How to Make a Patio Sliding Door Slide Easier

How to Make a Patio Sliding Door Slide Easier

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If you’ve ever gone to open the patio door only to have it stick, need extra pressure, or not move at all you know how frustrating of a problem it can be. Before you replace the whole door, though, there’s plenty of DIY options you can try at home – so here’s how to make a patio sliding door slide easier. 

This post is near and dear to my heart. You see, for over two years I suffered with a very frustrating patio door – one that I had to force open every time I used it. I ended up trying everything, and ultimately fixing the problem!

I have one of those old school wooden patio doors, too. When it first started sticking I assumed that it was just dated. Or maybe the wood had warped over the years and it wasn’t fitting into the track anymore. 

How to Make a Patio Sliding Door Slide Easier

Turns out there were some options to make that door less sticky, and it barely cost me anything to fix it! Here’s everything I learned on how to make a patio sliding door slide easier that you can try yourself.

How to Make a Patio Sliding Door Slide Easier editorial image of a living space with open patio sliding door

Before You Start

Ideally you should remove the sliding door before starting. Most doors are easy to take out with minimal tools. 

But, if you can’t remove the door, repeat each of these tricks on both sides of the track (slide the door open or closed to work on the opposite side). Don’t forget to repeat the steps on the screen door (when needed). 

Clean the Guide

Everything works better after a good cleaning. This is basic home maintenance, but if you’ve neglected to clean out the tracks that your door runs on then it could lead to some resistance as it slides over the debris.

Give the tracks a good cleaning and make sure you get all the little pieces out of the crevices. I recommend using a vacuum cleaner (or shop vac) to get the job done, then wipe with a damp cloth.

If that doesn’t work, you can try cleaning with Dawn dish soap. Not only does it remove dirt, it can also work as a lubricant. A small scrubbing brush or old toothbrush also works great! 

Paraffin Wax

This is by far the cheapest and easiest solution to almost anything sticking around the house. I use it on wooden drawers to help them slide easier, too. Anyway, it’s really to use paraffin wax on a patio door to help it slide better.

All you have to do is run the wax along both sides of the track. Don’t worry about getting wax on the other parts of the door frame, it shouldn’t affect anything. In fact, some wax on the bottom where the door sits could help too.

Once you’ve applied the wax, run the door back and forth over the area a few times. It should start sliding better right away!

I personally like paraffin wax as a lubricant because it’s non toxic. 

Silicone Lubricant

If you need something stronger than the paraffin wax, or don’t have any available, a silicone lubricant will also do the job. WD-40 is the most popular brand, but any kind of silicone based lubricant spray will do the trick.

This is a bit messier than the wax, and toxic, so use caution especially around kids and pets. One good thing about the silicone lubricant is that it actually resists dirt, which means less cleaning in the future.

Check for Obstructions and Damage

Weatherstripping can sometimes come off or get out of place and create extra friction on your patio door. Do a quick check of the door frame and make sure nothing could be creating resistance against the door when it slides or getting caught in the rollers.

You should also inspect the door, track, and frame for any damage that could be affecting functionality. 

Check the Rollers

The rollers on the bottom of the door also need to be cleaned when you’re trying to make a patio door slide easier. Adding a bit of lubricant to the wheels will help them slide more smoothly too.

Some patio doors have adjustment holes for the wheels. If yours does, try setting them to the highest option and seeing if that helps. Once the door is back on the guide rail you can tweak the wheels until they’re gliding smoothly. 

Damaged wheels can also sometimes be replaced without changing out the whole patio door. 

Make Sure the Door is on the Track

This was actually my door’s main problem. The door, which was sticking, had come off the track after we forced it too many times. Either when you put the door back in or before you begin, check to make sure the door is situated properly on the track.

In most cases you’ll probably need to take the door completely out first before getting it back into position. 

If you’ve removed the door to clean or lubricate the track, take care to make sure it goes back on properly. This is the most common reason for a newly replaced door that won’t slide.

Hire a Professional or Replace the Door

If you’re not handy and none of these things help make sliding your patio door easier then it’s time to hire a professional. Depending on the age of your door, a handyman might be a good first step before replacing the whole door.

They can check to make sure there’s nothing broken that you’ve missed, and make adjustments that could help the door slide easier. 

For older patio doors (like mine) that you were thinking of replacing it might be a better idea to jump right to that. You’ll probably still need to hire a handyman or installation service, but at least you’ll have a new, energy efficient door at the end of things. 

Final Thoughts on How to Make a Patio Sliding Door Slide Easier

Hopefully by now you have a working door! These tips are tried and true to make a patio sliding door slide easier, and I’ve personally tested them out. Remember: with proper sliding door maintenance you will extend the life of your door and save money in replacement costs. 

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