No matter if you’re redesigning a part of your existing home or you’re adding an extension, doors are the main components to consider. They play a huge role in the functionality of your home, especially when you start thinking about installing stylish types of sliding doors. They can complement the other components of your home, and you can divide them into two main categories, exterior and interior. Being away from what types of sliding doors are available will help you narrow down your choices a lot quicker and make the pick that is going to complement your decor style the best.
Sliding doors can help to open up smaller rooms and make them appear larger, and they’re very accessible.
Sliding Door History
Over the years, different door types have come in and out of style. One of the most commonly used doors are various types of sliding doors. As the name suggests, this door moves by sliding a panel horizontally to one side. A lot of sliding doors get placed parallel to the wall. They have a track on the bottom and on top that allows the door panel to move from one side to the other. Sliding doors can be made out of wood, glass, or metal.
Various types of sliding doors have been in use for a very long time. Archeologists have evidence that shows that there were sliding doors in homes throughout Pompeii, Italy. The first automated sliding doors were invented in 1954 by Dan Horton and Lew Hewitt. They got the idea to invent sliding doors when they had difficulty opening swing-style doors in the high winds in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Types of sliding doors are very popular in residential homes because they are very energy-efficient, easy to use, easily accessible, save space, and they offer security. These interior doors are perfect for smaller spaces like in condos or in small kitchens because they won’t eat up your valuable space. When you use glass sliding doors, they allow natural light to flood into the room for your plants, and this also makes them energy-efficient.
In a large open space, glass sliding doors allow you to separate two rooms without making the space look smaller. One example is a home office having glass doors. They offer privacy while not cutting off the space because you can still see inside the room and natural light comes through.
1. Barn Doors
One of the most enduring images of a type of sliding door would be the barn door. If you grew up in a more rural area, you probably had some sort of barn door either in the house or on the property. You may also be familiar with how a lot of these barn doors slide open. There are several different styles available, but one of the most popular styles in more modern decor schemes is the sliding barn door.
These sliding doors are also very easy to install. They come with an upper track and a bottom groove for you to slot the door into. You should be able to easily install this door and then it will slide from one side to another along the track effortlessly. This is a lot more convenient than a swinging barn door.
Being able to have this type of sliding door in your bard will help when you don’t have the space to swing a full-sized barn door open. It’s also much easier to operate without a huge amount of effort, even in windy conditions. This makes accessing your barn much simpler once you install it. You can find many styles or colors with this door, and it shouldn’t be too challenging to find a matching latch.
Some people choose to install this type of sliding door in their homes or garages too. Having a sliding entrance into a garage or room can be very convenient. Whatever your intentions with your new barn door are, you can make the most use of it without having to spend days installing it. They’re highly recommended and easy to use.
2. Bypass Doors
Arguably one of the easiest types of sliding doors you can have installed in your business or home is the bypass door. Bypass doors come with fixed panels that get hung adjacently to one another. Tracks go below and above the frame of your door, and you can open the door by sliding it in one direction. This makes it generally easy to use.
This type of sliding door has seen a huge surge in popularity for several great reasons. You’ll commonly see this door being used as closet doors, or they work as a way to separate two spaces for privacy reasons, just like a privacy screen. It also doesn’t take a lot of effort on your part to install one of these useful doors. You can buy them in a huge range of styles, and they can lend a very versatile look.
The most common bypass door type that you’ll see when you start to shop is the wooden ones, and they look like something you’d see on a traditional closet. Another common style for this type of sliding door is one you use in the bathroom. People like installing these doors in showers because they provide a great look while functioning very well in this space.
Buying one of these bypass doors, no matter the style, isn’t going to be difficult either. You can buy them without breaking the bank, and this allows you to put them on all of your closets in your home. The installation process is also relatively simple and something you can do on your own.
3. Folding and Accordion Doors
You’ve most likely seen these accordion-style doors installed in someone’s home. They’re another one that is very popular to use on closets. You’ll get a unique design aesthetic each time you install them, and opening them shows you why they have the name of accordion door by how the doors fold.
