Installing a patio slider door. Improving The View:

Installing A Sliding Patio Door

In This Article:

The frame of a vinyl slider door is set into its opening, squared up and shimmed, then nailed and screwed secure. The fixed and sliding panels are installed, and then the handle.

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Skill Level: 3 (Moderate) Time Taken: 1½ Hours

By , Editor


Installing a sliding patio door is a quick and fairly simple process... once the rough opening has been prepared. Read Framing The Rough Opening to see that step.

The first step in the door installation is to lay the frame face down on the ground in front of the rough opening. A bead of caulking is applied around the top and side nailing flanges, according to the instructions.

Also, a bead of caulk is applied to the sill area where the door will go.

It is possible to install one of these doors with only one person, but we don't recommend it.

The door was placed in the opening and one 2" roofing nail was used to hold the upper right corner.

Then a 4' level was placed across the top frame to ensure a straight and level jamb. Nails were installed in the mid section of the top jamb and at the top left corner.

The instructions for this and many other doors and windows say to use 2" galvanized roofing nails. We don't hammer the nails completely in until the door frame has been set exactly. 

 Once the top flange was straight and true, we measured the diagonals to check for squareness.

Making adjustments is a simple matter of pushing the bottom flange to the left or right.


 This vinyl door frame had a tendency to warp inwards a little, making a slight "hour-glass" shape. Once the overall frame was squared up, we checked the side jambs for plumb. The middle of the jamb had to be pushed outward to make the jambs straight. Roofing nails held the jambs in place.

(The level appears warped in these pictures because of the camera's wide-angle lens)

Once the sides were plumbed, all the nails were pounded in completely, and the remaining nails were installed. The instructions said to space the nails 12" apart or less. 

We had to put a few shims under some parts of the sill, to keep it from rocking.

The frame installed in the rough opening, before the glass doors were installed.


The instructions said to install screws through the sill into the structure, so we drilled a few holes in the vinyl frame.

We put a dab of caulking on each screw hole to prevent water from getting under the fastener.


The screws were driven in with a cordless drill/driver.

We used a few shims under the sill to make it solid.


Now the glass doors are ready to be put in. The handing had to be switched on this door, so the rollers had to be removed from the bottom and installed on the other end. Only one little screw held them in place.

The rollers are adjustable with a Phillip's screwdriver, to make the door ride higher or lower.


These doors are aluminum, and there is a roller pocket milled into each corner. The top end has no rollers.

Door installation merely involves pushing the top end up inside the groove and resting the bottom on the track so the rollers ride on the rounded rail.


The roller height is adjusted with a Phillips screwdriver.

This is the latch mechanism.


The latch is inserted in the pocket and held in place with two flat-head screws.

The lock lever is slipped into it's hole.


The latch sticks out and grabs a metal plate attached to the door jamb.

The two-piece handle is held together by two long machine screws.


The handle is assembled on the door.

The striker mechanism is a sturdy metal plate with a plastic shim. Two long sheet metal screws anchor the striker to the wall framing.


There are two dimples in the plastic jamb where the striker plate goes.

The striker is installed with a cordless drill/driver.


The fixed panel is installed from the outside. Like the other panel, the top goes up inside the channel and then slides down a bit so the bottom rests on the sill.


Screws are installed on the inside to secure the fixed panel to the jamb.

The final product. All that remains is to add some trim around the door and caulk the gaps.



If you are going to undertake a project this big, make sure you completely understand all the steps involved. Consult your local building department and check if permits are required. We encourage our readers to look at other competent sources for second opinions, because the work shown here may not be applicable to your home.

Follow the Siding and Trim Repair around the sliding door.



Tools Used:

  • Caulk Gun
  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • 4' Level
  • Hammer, Tape Measure

Materials Used:

  • Vinyl Sliding Door
  • Deck Screws
  • Nails
  • Caulk

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Copyright © 2005

Written August 17, 1999
Revised January 6, 2005