How to Replace a Sliding Glass Door Latch

The latch lever for a sliding glass patio door.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $10-100
What You'll Need
Graphite pen
WD-40 or petroleum-based oil
Phillips screwdriver
Needle-nose pliers
New latch

Even though sliding glass doors often face a secured backyard, it is still important that your door's latch functions correctly. Debris can easily get lodged inside and jam the mechanisms, or the lock can break down with use over time. Fortunately, fixing one of these is quick and easy if you have a Philips screwdriver and the replacement door latch ready.

Step 1 - Check the Latch

Check to make sure whether the latch is already broken or if it can still be repaired. Normally, a glass sliding door will have a standard pin tumbler variety that can be found in any regular door. Unfortunately, with these types, it is fairly common for debris to get inside and jam the mechanism. Insert the graphite pen into the lock and squeeze some lubricating substance into the latch to dislodge anything inside.

Sometimes the sliding door may have a latch that works by sliding a small notch up and down. These types also experience the same symptoms as the standard glass door locks. Try applying lubricant, such as a petroleum-based oil or WD-40 in the area to see if that works.

Step 2 - Remove the Latch Body

If lubricating the latch doesn’t fix the problem, it’s time to replace it. Having the old one with you at the time of purchase will save you from accidentally buying an incompatible lock, so you'll want to remove this piece so you can take it with you for comparison.

First, remove the screws securing the door handle in place first with your Phillips screwdriver, and slide the outer latch lever out of place. Take your graphite pen and insert it into the lowermost screw hole quickly to prevent the latch from falling into the frame. Then, unscrew the mounting screws for the lock and use a pair of needle-nose pliers and pull the body out of the door completely. Visit your local hardware store with the broken hardware in hand and ask a store associate to assist you in finding a suitable replacement.

Step 3 - Check the Parts of the Latch

Open the packaging of the new hardware and familiarize yourself with all the parts and pieces. Different models and styles of latches vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from model to model, so it’s best to get to know what you purchased and to check that everything is included as it's supposed to be.

Step 4 - Install the Locking Cylinder

Fit the new locking cylinder into the appropriate space of the main door frame and tighten the mounting screws. Before you continue, test the new latch by turning the lever or using the key, depending on which variety you purchased. If it operates as it is supposed to, set it to the unlocked position and move on.

Step 5 - Reattach the Handle

Position your door handle over the screw holes and hand tighten both screws. Once it is fixed in place, continue with the screwdriver to make sure that the handle is secured completely.

Step 6 - Test Again

Close the sliding door and engage the door lock again. Check that the locking arm is moving and engaging correctly and that the sliding door is unable to be opened.