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how to fix a sliding glass doorSliding glass doors seem to have a “split personality”–when they work well, they couldn’t be more convenient, but when they’re getting stuck, popping off the track or otherwise acting stubborn, they can become a real nuisance. As a builder or contractor, it’s not uncommon to find replacing sliding glass doors on your clients’ home improvement lists (especially for older homes), but how can you know whether or not it’s really time to do it? Below are some tips to help you know when, why and how to replace sliding glass doors.

Some Clear Signs That It’s Time to Replace Sliding Glass Doors

If it takes the strength of Hercules to open or shut your client’s sliding glass doors, more than likely it’s time to replace them. Not only is this a very annoying problem for clients to deal with, but it can also be a potential safety hazard in emergency situations where a quick exit is needed.

There are several reasons why sliding doors can be difficult to open or close, but some of the main ones include:

  • The door has become misaligned from its tracks
  • The rollers are damaged or otherwise not functioning properly
  • There is damage to the frame
  • Poor installation
  • Weather-related damage

Another common sign that it’s time to replace sliding glass doors is if you see any gaps between the two doors, or between the door(s) and the frame. This is not only unsafe, but it’s costing your clients money on their heating and cooling bills as well. Even if you don’t see any gaps, sliding glass doors can still be very energy inefficient; for example, if you can feel any kind of draft when you stand by the door, it’s time for a replacement. Older houses are notorious for having sliding glass doors that are horribly energy inefficient, so if the sliding doors you’re examining are several decades old, more than likely they will need to be replaced.

Basic Steps to Replacing Sliding Glass Doors

  1. Take all of the necessary measurements to find out the width of the rough opening (distance between the studs), as well as its height (distance from floor to beam). This will ensure that you’re buying the right sized doors for the replacement.
  2. Keep in mind that sliding glass doors have two basic components: The stationary panel and the sliding panel. Pry loose any exterior trim elements, and then remove the sliding panel first, followed by the stationary panel.
  3. Apply flexible, leak-proof flashing to the doorsill, sides and top (if needed) of the opening. Start by applying the flashing at the bottom first, then work your way up.
  4. Install the new door. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions for that particular door, because door handles, lock hardware, weatherstripping systems, and installation methods can vary from one manufacturer to the next.
  5. Finish up the inside by adding extension jambs and trim, then finish the outside by adding trim and support strips. Add caulking to seal it all up.

No matter what type of sliding door replacement job you perform, you’re going to need quality materials that can meet your high standards and please your clients as well. Nisbet Brower, the premier building materials supplier in Cincinnati, OH, offers an outstanding selection of sliding glass patio doors, as well as all of the hardware, frame and trim materials you’ll need to complete the job.

Nisbet Brower can also provide you with a wide variety of Low-E, noise reduction and/or impact resistant glass to meet your project specifications and create an energy efficient solution for your clients. Contact us today and speak with one of our building professionals to help you determine which supplies and materials will be the best fit for your project objectives.