How to Replace a Sliding Glass Door
Glass features can provide an appealing sheen, open up an entire room, and accentuate the light on both sides of a door. In particular, sliding glass doors are a beautiful and functional addition to a back porch, a shower entrance, or as a mirrored sliding closet door. Unfortunately, anything made of glass is easy to crack or break, including sliding glass doors. If you find yourself needing to replace a sliding glass door, here’s how.
Get the Right Tools
To start, you need to have the right tools for the job. Replacing a sliding glass door, like many complex jobs, requires specific tools, and you wouldn’t want to attempt a repair without them. Some of the tools you’ll need are a part of basic toolsets such as a tape measure, a level, a Phillips-head screwdriver, a flat head screwdriver, pliers, and a razor blade. You’ll also need a drill, a pry bar, and a rubber mallet, as well as a number of saws: a circular saw, miter saw, and reciprocating saw. Most people don’t have all these tools on hand, but you may be able to rent them from your local Home Depot. Other tools that might be required are 3-inch No. 8 wood screws, expanding foam sealant for doors and windows, and weatherproof silicone window and door caulk. There is also some safety equipment you should use during a repair: safety goggles, gloves, and proper footwear and clothing to protect yourself.
Select a Replacement Door
Once you have your tools, it’s time to select your replacement door. Obviously, the glass will be one of the most important components. You shouldn’t pick just any glass for your new door. Glass for sliding doors should be durable and sturdy, ideally made from tempered or safety glass designed to break in a manner that avoids making sharp shards. You’ll probably need something that’s roughly ⅜-½ in. thick. You’ll have some choices to make as to whether you want clear, frosted, obscure, textured or tinted glass.
Remove the Door, Doorframe, and Threshold
Now that you’ve got your tools and you’ve chosen your replacement sliding glass door, it’s time to get to work. The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the existing door, doorframe, and threshold. Remember to remove any curtains or blinds before you get started. There’s a good chance that this project will get messy, so lay down a tarp over the floor and nearby furniture if you’re concerned about getting dust or glass on these areas.
If a screen door is present, remove this first. Lift the screen door so it comes free of the bottom track and pull it out. Then remove the stationary panel of the sliding door. Remove any screws holding it in place with your drill first. Move the panel away from the wall with the pry bar, so you have space to grip on both sides. Then, repeat the removal maneuver you used to pull out the screen door as this should also work to remove the sliding portion of the door.
For the doorframe and threshold, start by removing any screws or nails. Then use your pry bar to pull them away from the door opening. If that doesn’t work, take the reciprocating saw and cut through the center of the doorframe at the top. Then use your pliers to carefully collapse them inward, starting with the cut portion.
Score the Drywall, Cut the Weather Stripping
To make it easier to get a clean break and to avoid damaging the surrounding drywall, take your razor blade and score the drywall around the existing doorframe and threshold. Cut the weather stripping around it as well.
Prep the New Doorframe and Threshold for Mounting
In some cases, the trim can’t be removed. If this is the case, you’ll need to prepare the new doorframe and threshold for mounting by removing the mounting strip it came with. To do this, score along the bottom edge of the mounting strip with your razor blade. Then, take your pliers and bend the mounting strip back and forth until you can snap it off.
Prep the Doorway for the New Door
In a perfect world, the doorway would be a perfect fit for the new door. That isn’t always the case, though. If you need to widen the doorway, start by measuring how much of the existing doorway needs to be removed and mark it. Score along the markings, making sure you score deep enough to break the drywall. Use the edge of your pry bar to break off the drywall you need to remove. Apply pressure to the drywall you want to keep simultaneously so you don’t crack it. Remove the drywall along with any debris. If flooring needs to be removed, use the circular saw on hardwood or laminate, the razor blade on carpet, and a wet tile saw with a diamond blade on ceramic tile. Remember to use your safety gear during these steps. After you’re finished, remove any remaining dust and debris.
Install the New Doorframe
The new doorframe is the first component that should be installed. Remove the sliding door portion first. You’ll replace it after you have the doorframe in place. Position the doorframe so that the track for the sliding door panel is facing the home’s interior and the tracks for the stationary panel and screen doors face out. Lift the doorframe into place and use a rubber mallet to tap it into the opening. Level the frame and insert a No. 8 wood screw into each corner and the center of each vertical side.
Insert the Panel
Lift the sliding panel up and into the top track. Push the door away from you and up so that you can position the bottom of the door onto the bottom track. Make wheel adjustments as necessary. The door should slide horizontally at this point.
Install the Screen Door
Repeat the process you used to insert the sliding panel to install the screen door. This door should also slide horizontally.
Calk and Seal
Caulking and sealing are essential to prevent weather damage and to insulate the home. Following the directions on the containers, apply expanding foam caulking to large gaps around the interior and exterior of the frame. Let it cure before you remove excess caulking. Use weatherproof silicone caulking around the exterior of the frame to completely seal the edges. Once everything has cured, you can install your blinds, curtains, and decorative moldings.
Whew! You can officially breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve finally made it to the end, so now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the finished result. If this process sounds like too much, you can skip all of that and let us handle it for you.
As you can see, replacing a sliding glass door can be quite a challenge, especially if you aren’t used to doing this sort of work or don’t have access to the relevant tools. The good news is that you aren’t on your own when it comes to glass door repair. No matter what sort of sliding glass door you have, we’re your go-to guys for repairs and replacements. Double mirror sliding doors, single sliding mirror doors, custom mirror sliding doors, or track replacement, we can handle all your sliding glass door repair and replacement needs.