Installing Sliding Closet Door Guides

A closet with sliding doors.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-70
What You'll Need
Screwdrivers or electric drill with screwdriver bits
Tape measure
What You'll Need
Screwdrivers or electric drill with screwdriver bits
Tape measure

When installing a new sliding closet door or repairing a damaged one, you may have to add or change the door guides that keep the door in place. Follow these steps for a quick and easy installation project.

Step 1 - Choose Guide Materials

There are several different materials that are used to manufacture sliding door guides. There are also a number of different styles you can use. Choose the type that works best for your particular situation and the flooring material with which you are working.

The most typical door guides are two small pieces of material fashioned in an “L” shape. They are attached to the floor to keep the sliding closet door in line and prevent it from swinging in and out. This also prevents the door from bending or damaging the top runners.

The “L” shaped door guides come in plastic, wood or metal. They work well for doors that don’t get too much traffic and doors that need a smooth opening with no floor rail.

Another type of guide is a specialty door guide that attaches to a pin you install in the floor. These guides can be easier to install.
A third type of sliding door guides is the track or guide strip that installs under the door and directs a roller along a designated path.

Step 2 - Measure the Door

Before installing the guides, hang a plumb line from the top of the door to be sure you are installing the guides in the correct place. If you try to eyeball the guide placement, you can end up with doors that bow in or out and place pressure on the guides and rollers on the top tracks.

On bypass sliding doors, the guides are often installed in the center to keep the doors properly distanced from each other. Wherever you install the sliding door guides, be sure that at no time does the door slide out of range of the guides. If it does, the purpose of the guides is defeated entirely.

Step 3 - Measure the Track

If you have chosen to use a track guide, then you need to measure the opening of the door. Measure from one trim piece to the other, subtracting ¼-inch on each side (½-inch altogether) for clearance at the edges.

If you are installing a track where you did not have one before, you will need to lift the doors off of the top track in order to install the door guide track at the bottom.

Measure the opening of the door carefully so that you can leave the proper amount of clearance. If you are installing a new track, you will need to install a guide wheel on the bottom of the door.

Advantages of a track guide are that the door is kept on track all the way open and shut, rather than at a certain point along the door.
Disadvantages of the track guides are that they fill up with dust, lint, and other waste particles, they are hard to clean, and they will often protrude from the floor, causing stubbed toes and other irritations. They also tend to get bent.

Step 4 - Fasten Down Small Guides

If you are using individual wood, plastic or metal “L” guides, then attach them on the floor where you have marked the place. Use ½-inch wood screws for wooden floors, slightly longer for carpeted floors. If you are installing in concrete, you will need to drill a guide hole first with a concrete bit, then drill the guide into place.

Guides are always installed in pairs, one on each side of a single door. If you have dual bypass doors, you will need two sets of guides, one for each door.

For the specialty guides, install the pins at the location you marked with the plumb line, then install the guides on the pins. This can be a quicker process than screwing down the guides, and it is quicker than installing track guides.

Step 5 - Test the Door Function

Try the doors several times to be sure of smooth operation, and adjust the guides if necessary.