One of the best parts of this type of sliding door is the price. You can purchase a door in this style without breaking the bank, and they also work well as panty doors. However, this is less common. Installing a folding or accordion door is very easy because they slide along the track you hang on top of the door frame.
If you’re not a huge DIYer but you still want to install this yourself, consider this type of sliding door. You can find these doors at brick and mortar retailers as well as online, and there is a huge range of colors to choose from. This is a solid solution when you’re going to install multiple closet doors quickly as you can complete it within a few hours.
4. Patio Sliding Doors
If your property features a patio, you’ll most likely have some type of sliding door leading out of the house and onto the patio. These doors have strong links to patios due to how much people use them for this purpose, but you can also see this type of sliding door installed in other places in the home. They look very nice with more decor, and they offer a very great convenience to get inside or outside.
You can find many patio sliding door styles when you start to shop, but the most common one is a door that has a fixed door panel and a sliding door that works like the entrance. Some of these doors are made out of thicker glass panels that give you a great view of the outside. These doors are very popular for this reason because many people like to enjoy the view. If you want to have the most convenient type of door for getting out on your patio or deck, you want to install one of these.
Some patio doors can be extremely ornate while others are far more durable. You want to consider your needs before you buy this type of sliding door. It’s important to consider who is going to use this door the most and how safe you want it to be. The more ornate options are usually not the most durable. It’s possible to buy a very sturdy sliding patio door that has really tough glass that is hard to break, and this is a good choice if you have kids or pets.
Generally speaking, these types of sliding doors aren’t hard to install. If you already have a doorway, you may need to make some modifications to accommodate the sheer size of these doors. If you’re not confident in your DIY skills or if you don’t have the tools, you may want to reach out to a professional to have them do these necessary modifications before they install the door.
5. Pocket Doors
Pocket doors are very convenient to install for several reasons. The biggest convenience factor of this type of sliding door is that they disappear into your wall when you open them. A pocket sliding-style door will have a single panel with no hinges. The door slides into a space in the wall when you need to open it.
This works great when you want to have a nice door but you don’t have enough space for a traditional one. People use pocket doors as closet doors all of the time, and they can be a great door type to install in pantries or bedroom doors. It all depends on your preferences and style. When you’re working with very limited space, it’s much easier to be able to slide the door into the wall than swing it open.
Pocket sliding doors come in a range of different looks. You can find traditional wooden pocket doors, and they can come in a huge range of finishes. It can also be possible to find this type of sliding door with a contemporary feel. They were originally popular during the Victorian era, so you’ll see them on homes from this period, and they also match well with this grandiose style.
Depending on your carpentry skill level, you may want to seek out a contractor when it comes time to install this door. Creating the space for the door to slide into it’s too hard, but if you don’t feel comfortable attempting it, calling for help is a good idea. You will have to cut into the wall and finish the pocket for the door to slide into, so keep this in mind.
Pocket Doors by Salim Virji / CC BY-SA 2.0
6. Sliding Bi-Fold Door
There are some sliding types of doors that are bi-fold but still slide. You’ll see these doors used in pantries. This door will slide to one side when you open it, and it compacts both halves of the door toward one another. This isn’t as space-saving or compact as pocket doors, but they work out nicely.
A lot of people love the aesthetic this type of sliding door brings to the room. If you want to have the look of a traditional bi-fold door while having the convenience of a sliding door, this is a solid choice. You can also install these doors semi-quickly, even if you’re not a seasoned DIYer. In turn, this can save you money.
7. Sliding French Doors
When someone mentions French doors, you probably don’t think of a type of sliding door. This is normal as most French doors are a bi-fold design and made to open and close in a traditional manner, no matter if they’re exterior or interior doors. However, there are French doors like this one that use sliding techniques to help you save space, and you can even modify some to use as pocket doors, which is very convenient.
One of the main reasons why people love this type of sliding door is that they have a stunning look. These are usually very ornate doors and have a sense of style all of their own. If you like how French doors look but you don’t have the space for a traditional set that swings open, this is going to be very appealing. You can get the elegant look this door type lends without eating all of your valuable floor space.
