Can Sliding Doors Be Reversed?

There's nothing quite as nice as the view from beyond your sliding doors. These doors aren't there just to give you a peek into the great outdoors, though. Sliding doors have to suit your style and physical needs if they're going to be useful. With that in mind, many homeowners strive to reverse the handing of their sliding doors. But can sliding doors be safely reversed? We're here to bring you the answer.

Some sliding doors are reversible while others are not. You'll want to verify with a door's manufacturer that it can be reversed before trying to swap the handing or the position of the door's handle on your own. If you try to fit a single-sided door into its opposite configuration, you risk damaging that door's seal.

Most manufacturers advertise whether or not their sliding doors can be safely reversed. Even so, there are some tips and tricks that can make the process simpler. Let's break down the ins and outs of sliding door reversal so that your next home DIY project can be all the more successful.

White painted exterior walls of a house with a sliding front door leading to the kitchen, Can Sliding Doors Be Reversed?

Can Sliding Doors Be Reversed?

There are some sliding doors that can be reversed. That said, not all sliding doors are meant to work both ways. If you're not sure whether or not it is safe to reverse your existing sliding door, reach out to the door's manufacturer. The manufacturer will inform you as to whether or not the door can be safely reversed and through what means you can better fit it to your needs.

Can Sliding Doors Slide Both Ways?

Incredibly comfortable bedroom with modern furnitures, carpeted flooring and a huge window on the side with sliding door

Not all sliding doors slide both ways. Most sliding door manufacturers opt to stabilize a single side of their doors, ensuring that they can hold up against long-term use and environmental strain. If you try to swap a single-sided door so that it handles a different way, you risk compromising the structural integrity of both the door and its frame or seal.

That said, you do have the option to swap over your sliding door's framing. While this can take some effort, changing a sliding door's slider panels and framing can help you rehandle the door without damaging your existing infrastructure.

If you want to reverse your sliding door's track and framing, you'll need to:

Assess the State of Your Door

Before you start deconstructing your sliding doors, consider how new they are. If you live in a newly-constructed home, your doors may be simple to reverse. Comparatively, older sliding doors tend to require more comprehensive disassembly. When you know what kind of work you have ahead of you, you can gather the tools you need ahead of time.

With that in mind, you can reverse a newer sliding door by simply reversing the door's existing installation instructions. When installing a door for the first time, consider what kind of handedness you want to work with and fit your tracks and frames accordingly.

If you're looking to remove an existing door and refit it, you'll need to go through the deconstruction process before refitting the door to your existing space.

Switch Over Your Door's Panels

If you have an older door or need to safely deconstruct a newer model, you'll want to start the process with the door's panels. You can use a screwdriver or similar tool to remove the panels from their tracks.

Once you've reversed the door, placing the stabilized door on the side that you want to remain in place, you can fit the panel into the track closest to the floor. Make sure any additional accessories, like bumpers, are in place.

From this point, you'll need to contend with your moving door's rollers. Remove these elements from your moving door with a screw gun or similar tool and place them to one side. You can then replace the rollers on the openings present on the other side of the moving door, provided that the manufacturer included these openings during their initial construction.

Last but not least, you can remove the handle from your door by unscrewing it from the back. Flip your sliding door's lock with the help of the aforementioned screw gun. Once the lock is back in place, you can use the previously-employed handle holes to fit your handle on the side that you want ready access to.

At the end of this process, you'll have not only reversed the slide of your door but its handing, or the hand that said door requires you to use to open it. Doing so can make your door easier to use or better suited to the overall look of your home.

Don't Overlook Essential Repairs

The process of reversing your sliding doors gets you up close and personal with the features that keep your doors in good condition. While you're going through this process, make sure to examine the door's pieces as you remove and reinstall them. If it looks like your door has taken damage over the years or during the manufacturing process, you'll need to have it repaired.

You can work with the representatives at your local hardware store or a professional with a manufacturer's helpline to determine what parts might help you restore your doors to working order.

If you try to move forward with a door reversal after spotting damage, be aware of the potential dangers. The process of reversing a sliding door can compromise the structural integrity of your framework on its own. The longer you leave known damage unattended, the worse that damage is likely to get overtime.

What Does a Reversible Sliding Patio Door Mean?

Reversible sliding doors let you change their handling with little to no DIY work. There are several different manufacturers who sell these sorts of doors, including American Craftsman and Jeld-wen. You can purchase these doors from your local hardware store and determine your preferred configuration prior to their installation.

For long-term stability, follow the installation instructions included along with your purchase. If you have any difficulties with the installation process, you can reach out to the appropriate manufacturer's helpline for guidance.

How Do You Determine Whether a Door Slides Right or Left?

Clear glass sliding doors inside an empty living room

If you want to determine which way a sliding door naturally moves, look at both the handle and the tracks. The door without the handle and tracks is the one that will remain stationary. While you can reverse the door and subsequently reverse its movement, an initial inspection will let you know whether or not any DIY work on your part is needed.

For more information on sliding door direction, check out our post: Which Way Should A Sliding Door Open?

How to Switch a Sliding Door From Right-Opening to Left-Opening

You may want to switch the handling of your sliding doors for a variety of reasons. Whether you tend to rely on your off-hand or want to reconfigure your home, this process helps you get a new perspective on your entryways.

There are two ways you can switch a sliding door from a right-opening to a left-opening. These methods have a lot of crossover but differ when it comes to the nature of your installation.

When Installing a New Door

A worker fixing the sliding door

If you want to change the way a new, uninstalled door slides, then you can:

  1. Remove the door from its packaging.
  2. Look over the standard installation instructions.
  3. Reverse the instructions included with your door.
  4. If necessary, use a screw gun to remove your door's handle.
  5. Use the same screw gun to disconnect your lock.
  6. Flip your lock and screw it in place with its previously-removed screws.
  7. Using the pre-drilled holes, fit your door handle to the side of the door you to which you want ready access.
  8. Test the handle to ensure that it is secure.
  9. Install your door through traditional - albeit reversed - means.

When Refitting an Older Door

If you want to reconfigure an older door and make it slide in a new direction, you can:

  1. Remove both the stationary and the sliding from its existing framework, taking care to retain the frame's overall structural integrity.
  2. Pop the panels and track out of the door's existing framework.
  3. Place the track on the side of the frame that you want to open and shut.
  4. Use a hammer or similar tool to fit your track and panels into their new positions.
  5. As needed, remove your door's rollers and reverse them for the door's ease of movement.
  6. Unscrew your door's lock and reverse it using a screw gun or similar tool.
  7. As needed, reverse your door's handle for ease of use.
  8. Fit your reversed door back into its existing framework, ensuring that all gaps are filled or otherwise repaired.

How Do You Reverse a Reliabilt Sliding Door?

You can purchase reversible and non-reversible Reliabilt doors through your local Lowe's. These doors can be reversed using the same methods employed to reconfigure standard sliding doors both prior to and after their installation.

Safely Re-Hand Your Sliding Doors

Not all sliding doors are meant to be reversed. Those that are tend to be advertised as such. If you didn't take note of the packaging when you first bought your doors, though, or you moved into a home with sliding doors already installed, it can be difficult to determine whether or not you can safely fiddle with your doors' configuration. 

When in doubt, rely on context clues to determine what brand of sliding door you have. Most manufacturers will let you know whether or not the doors in question can be reversed with a quick Google search. Once you know whether or not it's safe to move forward, you can refit your door to better suit your handing.

If you enjoyed the content of this post, we think you'll like this one: 8 Types of Patio Doors

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