How to Install Sliding Closet Doors

Installing sliding closet doors can help maximize storage space and create a stylish, modern look in your bedroom or closet. With some basic tools and good planning, DIY installation is achievable for many homeowners. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to install sliding closet doors.

Choosing the Right Sliding Closet Doors

When selecting sliding closet doors, consider the following:

Door Type

The main types are:

  • Bypass – Two doors that slide past each other, allowing full access to the closet. Good for small spaces.
  • Biparting – Two doors that meet in the middle. Provide access from both sides. Better for wider closets.
  • Pocket – Doors slide into wall cavities or “pockets”. Great for a clean, contemporary look.

Door Material

Common materials include:

  • Wood – Classic material with natural beauty. Requires more maintenance than other options.
  • Vinyl – Durable and moisture-resistant. Easy to clean and maintain. Can mimic wood grain.
  • Glass – Stylish option that allows light into the closet. Frosted glass provides privacy.
  • Mirrored – Creates an illusion of more space. Also comes in frosted versions.
  • Composite – Blend of materials like wood, vinyl and laminate. Combines durability and aesthetics.


Look for quality hardware and smooth rolling mechanisms. Top-mounted hardware occupies ceiling space, while bottom-mounted takes up floor space.


Measure the closet opening carefully. Leave about 1/2 – 1 inch gap on all sides for the doors to slide smoothly. Consider the layout and any obstructions.

Gather the Necessary Materials

You will need:

  • Sliding doors in the desired size
  • Side track rails and hangers to mount the doors
  • Top track rail if needed
  • Mounting screws
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Fasteners like nails or screws
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper

Prepare the Opening

Follow these steps to prepare the closet opening:

  1. Remove existing doors and tracks if present.
  2. Clean the opening thoroughly and remove any debris.
  3. Fill any holes or imperfections with wood filler and let dry completely.
  4. Sand the area smooth for an even surface.
  5. Make sure the floor is level. Shim any uneven areas if needed.
  6. Check that opening dimensions match those of the sliding doors.
  7. Mark plumb vertical lines where track rails will be installed.

Install the Track Rails

The track rails provide the foundation for hanging the sliding doors.

  1. Measure and mark rail locations. Usually, side rails attach at the top and bottom of the sides. The top rail attaches to the header.
  2. Cut rails to the correct length if needed. Rails should be slightly shorter than opening’s width and height.
  3. Pre-drill holes in the rails to avoid splitting. Position holes about 12-16 inches apart.
  4. Fasten the side rails first using appropriate screws and shims to level. Ensure rails are plumb.
  5. Install the top rail last. Shim and screw into place. Verify it’s perfectly level.

Hang the Doors

With rails installed, now hang the doors:

  1. Attach door hangers provided in the hardware kit to the top and bottom of each door. Position according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Lift doors and carefully set door hangers onto the rails. Slide to check for smooth, even movement.
  3. Use screw adjusters on the hangers to level doors if needed. Doors should be plumb and not rub against the framing.
  4. Install door stops at ends of side rails to prevent doors sliding off. Position where doors overlap when closed.
  5. For doors that meet in the middle, install a soft door bumper where they meet to cushion impact.

Install Remaining Hardware

Finish the installation with any remaining hardware:

  • Handle – Attach a handle vertically on each door for easy grip. Ensure handles are aligned.
  • Catch – Install a catch or latch at the top to hold the doors closed. Position where doors overlap.
  • Floor guide – For bottom-mounted doors, install a floor guide centered under the overlap point.
  • Soft close – Hardware that dampens movement as doors close. Reduces wear and noise.

Seal and Finish the Doors

Apply final touches for a flawless finish:

  • Seal any cracks and gaps using clear silicone caulk. Wipe away excess.
  • For wood doors, apply desired stain, paint or protective sealer to match the room.
  • Install decorative covers on track rails to give a clean, finished look.
  • Slide doors open and closed to ensure proper operation. Make any final adjustments.
  • Add closet organization systems like shelves and rods to maximize space.

With proper care and maintenance, your sliding closet doors should operate smoothly for many years. Enjoy the stylish new look and handy access!

Preparing the Closet Opening

Proper preparation of the closet opening is crucial for installing sliding doors properly. Here are some tips:

Remove Existing Doors and Tracks

If replacing old sliding or hinged doors, take down completely. This includes old rails and hardware to clear the opening.

Clean Away Debris

Vacuum and wipe down the entire opening to clear dust, debris and loose impediments. This creates a clean surface for installation.

Fill Imperfections

Examine for damage or irregular areas, especially on framing. Fill nail holes, cracks or flaws with wood filler and let dry thoroughly.

Sand Until Smooth

Once filler has dried, sand affected areas to a smooth finish. Feather out edges for an even surface.

Check Floor Level

Use a level to verify the floor is perfectly horizontal. Shim any low spots as needed so doors glide easily.

Confirm Opening Size

Carefully measure width and height of the opening. Double check it matches the sliding doors’ dimensions.

Mark Plumb Lines

Lightly mark vertical plumb lines where the track rails will attach. This provides a reference when mounting.

Proper prep avoids issues down the road. Take time to ensure the opening is pristine before installation.

Installing Track Rails

The track rails provide the sliding mechanism for the doors. Follow these tips for smooth installation:

Measure and Mark Rail Spots

Using a measuring tape and your plumb lines, mark where the top and side rails will attach. Most kits include top and bottom side rails.

