How To Remove, Install and Adjust External Sliding Doors

Fenton Patio Door - Double Slider

How To Remove, Install and Adjust External Sliding Doors

Installing a sliding patio door in your home is an excellent way to welcome in sunlight and lower the barriers between the confines of your home and the fresh, bright world outside.

And if you’ve already got an opening in your home that is large enough to fit the doors in, you may even consider installing them yourself. It might even save you a few pennies.

But before you take on a job like this, you’ll need to know exactly what it entails. So we’ve put together this easy to follow guide that covers all the steps of installing and adjusting sliding doors.

We’ve even included instructions to help you remove your old door ready for the new arrival.

Should you install your external sliding doors yourself?

We’ll be honest with you. Installing a sliding door, particularly an external one, can be a fiddly job.

You need to get the frame that the door sits in level. This in itself can take a lot of time, adjusting, fiddling and can be frustrating.

With internal doors, you have some room for fudging things. If it isn’t exactly the right size, doesn’t hang completely straight, doesn’t open all that smoothly….it’s annoying, and frustrating but it won’t have a major impact on your home or living.

With external doors, any mistakes are going to matter. If it isn’t straight, sealed, and armed with an effective lock, your sliding door will leave you open to damp, drafts and vulnerable to break-ins.  Ensuring you get the fit right is very important.

However, if you’re concerned about costs, particularly after purchase as big as the doors themselves, it is definitely worth considering installing them yourself.

Particularly if you’re quite a handy person, confident in your DIY skills. Installing sliding doors is not the most difficult job it just takes some time.

Just weigh up your options, be honest about your skill set. And read through this guide, to make sure you know exactly what needs to be done if you decide to try this task yourself.

How to remove an existing external sliding door?

Before you can install your new door, the first thing you need to do is take out the old one. This is actually quite a straightforward job, but the size and weight of the door may mean it calls for two people.

1.     Take down any door coverings

It’s best to take down any blinds or curtains before removing an old door, even if you plan to keep them for the new one. All that flapping fabric or cord will get tangled, you’ll get caught up, and life will be ten times more difficult than it is to take them down and put them back up.

2.    Remove the adjustment screws on the door

These are found at the bottom of the door, one at the front and one at the back. Use a screwdriver to turn the screws counterclockwise. This raises the rollers that the door runs on and will give you space to ease the door out.

3.    Take the sliding door panel out

As mentioned above, these panels are usually bulky. If you can, grab someone to give you a hand. Stand on the inside of the door and gently ease the door up until you can pop it out of place.

4.   Remove any caps, trim or stops that support the fixed panel

Use a screwdriver or similar to lever off trim or unscrew any stops.

5.    Take out the fixed panel

This will be held in place with screws too, so make sure to remove these first. Again, this step is definitely easier with two people. Carefully tilt the door forwards, and slip it out.

6.    Remove the frame

Only follow this step if you’re completely replacing the door. Gently use a pry bar to lever off as much of the trim and track as possible. This will reveal any nails or screws that are fixing the frame in place.

When all the fixings are removed, it should be easy to pry the frame out. Take it slow and careful. If you do experience any resistance, check again for screws or nails. You don’t want to damage the opening before installing a new door.

7.    Check the jamb

Once the frame is out, take the time to check the opening to make sure that no nails, screws or caulk are poking out that could damage the new frame.

How to install an external sliding door

Installing a sliding door isn’t actually that difficult. Particularly if there are two of you to share the weight and the awkward lifting.

But be warned that most new doors will come disassembled, due to their size and weight. This can be fiddly, getting all the pieces in place. Installing a new jamb and tracks will also up the expertise needed.

1.     Prepare yourself

As with all DIY jobs, the key to success lies in the preparation. Get all your tools together and read any manufacturer’s instructions before you start. Make sure that every single piece you need is present and correct.

If your door does come completely broken down into parts, you will benefit from laying the different parts of the frame out before you start too.

2.    Prepare the opening

Yes, more preparation but this really is vital. Check again for any sharp screws or nail heads sticking out. Then line the opening with ‘flashing’.

‘Flashing’ is a waterproof tape that sticks to the opening to create a seal. Apply it along the bottom and then around six inches up the sides as well.

3.    Put the frame in place

If your frame comes pre-assembled, this should be an easy enough job, though having two people to move the unwieldy frame is useful. If you need to assemble the frame, do so using the manufacturer’s instructions as each model may have specific requirements.

When installing the frame, make sure to get it the right way round. The track that carries the sliding door panel should be facing outwards.

4.   Square up the frame

Use a spirit level to check to check that the frame is absolutely straight. Place shims to address any gaps or inclines. You should also add fibreglass insulation to stop unnecessary heat loss.

This is the most important step in the whole process. Check that everything is level. Then check it again. Once everything is fixed, it will be very hard to make any adjustments.

5.    Fix the frame in place

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions, to check where all the screws and shims are located before fixing everything down. Most frames will have pre-drilled holes for the screws, but it is easier if you know where everything is going.

6.    Put the door panels in

Start with the stationary panel, then place the sliding door panel. You should easily spot the stops that hold the stationary panel in place but don’t tighten them until after both panels are in. You may need a little extra space to get the sliding panel in.

With the stationary and sliding door panel set in place, you can tighten the stops and add the trim that holds them in position.

7.    Seal around the door

Use a waterproof sealant of some kind to ward off any water that might want to sneak into your home round your door frame. Double check for holes, cracks, or gaps and make sure it is totally draught, and waterproof.

Once your sealant is dry, your door should be secure, straight and smooth to use. You can attach any door furniture, like handles or locks, at this point and even start thinking about dressings like blinds or curtains.

How to adjust an external sliding door

Once a door frame is fitted in place, fixed with screws, and sealed with caulk or any other sealant, it is very hard to adjust your door frame. This is why we put so much emphasis above, on getting things level before you fix them.

The best way to adjust a sliding door is always going to be using shims, packers, etc during the installation process rather than as an afterthought.

If you’re feeling cool beads of sweat at the mere thought of all this effort, accuracy and pressure, you may not want to remove or install your own sliding doors.

But, if you’ve discovered that isn’t as difficult as you once thought, and you relish the idea of spending quality time with your tools and your level, then don’t be put off.  It is definitely achievable to do it yourself.

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