Here's How to Install Sliding Glass Doors

by Team HomeServe
a male contractor wearing black work gloves installing a sliding glass door into a new home

Replacing an old patio door with a more modern one that has double glazing, UV coatings or other energy-saving features can make your home more comfortable year-round. It may be time to replace your exterior sliding glass doors if they steam up easily, or if they tend to stick and cleaning the rollers hasn't solved the problem.

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If you’re simply removing and replacing an existing door, you should be able to install sliding glass doors on your own. Here’s how.

How Do You Install a Sliding Glass Door Frame?

One of the most important things is measuring to make sure the new door will be a perfect fit for the opening. Take extra care over this step to avoid unnecessary frustration down the line. Remove any trim and measure the rough opening and the height. Double-check the measurements to ensure a perfect fit.

Installing a sliding glass door frame is a relatively simple process — assuming you're replacing an old frame and the rough opening is already cut. It's vital to clean the opening and install flashing for weatherproofing before you insert the new frame. Then, carefully screw the frame into place, checking that it's square and level as you go. Full instructions for installing a door frame are provided as part of the step-by-step guide below.

Sliding Glass Door Installation

Things You’ll Need

First, gather your supplies:

  • Spirit level
  • Screwdriver set
  • Clamps
  • Drill
  • Pry bar
  • Tape measure
  • Table saw
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Nail gun
  • Miter Saw
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Flashing
  • PVC Cement
  • Silicone caulk
  • Shims
A handsome young man installing Double Sliding Patio Door in a new house construction site

Step-by-Step Guide

The process of sliding door installation is similar to standard door installation. However, because sliding glass panels can be delicate, it's important to work carefully.

  1. Latch the door and remove the head stop from the inside.
  2. Unlatch the door and tip the top end of the panel inwards. Carefully lift it out of the track.
  3. Locate any angle brackets at the top and bottom of the stationary panel and remove them.
  4. Pry the panel free from the frame. You may need to cut the caulk or paint using your knife to work the panel free when you do this.
  5. Pry away any exterior trim and cut the jambs free.
  6. Tip the top of the door frame outward to remove it.
  7. Clean the area around the frame so that it's ready for the next step.
  8. Apply leakproof flashing around the door, making sure to cover the whole surface.
  9. Fit a sill pan for extra weather protection.
  10. Check the floor level and fix it if necessary.
  11. Apply caulk to any areas where there are gaps to reduce drafts keep water from coming in.
  12. Assemble your new door frame and test the fit in the opening.
  13. Once you're satisfied the frame is a perfect fit, apply silicone caulk to the threshold and carefully insert the frame into the opening.
  14. Screw the frame into place, checking that it's square and adjusting as you go.
  15. Tip the stationary panel into the frame opening and anchor the panel with brackets.
  16. Tip the sliding glass panel or screen door into the frame and screw the stop into place.
  17. Slide the door until it is slightly open and tweak the roller heights until they're level and the door moves smoothly.
  18. Install any locks and hardware.
  19. Add insulation. Fiberglass is preferable to foam due to the risk of foam damaging the jamb. Then, replace the interior trim.
  20. Fill any gaps on the exterior with strips and caulk and replace the exterior trim.

Take care when removing and inserting doors. Glass panels can be deceptively heavy and are easily damaged. For that reason, it’s a good idea to recruit a second person to help with lifting and moving the doors.

After removing the old frame, you'll need to dispose of it. Depending on the material the frame is made of, you may wish to cut it into sections for ease of transport and recycling.

a male contractor applies caulk or sealant along the base of a sliding glass door

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How Long Does It Take to Remove and Install a Sliding Glass Door?

If you have all the tools and materials required on hand, you should be able to complete a sliding door replacement job in a day, including the time required to clean up and dispose of any waste materials. Pre-hung glass doors are the easiest type to install but are also slightly more expensive.

If you're not confident in your ability to do the job well, consider hiring a professional, especially if the doors you're replacing are exterior doors. Unlike a simple decorating job, working with exterior doors carries some risk both in terms of security and weatherproofing, so it's crucial that the job is completed properly.