The Best Way To Fix A Wooden Sliding Door

Wooden sliding doors are a practical and stylish alternative to the more-popular swinging doors. Clera remarks that they are a better choice because they let in ventilation and are safer since they can't swing into anyone. Sadly, like every other piece of furniture, wooden sliding doors are prone to damage, especially if your doors often come in contact with water.

One of the most predominant signs that your sliding door has problems is difficulty opening or closing it, which can be caused by age and use. As your wooden sliding door ages, its track and rollers can become bent or misaligned (via Alderfer Glass). This is what causes the uncomfortable squeaking or grinding sound. Luckily, there are several ways to repair a damaged wooden sliding door.

Before we get started, a word of advice from Slider Fix is to avoid greasing or oiling your door's tracks because it can make them sticky and dirty. If your wooden sliding door is not working well, this article will teach you how to diagnose and safely fix it. The tools you'll need will depend on what is wrong with your door, so be sure to read this post thoroughly before buying supplies. 

Removing the wooden sliding door

Several things could be causing your door's problems, so you'll need to remove it to inspect its wood, track, and rollers which control the sliding mechanism. It's important to note that different sliding door models are removed differently. When removing the sliding door, Glass Doctor advises against forcing anything out of place to avoid damaging it. You'll also need a partner because the door can pop out while you're unscrewing.

According to Doors & More, some sliding doors can be removed with a little lift to pop them out, but larger doors usually tighten their parts, making it impossible to remove them this way. If your door is like this, you'd need to unscrew the wood strips surrounding your door's track to remove it. 

When the screws are all out, you can remove the top strip of wood that held your door and its track down. Be careful with this straight piece of wood — you don't want to break or damage it. Set it aside and see if your door can be safely removed. If this doesn't work, you'd need to remove the door attached to the tracks.

Removing the door's tracks

If you removed your door in the above step, you only need to do this step if your tracks are damaged. Some of the most common signs of track damage are visible bends or misalignments. Other tell-tale signs are dirty or greasy tracks, making it hard for the wheels to roll smoothly. Slides Rite Sliding Door Repair and Installations states that it is normal for a sliding track to be damaged after many years due to dirt, debris, and constant use. However, using too much force on your doors can damage them prematurely (per Sliding Door Stuck). 

To get started, undo the screws that hold the track down on all sides. If your door didn't pop out in the first step, now's the time to remove it safely. Check both sides of your door to see which allows you to gently pry the track out without damaging or removing any major parts. It will be a tight fit, but you should be able to stick your screwdriver behind the track and gently coax it out. 

If you've already removed your door, this step will be easy. However, if you haven't, your track will pop out with your sliding door, so having an assistant to hold the door at this level is also important. When your track is free, don't attempt to move it and the door together. Instead, slide the track off the door and transport each separately. 

Fixing and cleaning the sliding door tracks

The extent of the damage on the door's tracks will determine if it needs to be cleaned, repaired, or replaced. If your track is only dirty or greasy, you can clean it to make it good as new. Popular Science advises using a small brush to free up as much dirt as possible before using a vacuum or blower to get it all out. You can also use a damp rag or foam to really get everything clean. Be sure to dry your tracks when you finish — you don't want them rusting.

If the damage is majorly on the raised parts of the track, Dengarden advises purchasing a track cap and fitting in over it. To do this, measure your track so you can order the exact length you need. A more affordable option is to try to straighten the tracks with a sanding stone or pliers — but this may be a short-term fix. If the damage is on the flat parts of the track, these methods will not help, so you'll need to replace it entirely.

Fixing the door's wood

If your door's wood is damaged, you'd need to fix it before taking the rollers out. The wood at the bottom and top sides near the rollers can easily get damaged, especially if the rollers and track are also worn, because it allows the door's top and bottom to make direct contact with the tracks each time you use the door. This friction will slowly damage your wood and can permanently ruin it if the damage isn't reversed.

A common sign of damage in wooden doors is rot. According to Mr. Handyman, wood rot is caused by fungus in damp wood. If your door's wood is worn or rotted, you'll need to cut out the rotted parts and replace them, so the rot doesn't spread. If the cut-out part is significant, Door Stop advises measuring and cutting out a new piece of wood to fit the gap. You could fit this in with either nails or glue. If the gap is smaller, you can fill it with wood filler, but you might need several coats of this.

After repairing the wood, you'd need to smooth the surface with sandpaper suitable for your wood type. Then, to prevent further damage and rot, Vivid Doors advises priming and finishing the wood. Finally, you can move on to assess the rollers in the door.

Fixing sliding door's rollers

Your door's rollers are responsible for sliding on the tracks. So, damaged rollers can significantly affect your door's ability to function smoothly. The top and bottom track rollers are usually different, but both can be damaged. Sadly, you may have to take them out completely to inspect them. Or you could just rotate them and see how smoothly they turn.

iFixit advises placing your door on a flat surface before using a screwdriver to undo the screws that hold the rollers to the door. With a careful tug, you should be able to take the rollers out and check if they need to be replaced. Luckily, this is easy to determine because damaged rollers are usually worn-out, making them slightly shorter, thinner, and less effective.

In addition, when the rollers are damaged, the ensemble becomes visibly shaky. If your rollers are beyond repair, Glass Doctor states that replacing them will be easier if you get the same model and specifications. This way, the new roller will be a perfect fit and save you the tough job of adjusting the new one to fit your door. Once you have your new top and bottom rollers, you can fit them in as easily as you took them out.