Do Sliding Doors Need Wheels?

Are you restoring a sliding door and want to know if it needs wheels to work properly? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.

Yes, sliding doors need wheels. A roller is another name for the wheel on sliding doors.

Let’s talk more about sliding doors and which type of sliding door will give you fewer problems in the long term in the succeeding sections. Learn what you need to do when your sliding door becomes difficult to open or close below.

Read on!

Modern interior in loft style barn sliding wooden door in loft room, Do Sliding Doors Need Wheels?

The History Of Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are common in modern society.

Wardrobes and vans use a special type of sliding door. Showers usually use sliding doors to save space inside the bathroom or to prevent damage to other fixtures inside the bathroom. Elevators and underground trains use no other type of door.

Although the credit for inventing the sliding door technology does not belong to the Romans, they’ve been using sliding doors as early as the first century AD. Tracks for sliding doors are present in archaeological finds in Pompeii, Italy.

The technological advancement of construction materials at the start of the 20th century brought significant developments to the sliding doors that we know today, like the sliding glass door and the patio door.

Types Of Sliding Doors

Spacious interior of designer master bedroom in luxury contemporary Australian home

Top-Hung Sliding Doors

wood barn door rollers sliding door in house

As its name suggests, this type of sliding door has two trolley hangers at the end of two metal supports that hold the door in place. The wheels on the hangers carry all the weight of the door and make it easy to slide the door.

There is no track at the bottom of the door. Instead, there is a stabilizer that prevents the door from moving sideways. The bottom stabilizer is usually below the floor level.

Its system of support makes it effortless to open and close.

Both ends of the track normally have rubber stoppers to prevent the door from sliding beyond its track.

One of the advantages of this type is that you can easily hide the hardware of a top-hung sliding door. Even the bottom stabilizer is unnoticeable at below floor level.

Another advantage of a top-hung sliding door is security. The same hangers that support the door keep it in place vertically. It is impossible to lift a top-hung sliding door panel off its tracks to forcibly open it.

Top-hung sliding doors have an aesthetic advantage over bottom-rolling sliding doors.

You can install top-hung sliding doors on curved walls. The hangers of top-hung sliding doors can follow a curved track that hangs from a curved wall.

It is easier to clean a top-hung sliding door because the sliding mechanism is hidden, protecting it from the majority of dirt. Moreover, any dirt that gets into the top rollers will eventually fall to the floor. It is impossible to accumulate dirt on the rollers because the movement of the doors will push dirt to fall.

This makes it require less maintenance.

However, not all homes can have a top-hung sliding door. Your wall or ceiling must be able to support the weight of the sliding door and its hardware.

It is also more expensive to install a top-hung sliding door because you need a contractor that has experience in installing one.

Bottom Rolling Sliding Doors

Homes that are unable to install a top-hung sliding door are left with only one option—a bottom-rolling sliding door.

A bottom-rolling sliding door has a track and wheels at the bottom of the door. Unlike a top-hung sliding door, the tracks are fully open to dirt. This makes this type of sliding door more prone to getting stuck.

The dirt, sand, and debris that find their way into the tracks cause the wheels to fail more often. This makes this type require more maintenance. The wheels of a bottom rolling sliding door will require replacements more often.

The track is always above floor level because installing it below floor level will make it prone to accumulating more dirt and debris. This means that the track presents a tripping hazard that you and your family must always navigate around. This is especially dangerous with small children, the elderly, or mobility-impaired individuals in the house.

Another downside of a bottom-rolling sliding door is that an intruder can lift it off its tracks and gain access to your house.

On the plus side, bottom-rolling sliding doors are simpler to install. This makes them the cheaper choice, which can save you money in the short term. However, with the higher maintenance rate and its susceptibility to failure, it will not take long before you lose your initial savings from the installation.

How to replace sliding door rollers?

Worker fixing the insect screen sliding door

Aside from cleaning, one of the most common maintenance tasks that you will need to do with your sliding door is to replace the rollers. Once your sliding door starts to become difficult to open or close, check the rollers for damage and replace them if necessary.

This is a task that you will need to do more often on a bottom-rolling sliding door, so our example below will be for a bottom-rolling sliding door.

You can adapt the steps to a top-hung sliding door if you need to replace the sliding door rollers.

An important thing to note is that some bottom rolling sliding screen doors have a plastic wheel on top too. The roller on top doesn’t really help in making your sliding door move more smoothly because the weight of the door is resting on the bottom wheels. However, if you need an emergency wheel replacement and your sliding door has a top wheel, you can use the top wheel as a replacement.

Using the top wheels as a replacement gives you time to get a replacement wheel. There is a large variety of wheels that sliding doors use. You need to get the exact type of wheel for your sliding door for the replacement to work.

Removing The Sliding Door

Before you can replace the roller, you will need to remove your sliding door. Removing the sliding door will give you access to the roller.

  1. Surround the area around the sliding door with thick blankets or foam pads. This will protect your floor from the sliding door. Glass sliding doors can be heavy enough to damage your floor. Similarly, the blanket and foam will protect your sliding door from damage too.
  2. Use a flathead screwdriver to reach under the roller and press it upward. Have someone pull the door outward as you keep the screwdriver in place.

    • There are some sliding door designs where you need to remove the track first before you can remove the sliding door.
    • Some sliding door designs use a top bracket to keep the sliding door in place. Remove this bracket to remove the sliding door.
    • Additionally, some sliding doors have a screw at the bottom. Turning this screw will raise the roller so you can remove the sliding door.

  3. Lay the sliding door flat on a foam sheet or blanket on your floor.

Uninstalling The Rollers

  1. Locate the fastener that is holding the rollers in place. Some sliding door use screws to keep the rollers in place, while others use clips.
  2. Unscrew or unclip the roller from the sliding door.
  3. Remove the roller from the sliding door slowly. Some sliding doors have a spring under the roller that serves as a suspension. Not all replacement rollers include a replacement spring, though. So, make sure not to lose this spring if your sliding door has one.

Installing The Replacement Roller

Close up of a pair of bearings used in sliding doors industrial

  1. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean the track.

    • Use a heavy-duty cleaning brush to loosen any stubborn dirt, then vacuum the track once more.
    • If brushing alone cannot remove some dirt, use a solution of water and mild liquid detergent on the dirt while brushing it.
    • Rinse and leave it to dry.

  2. Install the replacement roller while you wait for the track to dry.

    • Never apply oil or grease on the track. Grease or oil will cause the roller to slide and not roll. Sliding will cause the roller to wear on one spot only, leaving a flat area that will make it increasingly difficult to open your sliding door.

  3. Reinstall the sliding door.

Weiler Heavy Duty Deck Scrub Brush is available on Amazon through this link.

Prime-Line B 702 Screen Door Roller is available on Amazon through this link.


Wheels on sliding doors help it open or close more easily because it reduces the friction between surfaces that are in contact with your sliding door.

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