Replacing a sliding glass door can seem like a challenge, but you don’t need to call a professional just yet. In many cases, savvy homeowners can handle the task themselves, which can be a great money saver.
Whether your current sliding glass door is damaged or just doesn’t reflect your personal aesthetics, the first step in the larger replacement process is to get the existing glass doors out of the way. Here’s what you need to do if you want to tackle this project DIY-style.
If your current glass door is broken or cracked, make sure to put on gloves and safety glasses before beginning any part of the removal process. This ensures you are better protected from glass shards that may come loose as you manipulate the door.
Remove the Screen Door
If your door includes a screen, you’ll want to remove this first. Begin by opening the glass door completely. Next, partially open the screen door, so you have some room to work. Grip the side of the frame of the screen door that is now residing in the open section and gently lift the screen door up. Grab your flathead screwdriver and use it to lift the rollers located at the bottom of the screen door. This helps free it from the track.
Then, use the flathead screwdriver to lift the rollers on the other end of the screen door while maintaining upward pressure on the frame. This should completely free the screen door, allowing it to be pulled out. Your next step is to prepare the sliding portion of the door for removal by loosening the adjusting screws. Look at the lower part of the door sides for holes, possibly covered with caps. There will be a hole on both the right and left side edges.
If there is a cap over the hole, use a flathead screwdriver to pop out the caps carefully. Then, look into the hole to determine which size and shape of screwdriver is needed. Place the proper screwdriver in the hole and turn the screw counterclockwise as far as it will go and then repeat the process on the other door edge. This lowers the door inside the frame and compresses the rollers, giving you more space to later lift and remove the sliding portion of the glass door.
Remove the Sliding Portion of the Glass Door
Once the adjusting screws have been sufficiently loosened, you can attempt to remove the door. At this point, having a helper available can be beneficial, as glass doors are fairly heavy for their size. Open the door about half way and then grip the door on both sides by the frame. Lift the door straight up to free the rollers from the bottom track and then tip the lower portion of the glass door towards your feet.
After the door is out of the track, you can bring the bottom side of the door to the ground and tip the upper portion towards you slightly. Then, the glass door and be removed from the frame safely. If your sliding glass doors feature two sliders, simply repeat the process with the other door. Now that the sliding portion of the glass door is removed, you can address the fixed glass door panel. The first step is to remove the cap. Located in the upper portion of the door frame opening is a cap that aligns with the fixed door. Use a flathead screwdriver to pop the cap out on one end. Then, pull it down along its length to remove it from the slot.
Remove the Screws
Once the cap is removed, a screw or shim should now be exposed on the inside of the door frame near the fixed panel. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screw and remove it along with any shim material that may be attached.
Along the edge of the fixed door that is closest to the interior wall, there may be a few screws that attach the door to the frame. If so, use a screwdriver to remove the screws, turning them counterclockwise until they come out. After the screws have been removed, the fixed panel should now be able to move. Slide it towards the opposite side of the door opening to provide suitable access to both the right and left door edges. Often, you only need to push it about one foot before proceeding to the next step.
Since a fixed door may have been in place for some time, it may require firm pressure to get it to move. If the door doesn’t easily slide, check the tracks for debris that may impede the movement and then carefully apply more pressure. In some cases, getting assistance from a helper may be necessary to get the door to move. Just make sure to proceed with caution, as excessive force or jarring can cause the glass to break.
Remove the Fixed Door
Once you get the fixed door into position, you should be able to grip it on both the left and right sides of the frame. Move the door further into the opening that was originally occupied by the sliding glass door. This will free it from the lower block that supports the bottom of the fixed door.
After the door is most of the way on the opposite side, you should be able to lift the door slightly and direct the lower edge out towards the exterior of your home. Then, simply tip the door out until the upper section of the door is out of the track, and set the door aside. Now that the doors are out of the way, the sliding glass door frame should be fully exposed on the interior side. Look along the inside edges of the sides of the frame to locate screws that are holding it in place. Then, using a screwdriver to take out any screws that are securing the sides of the frame in the doorway. Next, check the upper section of the door frame for screws and remove them. In many cases, there won’t be any screws securing the bottom part of the door frame. However, take a look and if you find any, remove them as well.
Expose the Exterior Flange
Many sliding glass doors feature a nailing flange located that attaches to the exterior of your home. In many cases, these metal strips are located under your home’s exterior finish, such as siding or stucco. To gain access to the flange, you’ll need to cut away the portion of the siding or stucco covering the area. Measure around the visible door frame, marking multiple points 1 ½ inches from the frame. Then, draw a line connecting the points. Using a skill saw for siding or an angle grinder with a diamond blade for stucco, cut along the line. Make sure to adjust the saw depth so that it only cuts the siding and not the surface behind.
In many cases, you’ll encounter a step that impedes your ability to cut all of the way to the bottom. However, the door flange often doesn’t reach the ground, so just cut as far as you can go. Once the cuts are made, use a hammer and slim pry bar to remove the siding or stucco as required to expose the flange.
Now that the flange is exposed, you can begin disconnecting this portion of the frame. If the edge of the flange is easily accessible, you can use a pry bar to loosen the material, dislodging any nails along the way. If the nails are exposed, but the edge of the flange is not accessible, you’ll want to use a punch and hammer to make an indentation into the center of each nail head. Then, take a drill with a bit that’s slightly larger than the nail head, align the tip with the indentation, and drill through the flange. This ensures the nails are no longer holding the material in place, facilitating removal.
After the nails are managed, you can push or pull the door frame to remove it from the opening. If you encounter resistance, check to make sure all nails and screws are fully removed. In some cases, caulk along the edges can also make it harder to remove. If that is the case, use a hammer and pry bar to release the door frame from the caulk. Then, tip the door frame away from the exterior of your home. After following the steps above, your old sliding glass door should be fully removed. This allows you to go forward with either closing the opening or installing the door of your choice. Make sure to take care when moving the glass doors to limit the chance of breakage and subsequent injury during the disposal process.