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How To Lubricate Sliding Doors [And Should You?]

Squeaky sliding doors can be quite a nuisance. Lubricating them can help mitigate this issue, and it's fairly easy to do. But where do you lubricate your sliding doors? And what type of lubricant is best to use? We have researched sliding doors and common lubricants used for them, and we have the answers for you.

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Yes, lubricating sliding doors is a great way to prevent them from sticking or jamming. The tracks often become dry, resulting in the doors requiring more force to open and close. Lubricating the tracks can assist with this. Here are the steps to lubricate your sliding doors:

  1. Clean the tracks
  2. Inspect the rollers
  3. Apply the lubricant

Depending on the location of your sliding doors (home interior or exterior) and your regional climate, lubricating them may be essential to keeping them running smoothly. Continue reading to learn more about the steps to do this and the various types of lubrication products that you can use. Now let's get to it!

A huge contemporary living room with carpeted flooring, brown sofas, and a huge sliding door on the back, How To Lubricate Sliding Doors [And Should You?]

Steps to Lubricate Sliding Doors

Things you'll need:

  • Disposable toothbrush
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Lubricant
  • Cleaning cloths or paper towels

A worker applying lubricant on the sliding door mechanism

1. Clean the tracks

Use your paper towels or cleaning cloth to wipe down the tracks. You can also use a handheld vacuum or one with a hose attachment to remove any dirt, grime, insects, or anything else that may block the tracks.

Cleaning the tracks is an essential step before adding lubricant, as debris can cause the lubricant to clump up, impeding access to the tracks. For especially tight areas on the track, try using a toothpick or untangled wire clothes hanger to get between them.

Find this handheld vacuum on Amazon.

2. Inspect the rollers

Sometimes the issues with the doors might be with the rollers and not the tracks. After you clean the tracks, take a look at the door rollers to ensure that they are not worn, or damaged in any way. Also, look at the tracks to ensure that they are not bent.

If they are, use your pliers to manually straighten them out. If any of the roller wheels are broken, it's best to replace them as soon as possible to prevent potential issues with the door (especially if the rollers are located on the top tracks).

Find these pliers on Amazon.

3. Apply the lubricant

Next, take the lubricant and apply it directly to the top tracks. After doing so, slide the doors back and forth a few times to lubricate the rollers and ensure that the entire track is as well lubricated.

Next, spray the lubricant on the bottom door tracks. Wipe up any lubricant that falls outside the track to avoid drips and potential slipping hazards.

Is White Lithium Grease good for sliding glass doors?

A gorgeous and elegant living room with modern designed and a huge sliding door on the side leading to the garden area

Yes, white lithium grease can be used on sliding glass doors to prevent sticking and jamming. However, you should be cautious as not to use this solution on doors that have any kind of ball bearings. Lithium is a bit of a heavier lubricant and is great for repelling water.

However, it can deteriorate rubber, paint, and plastic, so it's best to place this solution directly on the tracks only. Lithium grease is best for sliding glass doors that have rollers. Another great benefit of lithium grease is that it has a very high temperature rating and will last a long time once applied.

This means it's perfect for outdoor use where the elements may dry out hardware and equipment. Common uses for lithium grease include sliding glass doors, closets, garage doors, exercise equipment, and various automotive part applications.

Find this white lithium grease on Amazon.

Is silicone lubricant good for sliding doors?

Yes. Silicone lubricant is ideal for sliding doors, as it is thin, slippery, and easy to apply. It's also ideal for metal, rubber, or plastic. This means that it'll work well in most sliding door applications.

You don't have to worry about the silicone solution deteriorating any non-metallic parts, and it's safe to use both indoors and outdoors. It's perfect for applications where you need a very light lubricant but also something that won't need to be applied very often.

Silicone spray should not be used on surfaces that you plan to paint, as it will prevent the paint from adhering to the surface. Not only can you use the solution on your sliding door tracks and rollers but you can also use it for drawers, kitchen cabinets, car door seals, and garage tracks and doors.

Find this silicone lubricant on Amazon.

What is the best lubricant for a sliding patio door?

Overall, the best lubricant to use for sliding patio door tracks and rollers is a silicone-based lubricant.

Silicone lubricants are thin yet slippery enough to keep the rollers rolling freely without them getting stuck. You don't have to worry about the silicone causing dust or grime to accumulate as lithium-based foams do.

If you find that your patio sliding doors are starting to stick, squeak, or seem more difficult to open and close, chances are let the tracks are dry and need a bit of lubrication.

Silicone works perfectly for this type of job. It's also ideal for extreme weather conditions and can usually be applied in weather conditions from 0 degrees to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The 3M brand makes one of the best silicone lubricants on the market. It's an anti-seize lubricant and is easy to apply in patio door tracks.

The lubricant also contains a blend of graphite, salt, copper, and aluminum, making it both moisture- and corrosion-resistant. You can use this lubricant on automotive parts, HVAC components, and ceiling fan motors.

Find this 3M silicone lubricant on Amazon.

Is WD-40 good for sliding doors?

Yes, WD-40 is commonly recommended for sliding doors. This easy-to-apply penetrating oil can help to lubricate and loosen corroded, rusted, and seized door tracks.

WD-40 has a pretty universal application and can be used on metal, rubber, and plastic, though caution should be used when applying it to wood surfaces, as it may cause deterioration.

Another benefit is that it can be used for indoor and outdoor applications, as it can withstand temperatures ranging from -100°F to 500°F.

Find WD-40 on Amazon.

How do you know when it's time to replace patio doors?

Interior of a modern mansion with stone walls, huge sliding front door and an entertainment area on the side

In some cases, simply adding lubricant to the track may not solve the issue with your patio doors. Sometimes some of the doors will simply need to be replaced completely. If you are unsure of whether or not to replace the doors, here are a few signs that'll let you know it may be time for an upgrade:

The doors are visibly damaged

Do the patio doors look old or worn? Do they have chipped paint, extensive scrapes, or look dingy overall? If so, it may be best to swap the old doors out for a new set. Sometimes cosmetic damage can be repaired by performing a refinishing or paint job.

But in some cases, it may not be worth it, especially if they have a metal frame instead of wood. Try talking to a contractor to determine whether the doors are worth restoring.

The doors create temperature issues

Some sliding doors can cause your home to become drafty due to gaps in the frame. In some scenarios, this issue can be fixed with an astragal.

But in others, the doors may be too warped or worn. In this case, replacing them may be the best option, especially if you notice that you are constantly replacing weather stripping around them.

There's significant water or moisture damage

Similar to the windows in your home, sliding patio doors can become susceptible to damage from rain and precipitation.

As a result, moisture may leak around the frame of the doors, causing it to warp, bubble, or drip down the walls of your home. It's often easier to replace the doors than to try to repair the damage itself.

Wrapping Things Up

A huge contemporary living room with carpeted flooring

If your sliding doors are located on the exterior of your home, chances are that the tracks will need lubrication at some point. This can also be the case for interior closet doors. So it's best to have a can of silicone lubricant on standby to prevent them from squeaking and jamming.

Before you go, be sure to check out these other posts:

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

9 Types Of Sliding Door Locks