What Are Sliding Doors?

Sliding doors consist of multiple panels that operate as one unit. The doors open and close along a fixed upper and/or lower track or glide. For most sliding door configurations, one door remains stationary while the other is movable.

The sliding door used today is a descendant of the sliding panels common in Japanese architecture, the Shoji and Fusuma. The sliding door has been popular in European and North American architecture since the 1900s.

Sliding Doors: Types and Styles to Consider for Your Home

There are interior sliding doors used for closets, pantries, and as room dividers. There are also exterior sliding doors. Sliding glass doors are common for use as patio doors. They are an ideal way to provide closure without inhibiting the flow of light into the interior spaces.


  • Connection – Large sliding doors create wonderful linkages between indoor and outdoor spaces because of the large openings they add.
  • Traffic Flow – Sliding doors create a large opening which lends to great traffic flow for entertainment.
  • Light – Sliding glass doors are a large expanse of glass that brings light into interior spaces or between rooms.
  • View – Sliding glass doors have small frames and large glass panes through which you can view your outdoor spaces.
  • Space Savings – Sliding doors, unlike hinged doors, do not take up space in the room when you open them.


  • Cost – Sliding doors are sometimes more expensive than traditional doors to buy and install. Also, the maintenance and hardware of sliding doors can be more expensive.
  • Maintenance – Sliding doors can be more difficult to maintain than traditional doors because of the fingerprints on large glass panes. Also, dirt can build up in the track that you need to keep clear to avoid future problems.
  • Privacy – The large expanse of glass in sliding glass doors provides a view indoors that creates less privacy.

Type of Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are any doors that operate on a track or glider. There are several kinds of types and styles.

  1. Bypass Doors – Bypass doors are those that have panels that do not remain fixed. Instead, the panels pass across one another when opening and closing.
  2. Barn Doors – Barn doors are those that open and close on a slider that is located above the door frame.
  3. Sliding Glass DoorsGlass sliding doors are common for both interior and exterior spaces. Homeowners and designers use them as patio doors and as room separators.
  4. Sliding Bi-fold Doors – Sliding bi-fold doors are double doors that are connected by a vertical hinge. These doors open on an upper and/or lower track.
  5. Pocket DoorsPocket doors are sliding doors that open into a recess in the wall. This way, pocket doors, when open, disappear to create a seamless opening.
  6. Sliding Accordion Doors – Sliding accordion doors are similar to sliding bi-fold doors except that there are more panels than just two that are joined together.
  7. Sliding Shower Doors – Sliding shower doors are made of glass panels that operate with a glide or track closure.

Sliding Door Designs

Sliding doors are used in homes in both standard and high-end design. We have rounded up some fabulous pictures of the way that homeowners have used sliding doors in their space.

Modern Barn Slide Doors

Modern Barn Slide Doors

Sliding barn doors are a popular trend because of the rustic and organic style and the ease of closure. Bartels Doors & Windows creates these gorgeous modern barn doors that have a minimalist and streamlined style. These are ideal for incorporating the ease of the barn door closure with a wider variety of home styles.

Closet Bypass Sliding Doors
Sliding Doors: Types and Styles to Consider for Your Home

Because of the small spaces involved, most closets use some kind of sliding door. These bypass doors all move so that you can access the closet from both sides. This three panel sliding bypass door from Homestead Doors allows you to cover a larger space but open it with ease. The warm toned wood and opaque glass panels work well for rustic and contemporary design.

Interior Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding Doors: Types and Styles to Consider for Your Home

Most homeowners use sliding glass doors as patio doors, but they make amazing interior doors too. Dulles Glass and Mirror created these gorgeous interior sliding glass doors to separate the living and dining room. They used a smoke glass to provide some privacy when the doors are closed.

Pocket Sliding Doors

Pocket Sliding Doors

Pocket doors are useful in small areas like bathrooms because they do not take up extra room when closed and disappear when opened. Pocket doors also have a more custom look than standard doors.

Bifold Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors: Types and Styles to Consider for Your Home

Bifold sliding doors are used most as closet and pantry doors in homes. These glass bifold sliding doors provide a good way to create distinction between rooms but still allow a visual connection between the spaces.

Sliding Accordion Doors

Sliding Accordion Doors

Sliding accordion doors, also called movable walls, create large openings between rooms that you can open or close as you need. d’Arcy & Associates Architecture created this kitchen and living room area. They connected it to the outdoor patio with a sliding accordion door to create a larger entertainment area.

Exterior Sliding Glass Doors

Exterior Sliding Glass Doors

LaCantina sliding doors are some of the most well known in the industry. The sliding glass doors feature a large expanse of glass to maximize the view and connection to the outdoors. They also feature a wood clad interior frame to give the room a pop of warm color and texture.

Sliding Shower Door

Sliding Shower Door

Sliding shower doors are common in bathroom design to save space and create a more minimal design. For this small bathroom, the designer used black matte hardware on the glass sliding door to update the look of the bathroom.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Do sliding doors let in more moisture than traditional hinged doors?

Sliding doors do not have a threshold like hinged doors and can allow more moisture inside. The main reason for this is if the lower tracks have built up debris that can prevent a tight seal between the track and the door. If moisture is coming inside, clean the track of the door first. If that doesn’t work, you may need to adjust the roller on the door to make it fit tighter. You can also replace the track if these solutions do not work. Extra weather stripping can also help this issue.

Are sliding doors out of date?

No, sliding doors are not out of date. While there are some sliding doors that are old and dated, the style is being reinvented and modernized by manufacturers. Home designers are using sliding doors in home design in ways that look gorgeous.

How can I put curtains on sliding doors?

It is difficult to put curtains on sliding glass doors themselves. One solution to create more privacy is hanging curtains or blinds above the doors.

Which is the best kind of sliding door?

Choosing the best sliding door depends on your needs in a particular space. Standard sliding glass doors are useful as connections with patio spaces and are the most cost-effective sliding door options for this space. If you have the budget, accordion-style sliding doors create larger openings that are useful if you entertain on a large space. Pocket sliding doors are one of the best options for space savings and style in that they do not take up space in the room and create a seamless opening when they slide into the wall.

Can I install my own sliding door?

Installing sliding doors is difficult for the beginner. Hanging and balancing the door is more complicated than for standard hinged doors. But, installing a sliding door on your own is possible for care, patience, and understanding.