Sliding Door Installation Guide Basics + 11 Pro Tips

Sliding door hardware works best with wooden doors. In fact, it’s made to hang and slide heavy wooden doors. From flat track to box track systems, installing sliding doors can be tricky for a commercial space.

Sliding doors are the space-saving, stylish alternative to your plain traditional door, and these unique entryways offer a different aesthetic for your opening. However, to install these doors, contractors and interior designers must consider the form and function to match the right track and door.

Any problems with installation can lead to starting over, which is why it’s important to know the application and traffic, in addition to accurate measurements. 

To avoid all those issues, we’ve put together six proper sliding door installation tips based on the experience from our sliding door experts. 

What to Know Before Installing a Sliding Door

Due to the design, doors hang from a track, sliding along to open and close.  Without proper installation, these doors may not function properly, such as scraping against the floor or not closing quietly. 

Not only does that destroy the aesthetic and convenience of the door, you may have safety issues if you don’t pick the right track hardware for your sliding door. 

1. Tools and Hardware You’ll Need

Door installation typically requires the door, sliding door track mounting hardware, and sufficient solid horizontal header for door support. You don’t want to install a sliding door without any support. It’s a good idea to consult the install instructions before getting started.

Here are the tools you’ll need:

  • Drill
  • Router
  • Level

2. How Will You Hang Your Sliding Door

Since sliding doors are very heavy and hang from above, you’ll want to make sure that the track system is affixed to a properly supported header or wall proper blocking to keep the door in place and avoid damage. 

We also recommend a solid strand top rail on the door. 

If installing a side wall track system also known as a "barn door system", ensure the wall blocking is present behind the gypsum board. Also ensure that the fasteners for the track system will be installed where the wall blocking is present.

In addition, the track should at least match the width of the sliding door multiplied by two for a single door. Your header support should cover this entire distance before you begin installation. 

Other quick things to consider for proper track installation:

  • Use a level to determine that track is level and plumb
  • Measure the gap at the bottom and the overlap at top, you should have enough clearance for the door to move smoothly
  • Make sure that the track system is secure on the support before hanging the door

3. Where Will You Position the Sliding Door

Before installing the sliding door, you need to check out the space for outlets and light fixtures that will get in the way of the door’s operation. 

It’s imperative that you don’t puncture any wires behind the wall. If you do need to make changes, it’s best to work with a licensed electrician to avoid any issues. 

You should also look over the area where the sliding door will be located when open. There may be furniture in the way or outlets that will be blocked, which should be fixed and relocated before you begin the installation. 

4. How Wide and Tall Should Your Sliding Door Be

There is one rule of thumb for door sizing. You want a door that is larger than the entry space. You want a door that can block light from the top and the sides when shut. If you have a very large opening, you may want to use two sliding doors that meet in the middle. 

One thing to keep in mind with sliding doors is that they aren’t completely private or secure. You’ll be able to hear sounds from the small gaps at the bottom and sides, which is why Pemko offers gaskets to seal sliding doors. 

Additionally, when accounting for the door’s size, you should include a 1/4” to 2” gap at the bottom (depending on clearance required for the guide on the system you are installing) and 1 to 2 inch overlap between the door and opening at the top. 

We recommend a minimum of 2" of overlap on each vertical edge of the door over the opening. This will cover the guide and help reduce sight lines.

  • Check our door sizing guide for more information and equations for sizing

5. Match Door Weight with the Compatible Track

Installers need to ensure the hardware provided does support the actual door weight. Consult specifications in the product description or go to installation instructions to find out how much weight the system will support. 

Not sure if it will work out? Contact our support and chat online

6. How To Prevent Sliding Door from Swinging

Another problem that some installers see is that the sliding door isn’t stable or may swing when trying to close or open it. To keep a sliding door stable and prevent swinging, you’ll need to attach it to a wall- or floor-mounted guide. This allows the door to stay on track at all times. 

7. Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

Whenever you install a sliding door with special dimensions, heavier weights, or peculiar weight distribution, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s instructions first. Often, you’ll find the exact specifications and ratings for door weights that match sliding door hardware, as well as some answers to issues.

  • See our guide to Troubleshooting Common Sliding Door Issues

8. Clean Track and Check for Debris

You’ve got the hardware and track in place. Now what? Before you move to the next step, ensure that debris or metal clippings haven’t gotten into the track. This saves you a lot of trouble later on. Aluminum and steel box track systems are notorious for hiding metal shavings after installation that cause push-force issues once you try to pull the door down the track. 

9. Check Door Hardware and Door is Level

It’s always best to have a level in hand to install sliding door hardware. Even after you’ve finished installing a day, it’s a good idea to double check that the track and door are level. Check that the weight of the door is evenly distributed before continuing with installation. 

10. Hanger Door Installation - Pro Tip

For installers working with adjustable hangers (or wheels), the door must be precisely level for the best fit. You should be able to easily adjust hangers until level. If you are working with non-adjustable hangers, then check the track and mounting location of hangers. 

In addition, hangers attached to the door’s top edges must be installed in the center of the door’s thickness for the most even weight distribution.  

If you need help locating the centerline of the door top edge, visit our ASSA ABLOY tool for quick help.

11. Proper Location for Bottom Guide

Most sliding doors will need a bottom guide to ensure stable and proper operation. The manufacturer’s instructions should provide the proper location and installation references if needed. 

How Did Your Sliding Door Installation Go?

If you ever need to chat online with Pemko experts about sliding doors, head to our support page

See all Pemko sliding door hardware kits, including steel hardware and barn door hardware.