Sliding patio doors usually have one stable side, locked in place while the other side slides in front of it. You may want to change which side slides because it was installed wrong or you are renovating the room or exterior and want a new layout. Reversing the stable and slider panels is possible depending on the framing.
Components of a Sliding Door System
The slider has several components you must consider when reversing the sliding door. There is the sliding door itself, sometimes called a slider. There is also the stable panel. The slider track and the frame hold the components in the wall. Newer door models have tracks and frames that come prefabricated for easier installation. If you are installing a new door, the installation instructions merely need to be reversed to accomplish the change from a right sliding door to a left sliding door. Disassembly is required to reverse an already-installed sliding glass door.
As long as the reversal involves moving the stable panel on the same track, you can just switch the panels. The slider can only be pulled out, away from the home. When the slider is on the inside track, the only way to remove it is when the stable panel is removed. When the sliding panel is on the outside track, there is nothing preventing an intruder from removing the slider and entering your home. Also, the lip on the outside track helps keep water from getting into the house when doors are closed. This barrier is reduced when the slider is on the outside track. Slide the stable side from right to left and keep it on the same track, but don't try to put the slider on the outside track.
Taking Components Off
You will need to remove the panel before you remove the slider. The slider generally is removed by pulling it out and away from the home. You will need to remove the screen door if you have one, setting it aside. There is a piece of metal snapped into the bottom of the frame under the stable panel that you can pry up with a flat-head screwdriver. Remove the piece and then go into the house with the slider closed. Unscrew the two to three screws on the wall holding the stable panel in place. Remove the panel, slide the slider to where the panel was and pull that out. Look at the frame and determine if it is one solid piece that must be removed as a whole or if you can remove the track independently. The path of least resistance is being able to remove just the slider track on the top and bottom of the frame. Mark the outside track side with a grease pencil for easy reinstallation.
Making the Switch
Since you are removing the track, check it for wear. This might be the best time to replace it and keep the door sliding smoothly. You will need to most likely reverse the door handle since most doors have the hardware mounting holes on one side of the door. Unscrew them and reinstall them once the door is in place to ensure that you have it correct. You won't need to change any locking mechanisms since the frame allows locking from either the left or right back track.
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