Cut Rails If Required

Rails usually come in standard lengths. Measure and cut to size if rails are too long for your opening using a hacksaw or miter saw.

Pre-Drill Holes

Drill pilot holes in the rails prior to mounting. This prevents splitting. Space holes 12-16 inches apart.

Mount Side Rails First

Attach the side rails vertically first. Use shims to ensure rails are perfectly plumb against the marks.

Install Top Rail

Mount the top rail last. Verify it’s completely level before securing. Check for smooth operation with rails installed.

Use Appropriate Fasteners

For stud walls, use screws. For drywall, use hollow wall anchors. Ensure rails are firmly secured.

Solid rails ensure the doors hang and slide properly. Take the time to mount the rails correctly.

Hanging the Sliding Doors

With rails installed, now the doors can be hung:

Attach Hangers

First, bolt the provided hangers at the top and bottom of each door according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lift onto Rails

Carefully lift up each door and set the hangers onto the corresponding rails. Slide back and forth to test.

Adjust if Needed

Use screw adjusters on hangers to level doors if they are uneven. Doors should be plumb and not catch.

Install Door Stops

Place door stops where doors overlap when closed. This prevents them oversliding and coming off rails.

Add Door Bumper

For doors that meet in the middle, install a cushioning bumper where they make contact when closing.

Ensure Smooth Movement

Slide doors open and closed to confirm they move freely along the track rails. Make any adjustments.

With doors hanging, the hardest work is done! Now just add final touches.

Finishing Touches

Apply finishing touches for complete installation:

Install Door Handle

Attach door handle vertically to provide easy grip for opening and closing. Align on both doors.

Add Door Catch

Mount catch or latch at top where doors overlap to hold them closed. Magnets are another option.

Install Floor Guide

For bottom-mounted hardware, attach floor guide centered where doors meet. Keeps them moving smoothly.

Consider Soft Close

Hardware that eases the final few inches when closing doors. Reduces wear and noise.

Seal Gaps

Apply clear silicone caulk and smooth with wet finger to seal any cracks or gaps. Let dry completely.

Apply Finish Coating

For wood doors, consider staining, painting or protective sealer to match décor.

Add Decorative Covers

Plastic covers give rails a sleek, finished look. Just snap onto top and side rails.

Test Operation

Slide doors fully open and closed. Make any final adjustments for optimal performance.

Add Closet Storage

Take full advantage of space with closet rods, shelves and organizational systems.

With these final touches, the sliding door installation is complete! Enjoy your stylish new closet access.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

These additional pointers will ensure success:

  • Choose quality rollers and hardware for smooth sliding action. Avoid cheap plastic parts.
  • Glass doors are heavier, so use heavy-duty header rails and multiple brackets for top track.
  • For drywall openings, use hollow wall anchors designed for closets so rails are securely mounted.
  • Keep doors slightly off floor by adjusting bottom hangers. Allows doors to bypass carpet or swells in flooring.
  • If doors rub, adjust hangers gradually. Over-adjusting can make problem worse.
  • Lubricate rollers and track periodically with silicone spray. Keeps movement quiet and effortless.
  • Level the header rail perfectly or doors can develop issues over time if sagging at one end.
  • Avoid overtightening screws into framing. Can dimple and warp rails.
  • Ensure doors fully overlap and latch when closed to minimize rattling.

With the right materials and careful installation, your sliding closet doors will operate smoothly for many years of stylish performance. Enjoy the convenience!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about installing sliding closet doors:

How much floor space do sliding doors require?

Sliding doors only require floor space equal to the width of one door panel when open. This allows them to work well in tight closet spaces.

Do doors have to be cut to size?

Prefab doors come in standard widths like 24”, 30”, and 36”. Order the closest size to your measured opening, then trim doors if they require fine tuning.

What kind of drill bits are needed?

Have a variety of drill bits on hand. Pilot holes will require smaller drill bits like 1/8-inch. Installation into framing may need larger sizes like 1/4-inch.

What size screws should be used?

For mounting into wood studs, 2-3 inch wood screws work for most interior doors. For metal studs, use self-tapping metal screws.

How are rails mounted on drywall?

On drywall, use specialized hollow wall anchors designed for vertical loads. This provides solid anchoring in the wall cavity.

How do I finish custom sized doors?

For raw wood doors cut to size, apply desired stain for coloring first. Then finish with protective sealer or polyurethane coats for smooth gliding.

What if my doors are crooked?

Carefully adjust the screw adjusters on each door hanger incrementally until door is plumb and level. Don’t over-adjust at once.

How do I reduce door rattle?

Ensure doors have full overlap when closed. Adjust stops if needed. Add bumpers or catches to eliminate play and noise.

Why do my doors keep coming off track?

This is often due to sagging rails or obstructions on the track. Refasten rails securely and clean track for smooth travel.

Proper installation will lead to years of excellent service from your sliding closet doors. Follow the techniques described here closely for success.


Installing your own sliding closet doors allows you to create custom access and storage solutions. With quality materials and proper techniques, you can achieve pro-looking results. Measure twice, level rails precisely, and take the time to hang doors carefully. Add final touches like trim, hardware, and storage accessories for the complete package. With this comprehensive guide, you now have the knowledge to install sliding doors like an expert. Once finished, you’ll be able to enjoy years of enhanced style and functionality in your closet space.

How to Install Sliding Closet Doors