At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Sliding Glass Door?

Terry K. Albright
Terry K. Albright

A sliding glass door is, in some ways, your window to the world, a source of natural light, and a great way to access your porch, deck, back yard, or pool area. It is literally a glass door, half of which is fixed in place, while the other half slides open over the fixed portion. Some doors have screens so that you can open the door and let fresh air into your home when the weather is suitable while keeping out pesky insects.

There are many options to consider when choosing a sliding glass door. The desired size is something you need to carefully determine. Standard doors are 6 feet, 8 inches (2.06 m) tall, but can be as tall as 8 feet (2.44 m). Width is also your choice, as there are three- or four-door configurations available that can be as wide as 16 feet (4.88m). In general though, 8 feet (2.44m) wide doors are the norm. If you like the look of French doors, you can even purchase sliding glass doors designed to look like French doors.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Many sliding doors offer the attractive look of wood on the inside, and the durability of vinyl outside. You can also find doors made of fiberglass composites that resemble wood but that won’t crack or warp. A steel sliding glass door is available too which is usually a less expensive alternative. Some doors have vinyl or aluminum both inside and out, and are filled with a foam insulation core to keep out the cold.

Unless you are experienced in home repair and renovation, installation of a sliding glass door is usually best left to the experts. In brief, the steps involved in installation are prepping the existing wall, removing the old studs, building the opening, and installing the door. While it may sound simple, you'll have to deal with issues such as electricity that may be present in the wall, removing plaster, drywall and insulation, heavy lifting, and building headers. An incorrectly installed door is not only dangerous, but will be extremely inefficient with regard to energy.

Sliding glass doors open your home to beautiful outside views, allowing you to enjoy wildlife, landscaping and nature in general. Just imagine sitting inside in the winter, watching the snow falling, the deer browsing in your yard, and the birds flitting from tree to tree. If you love the outdoors, bring it inside with a sliding glass door, professionally installed and ready for you to enjoy.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Sliding glass doors can be a real money sucker if you don't have an energy efficient version. The glass itself is a terrible insulator, but new versions come with a plastic layer that help prevent heat loss.

Updating your sliding glass doors can help you save a lot of money on your energy bills. Also, having them professionally installed by a company used to making energy efficient doors and windows will make sure that your new sliding glass door has the correct seals.

If the seals are not secure on your sliding glass door than cold air will enter the home, and hot air will escape. This is a huge problem if you are trying to keep your home the right temperature.


If you are looking to increase the value of your home through renovations, adding a sliding glass door that looks out onto your backyard, or one that exits onto a deck, can be a great way to up the selling price of your home.

People buying homes often look for good natural light sources, and sliding glass doors are not only practical, but flood rooms with plenty of light.

You can buy versions that mix plain glass with etched glass, or even add some decorative elements yourself. This can be a fun project, and also one that changes the look and feel of the room.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Man with a drill
      Man with a drill