How to Build a Sliding Door


With the exception of glass or mirrored doors, sliding doors are simply manufactured doors that are fitted with rollers and guides. An experienced woodworker with a fully outfitted workshop can make doors and set them up as sliders. But, the average do-it-yourself enthusiast often finds this type of project time-consuming and difficult. You can convert a pair of doors to sliders or purchase new doors at most home centers. Obtain a pair of doors based on the size of the doorway, and include a sliding door kit with rollers, guides and the roller track.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Hacksaw
  • Sanding block
  • Power or cordless drill
  • Screw-tip attachment
  • Sawhorses
  • 1-inch by 2-inch pine
  • Utility knife
  • Circular saw with fine-tooth blade
  • C-clamps

Roller Track

  • Determine the length of the roller track by measuring the width of the door opening between the inner faces of the jambs at each side. For interior sliding doors, the track installs across the top of the door opening. For exterior doors, measure the width of the opening at floor height.

  • Measure and mark the roller track to length. Cut the track with a hacksaw and remove any burrs at the cut end with a sanding block.

  • Set up a power or cordless drill with a screw-tip attachment. Position the track at the top of the opening or at the floor and align the inner edge with the inner edges of the doorjambs at each side. Attach the track across the top of the opening or at the floor with the provided screws at each of the machined holes in the track.

Doors and Rollers

  • Place one of the doors flat atop two sawhorses. Position the sawhorses, as necessary, so that the door is stable. Attach both rollers at the top edge of an interior door, or at the bottom edge of an exterior door using the provided screws. Typically, the rollers are 2 inches from the corresponding outer edges of the door.

  • Determine how much of the door must be cut off. Measure the distance from the center of the roller to the opposite end of the door at each edge of the door. Note this measurement. For an interior door, measure the vertical distance from the center of the roller channel on the track to the floor, and vice versa for an exterior door. The difference between the measurements is the amount that is cut off the door.

  • Mark the door to length at each of the long edges based on the measurements. Place a piece of 1-inch by 2-inch pine across the face of the door and align one edge with the marks. Use the edge as a guide and score a cutting line across the face of the door with a utility knife.

  • Set up a circular saw with a fine-tooth blade. Cut the door at the scored line and sand the upper and lower edges of the door with the sanding block.

  • Install the door by inserting the rollers into the appropriate channel in the roller track. Ask an assistant to hold the door straight up and down. For an interior door, attach the provided guides at the floor so that each aligns with the inner edge of the door. Attach the guides for an exterior door at the top doorjamb and against each side of the door. Use the provided screws to attach the guides.

  • Slide the door open and closed several times. Adjust the position of the guides, as necessary, so that the door moves easily without wobbling. Repeat the steps in this section to attach the rollers at the remaining door, cut the door and install it in the opening.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sliding door hardware kits and installation varies with the manufacturer. Always review the instructions beforehand.
  • With some exterior door hardware kits, the roller mechanisms are mortised into the bottom edge of the door. Use a wood chisel and hammer or router and mortise bit to mortise the door.
  • Select latches, door handles or locks that complement the design and finish of the doors. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions and use the provided template to position and install the latches, handles or locks.
  • Always wear eye protection when cutting doors and lumber with a power saw.

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