Do Sliding Doors Need A Bottom Track? [Or Can You Suspend Them?]

As you remodel your home, installing updated sliding doors on all of the closets may be on your to-do list, but as you begin purchasing the kits to do so, you may notice that a bottom track is at times not included. So it's natural to wonder if this piece is necessary to install your doors. We've done the research to provide an answer.

A bottom track is not necessary to install interior sliding doors. However, it is essential for exterior sliding doors, and all kits for exterior sliding doors will include a bottom track. The upper track is all that is needed to bear the weight of the interior sliding doors so they can be suspended.

However, using a bottom track is helpful to keep the sliding doors secure and in place. This is why it's a vital part of exterior sliding doors, as it keeps them anchored and firm. 

Now you know that it's not essential to make an extra trip to the hardware store before installing your interior doors. Still, maybe you'd like more information to decide whether this is a piece of hardware you'd like to include, as well as more instruction about positioning the doors for the best look and functionality. Keep reading to learn more.

A sliding glass door detail and rail embed in floor, Do Sliding Doors Need A Bottom Track? (Or Can You Suspend Them)

Interior Sliding Doors

Sliding doors for closets, pantries and more is a popular choice for homeowners, as they conceal the clutter in these areas while also saving space. Installing these doors is easy, as long as you have a little know-how. 

Sliding Door Installation

Installation methods for sliding closet doors are typically uniform between products, but you should always follow the instruction manual for your door kit as closely as possible. Before involving the doors, you should focus on the upper track. The placement of this piece will determine the look of your doors. 

Some choose to install their doors in an offset fashion, meaning that the doors are placed in the center of the doorjamb so that it appears that the doors are set apart from the jamb. Others desire a more flush look, deciding the place the track as close as possible to the front of the door jamb. 

You first want to make sure that the upper track will fit inside the door jamb. If not, you will have to use a saw to cut the upper track to fit. Once this has been done, choose where you would like your track to go within the door jamb. Then you will have to drill pilot holes, after which you can install the upper track. 

If you have decided to include a bottom track, this is when it will be necessary to install it. Being sure that it is flush with the upper track, you will either be able to screw it directly into your hard flooring, or if you have concrete or carpet, you will have to first put a 1/8 inch wood piece in place to secure it.

Standing inside the closet, you must then lift the sliding doors and move the wheels on the top of the door into the upper track using a backward and forward motion.  

How Wide Should A Sliding Door Be?

White aluminum sliding door photographed from the patio with a gorgeous overlooking view of the living room and sea

The width of your sliding door depends on the size of the closet or room opening. Using a tape measure, measure one side of the opening to the other. In some cases, you may find that the width does not perfectly match any of the standard sliding door sizes. 

This is especially true of older homes, but have no fear. Just choose the closest standard door size. You can cut the upper track to width using a hack saw, and the sliding doors will only overlap slightly more than normal.

Take a look at this hacksaw on Amazon.

How Do I Keep A Sliding Door From Swinging?

Sliding doors can be kept from swinging by either installing bottom tracks, side stops, or guides. All of these can be screwed into the floor below the sliding door so that it will not prevent the door from sliding from side to side smoothly.

However, it will keep the door from moving forward or backward, from loosening or damaging the wall or door jamb. Some are universal, while others are meant only for barn doors. 

Take a look at these sliding door guides.

Barn Door Installation

An alternative to the traditional sliding door that has become very popular in recent years is the barn door. In the past, this could only be found on a barn's exterior, but homeowners have begun bringing them inside, placing them on closets, bathrooms, and bedrooms.

Once again, installations for these types of doors are usually uniform as they use the same type of mechanisms, but you should always refer to your instruction manual.

First, you will need to attach the provided backer board to the wall. This creates space between the door and the wall, which must be there for the door to move smoothly. Attach the backer board to studs within the wall using screws. Then, using the provided spaces, bolts, and washers, attach the metal track to the backer board.

It will then be time to put the hardware in place on the barn door. Where you should attach the rollers depends on the product. Refer to your instruction manual to determine whether you should install these to the top edge of the door or use straphangers. You must also put on the handle if your door includes one.

After this has been done, it will be time to put your door in place. You will lift the door and, tilting it backward, lay the wheels on the metal track before straightening the door. 

Check out this sliding barn door on Amazon.

These types of interior doors also do not require a bottom track, but your kit may come with one. It may be labeled as a "guidance track." While this is not necessary, you may choose to install it. This can be done after the door is in place and screwed into the flooring below.

How Do You Secure The Bottom Of A Sliding Barn Door?


The best way to keep the bottom of a sliding barn door from swinging is by using a door guide. These may be attached to the flooring and the being mounted to the wall.

These pieces of hardware not only act as a groove for the door to slide on. They also include a high lip or roller to keep the door from moving forwards or backward at all. 


Check out this barn door guide on Amazon.

Exterior Sliding Doors

In contrast to interior sliding doors, the exterior type must be installed with a bottom track for functionality. This not only ensures that the doors will open and close smoothly, but it will also ensure that the doors are secure against intruders. The quality exterior sliding door kit will always include a stable bottom track.   

How Secure Are Sliding Barn Doors? [From An Anti-Burglar Perspective]

A modern contemporary house with a barn door

Sliding barn doors are not typically used as entrance doors as they are not meant to protect against intruders. However, they can be used as an alternative to shutters, being placed in front of or around windows and exterior doors. If desired, they can be used on garages and porches, using latches or basic locks. 

Take a look at this barn door lock on Amazon.

In Conclusion

Sliding doors are found in most American homes, and as you move forward in a renovation or new build, you may have found that installing these doors is not as straightforward as you expected it to be. One of the most common questions is whether a bottom track is necessary for installing them, as many kits do not include this hardware.

We concluded that interior sliding doors do not need bottom tracks to be in use, but you may prefer a bottom track as it could help the doors move more smoothly as well as stay in place. We also found that bottom tracks are essential to the functionality of exterior sliding doors.

Want to learn more about using sliding doors in your home? Visit these related posts:

Do Sliding Doors Block Sound? [And How To Soundproof Them]

How To Clean Between Sliding Glass Doors

One comment

  1. Hi, I have closet doors with wood or MSF frames hung without a bottom track but with a guide. 3 were required across an opening so plastic guide in floor on either side of middle door.
    Unfortunately one bottom edge of the middle door has chipped. Is there something skinny (has to fit through the guide) and clear that can be put over the bottom corner edges to protect them.
    Scotch tape would look tacky
    Thank you!

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