wider, the rollers will be ready to give—simply unscrew from here, remove screws, and place in white vinegar bath.

4. Clean the tracks where the rollers obstructed any cleaning you did before (using cleaning instructions above).


Clean or Replace Existing Rollers 

5. Now that your tracks are entirely cleaned, take the old rollers and clean them with an old toothbrush and white vinegar. Allow them to sit for five minutes in the vinegar bath to loosen old, tough grime.

6. Dry by hand with paper towels, carefully get into snugger wheels with Q-tips to remove all the hidden muck and debris. Allow ten minutes to dry after hand drying as well as you can.

7. Whether you plan on installing your repaired and cleaned sliding door rollers or brand new ones, you’ll need to lubricate at this point. Choose a thin viscosity oil like WD-40 for the overhead rollers, but lubricate roller wheels with a thicker, synthetic product like silicone.

*Tip: It has been noted that spray-on silicone sprays don't stand the test of time for bottom sliding door tracks and rollers. Rubbing paraffin wax onto bottom tracks and wheels will give you better protection for a longer lasting new honeymoon with your sliding door.

8. Next, install your new or freshly cleaned, dried, and lubricated sliding door rollers to the (cleaned) door or doorframe where they belong.

9. Reinstall the door into the frame and onto the tracks, you’re all set!


The Other Most Common Reason Your Sliding Door Isn’t Sliding: Track Replacement

Problem still not resolved? It could be that your track is no longer straight. In this event, you’ll need to replace tracks, as most repairs are not long-lasting and could cause your door to unsafely jump the track and come down on top of someone. Seek a professional for this repair.