Fixing Stiff Sliding DoorsSliding doors can provide a benefit to your home by saving you space. They can also be an attractive feature opening up space between adjoining rooms onto a patio or into a built in cupboard. Unfortunately sliding doors are occasionally prone to sticking and slight damage. But don’t worry because normally a thorough clean of the mechanism, a mild lubricant and some basic repairs will have your sliding doors fixed in no time.

Problems With Sliding Doors

Dust, dirt, crumbs; bits of paper are the types of things that can get lodged in the tracks on your sliding doors. When matter accumulates this can make the doors stick. It can also increase the risk of damage to the rest of the mechanism, or the doors themselves, when the door is pulled sharply.

Wear and tear also contributes to stiffening. Dents and bends to the runners are a common problem from long-term or over exuberant use. It’s worth advising kids to go easy when opening and closing sliding doors.

Regular sweeping or vacuuming is also advisable to maintain your sliding doors in tip top condition. Occasionally applying a mild lubricant to the rollers is also a good idea – powdered graphite is advisable or a non greasy spray lubricant. Rubbing a block of paraffin across the tracks can achieve similar smooth running results. Using oil is not advisable as it attracts dust and dirt.

Step By Step

  • Sliding doors usually operate on a mechanism of rollers and tracks. If you have a problem with the mechanism you probably need to remove the door first to assess the problem. You can remove the door by sliding it half open and tilting it out. The problem is often resolved by repairing a bent piece of track and cleaning and mildly lubricating the rollers.
  • If the track is bent and rubbing against the door you can straighten it out by tapping it with a piece of wood and hammer. You might have to cram a piece of wood along the track and tap it to straighten out the length of the track. This should ensure easy running.
  • To service the tracks clean them with a clean cloth, sponge and a stiff brush to remove any deeply embedded bits of grit, dirt, etc. Ordinary soap and water will help. Again, there is no need to oil them as this only attracts dirt running the risk of it becoming stuck again.
  • Clean and then lubricate the rollers at the bottom of the door first as this is where most problems occur.
  • Check for any obstructions elsewhere around the mechanism or around the door. Has the door expanded anywhere due to a changing climate? Is the door catching on the frame anywhere? Sometimes doors swell due to moisture in the air. If so the door may need planing. Also check the alignment of the latch on the mechanism and check to see if it’s catching properly when you run it. Loosen its screws and neatly refix the mount with the latch if necessary.
  • Also check the nylon rollers. You may need to have these replaced if they are worn and not functioning properly.
  • Put the door back on. Hopefully it’s working smoothly.

Hanging Sliding Doors

You may need to rehang your sliding doors or replace them completely. This is not difficult. Any door can be made into a sliding door when combined with the appropriate sliding mechanism but ready made, flat pack or built to order sliding doors can be obtained as well.

  • First the door stop needs to be levered up with a chisel.
  • Fix a batten to the wall to support the track which suspends the door. If it’s on a partition wall it must be secured to the batten uprights. You can find these by tapping the wall. You will soon notice where they are.
  • Ideally when fixing the doors there should be enough space at the bottom to keep the doors well clear of the floor.
  • Make sure the track is 100 per cent horizontal then fix the plates and bolts to the top of the door. Secure the guide to the floor and hang the door on the track.
  • It is always advisable to buy a draught excluder and fit it. If you buy a kit it might come with the sliding mechanism.
  • Follow all manufacturers’ instructions and your new doors should glide into action with no problems at all.