Sliding closet doors may test your patience

Bent track, worn-out rollers are often the culprits

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 18, 2012

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Bent track, worn-out rollers are often the culprits

Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News®

Q: I have a hall closet with two wooden doors that slide on a track. They are very old and have been painted many times. One of the doors got stuck in the track, and I couldn't get it to move smoothly. So I yanked the door out, and now I can't get it back on the track at all.

Now I have a closet with one door and one open space, and the second door propped against a wall. There is a little roller on the top of the door that must have something to do with getting it back on track. Do you guys have any thoughts on this?

A: We agree that old bypass closet doors can be maddening. Occasionally we've had a door come off the overhead track and experienced a great deal of frustration getting the door back up and rolling smoothly.

We doubt that multiple coats of paint caused the door to get stuck. But a drop or two on the track may have. It's more likely that the top track is bent or that one or both rollers have worn out. Manhandling the door out of the opening may have caused more damage.

You'll have to remove the other door to fix the problem. Bypass doors have a metal track screwed inside the top of the door frame. The track has two channels that guide rollers that are attached to the top of each door that allow the doors to slide. There are two rollers for each door, and they're usually made of a hard plastic called neoprene. Over time, the rollers wear down, get out of round and can be prone to come out of the channels.

Some of these doors have dividers attached to the floor to keep them from swinging in and out. Others have metal channels.

Installing the doors requires lifting the door so the rollers sit in the grooved track on top and rest in the guides on the floor. This usually requires tilting the door to get the rollers into the upper channels, then shifting them to guide the bottom of the doors into the floor guides.

To fix your doors, we suggest you replace the rollers on the doors and carefully inspect the upper channels and lower glides to ensure they're not bent. If the tracks are bent, get a new hardware kit that includes tracks and rollers, and install it.

Here's how:

1. One door's already out; now remove the other. Lift the door up away from the channel opening. This will release the rollers from the channel and allow you to remove the door.

2. Remove the rollers from both doors. Take them to your local hardware store and get replacement rollers. Change out all four rollers. Then install the inner door first by tilting it back to engage the track and slide it into place. Repeat with the outer door.

3. Be patient. It's been our experience that bypass doors -- especially the older ones -- are the most difficult to work with. That's why when remodeling we have tended to choose bifold doors or double doors that open outward. Not only are these systems better engineered, but they allow access to the entire closet, not just half, as in the case of bypass doors.

If, after changing the rollers, you still have problems, here are a couple of things you can check:

  • Sliding doors won't work properly if they are rubbing on carpet, the floor or on the floor guide. Raising the door by adjusting the rollers can solve the problem. But if you have raised the door to its highest position, you may have to cut a small amount of wood off the bottom of the door to provide proper clearance.
  • Sometimes paint drips into the track where the rollers run, causing the rollers to stick or jump off the track. Inspect the track carefully and clean any paint residue.
                                     
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