Friday, 24 July 2015

Sliding Doors - an overview

Sliding doors have rapidly become one of the most popular choices over a traditional hung door when space maybe limited in the surrounding area near a door way. It’s not always ideal to have a door swinging onto wardrobes, a feature wall or covering an area where a piece of furniture could potentially sit. The most common use of these systems is for en-suites and dressing rooms, however because of the fire rated systems now available they are now being used in openings for all types of habitable rooms. A pair of double sliding doors can act as a perfect room divider especially within a contemporary designed property.

Types of Sliding Doors

Pocket Sliding systems are the most popular and have fire rated options available. These are also the best space saving option as they slide into a wall cavity or pocket.
Wall mounted sliding doors are most popular as glazed screens but can also be engineered doors. These systems are faced fixed to a finished wall with a pelmet covering the top hung track. They require a section of wall large enough to allow the door to slide over it when it is pushed into the open position, a much more practical option in larger rooms where wall space isn’t an issue. So to help, I've put together these great sliding door fitting top tips:


Top Tips on fitting Sliding Doors

  • Have a glazed panel in your sliding door to give it a more modern look and get that extra bit of natural light into a room if it’s looking a bit dark. Keep in mind to use opaque glass for en-suites or that could leave a few red faces.
  • Glazed sliding doors allow you to see the inside of the pocket when half open/closed. Keep this in mind when forming the pocket as you may need to clad the inside of it to avoid seeing the unsightly structural internals of these systems.
  • There are many different types of sliding systems available. I always recommend using a top hung system with a floor mounted guide stud that sits within the pocket. This eliminates the guide channel you can sometimes get across the floor with some systems which only ends up getting filled with dirt and starts jamming the door as it operates. Not to mention the nightmare of having to recess it into the floor when installing it.
  • If you have the option, have a solid (solid = non glazed) door design with a horizontal pattern/layout over a vertical pattern/layout. This is highly recommended if you cannot ascertain an accurate finished visual opening measurement at the time of ordering as it will give you the tolerance to make the visual opening any size you like when you come to install it and the door will still look centered when in the closed position.
  • Try to avoid panelled doors with protruding beading as sliding doors. The reason for this is that it becomes tricky to install and get fire ratings for (if required) due to the projection of the bead bringing the total door thickness up to anything from 45mm to 75mm. Sometimes even thicker with some of the bespoke beading available! This also makes it difficult to finish the frames as they can only finish up to the beading, leaving the frames sitting between 10mm – 20mm away from the door stile when in the closed position (depending on beading type). You can resolve this by using a recessed beading allowing you to have a panelled design but still retaining that all important door thickness.
  • Or though it may look a more clean finish it is not recommended to have a sliding door close all the way into a pocket so the door edge sits flush with the frame. The main reason for this is that the recessed handle in the face of the door which is required to close the door can easily catch little fingers when it is sliding open into the pocket.
  • It is quite popular to have plastered reveals surrounding the sliding door to avoid the use of frames and architraves if you don’t want the opening to look too busy. However this requires a very experienced plasterer to make this finish look as good as it sounds. This type of finish also makes it very difficult if you need to adjust the door in anyway in the future which brings me onto my next point.
  • Always use an ENGINEERED door with sliding systems as they must operate with the most stable product available to avoid any maintenance in the near future. A sliding door is something you want to fit first time and not have to touch again until it needs to be removed for renovation. Where a hanging door is easy to adjust if it doesn’t shut correctly by adjusting the undercut or hinges, a sliding door will more than likely require its surrounding frames and architraves removed or even potentially a hole cut in the wall to get into the pocket if it is not operating correctly. This isn’t easy to patch back in on a wallpapered wall.
  • You cannot accurately install the surrounding frames/reveals around a sliding door without the door leaf itself being installed and adjusted first. Keep this in mind when selecting the finishes as any painting plastering oiling etc will need to be done after the door is installed. However, as long as the door leaf is sufficiently protected or masked this shouldn’t cause much of an issue. 


So think about what is visible when the door is in the open position. If you are standing in the opening and look up you don’t want to see an old piece of sawn and treated 4” x 2” behind your track! Cladding around the track in mdf for painting or timber in a matching finish to your frame is a must have. This doesn’t want to be something you notice once everything is finished and installed!

Lastly, when forming the pocket for the sliding door, do not be tight with the amount of tolerance you allow inside the pocket. The more tolerance you allow either side of the door, the less chance it has in snagging the sides after some use. Most top hung sliding systems allow the door to move slightly from side to side as it follows the guide stud on the floor so it operates smother. I always suggest to leave anything up to 20mm either side of the door if you have the space to do so.

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