These doors work nicely to allow you to create a sleek living space to show off your sense of style. You can use them as patio doors too, and they can work well in other areas of your home. No matter how you choose to use this type of sliding door, you’re going to get a fantastic look that will add a high amount of charm to whatever room you install them in.
Sliding French Door by Chris Kelly / CC BY 2.0
8. Shoji Door
In the West, Japanese culture has become extremely popular. Over the last few decades, many people throughout the western world have developed a huge appreciation for Japanese culture, and this has slowly moved into interior design. It’s not uncommon to see homes all over this part of the world with traditional Japanese design elements, and the Japanese have a very specific type of sliding door more people are adding to their homes called Shoji.
These doors are made out of paper and wood, and they’re incredibly ornate. They work very similarly to a traditional sliding door. The wood of your door will slide to one side in a frame, just like you’d expect. The big difference between this type of sliding door and other types is that it has a very unique look due to including paper in the design instead of more traditional glass.
However, keeping in mind that this door uses paper instead of glass, it makes sense that you have to be careful with it. The frame may be fairly durable and strong, but the paper is prone to tearing if you’re not careful with it. This wouldn’t be a great option to install in your home if you have younger children around. It’s a door type that is best suited for installation in a home with adults who will appreciate it and be careful with it.
You can buy kits that allow you to install Shoji doors in your home very easily. If you love how traditional Japanese interior design looks, then you’re going to adore having this type of sliding door in your home. They work very well, and they allow a bit of light to enter the home without flooding your room. They’re popular to put in the entrances of garden areas too.
Shoji Door by papadont / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
9. Stacker Sliding Doors
The final type of sliding door on the list is a stacker sliding door, and as the name suggests, they stack one on top of the other when you open them. They have more panels than you’ll see in a standard sliding door, but each is smaller and has an individual track. As a result, when you open them fully, the stack of panels is much thicker than a standard sliding door. The biggest advantage of this door type is that it gives you much more flexibility and options. There is more range that you can open the door, and this gives you greater control over airflow, light, and how open you can make the room feel.
Another advantage of this type of sliding door is the configurability they offer. Instead of fixing the door to an end of the door frame, you can fix the central point with others sliding on each side. This allows for more configurations, and it can be very desirable when you’re building a new home or extension as it allows you to arrange your spaces in unique ways without taking away how functional it is.
Since this door has more panels, they all require their own track to move. So, they need more space when it comes time to install them. Not every room will have enough space to accommodate the thickness level of three to six stacked panels, so keep this in mind.
Stacker Sliding Door by Amanda Slater / CC BY-SA 2.0
Features to Consider in Your Types of Sliding Doors
There are three big things you want to consider when you’re trying to decide between one or more types of sliding doors. They can help make your installation process go smoother and get more flexibility out of your new door as a whole. They include:
If you want to ensure that your sliding doors will close very quietly each time you use them, it’s best to find ones that come with ball-bearing rollers. This is going to help you enjoy your new type of sliding door better without feeling like you’re alerting the whole house each time you go through it. It’s very remarkable how quiet some of these doors can be when you outfit them with the right technology. Ball-bearing rollers work to muffle sounds when the door opens or closes, and it adds a very smooth feel when you operate the door.
The hardware you use to hang this type of door is very durable and heavy-duty. You won’t have to worry about a lot of wear and tear, even with heavy use. Despite this, it still manages to lend a very quiet operation each time you open or close the door. This is nice if you have small kids in the house or you work opposite shifts of your partner.
Accordion doors may be very useful, but some people worry about not being able to close them as tightly as possible. If you’re worried about the security level of this door and being able to close it tightly, you’ll want to get an accordion-style door that has a snap-lock closing design. This feature is very convenient, and it allows you to know when you closed the door correctly because you can snap it in place. This can help you avoid leaving your door part way open each time you use it.
A lot of modern accordion-style doors will come with this feature built-in. If this is something that is important to you, you want to do a small amount of research about this type of sliding door to ensure you get the correct one that you can easily close. These doors are very affordable, no matter where you choose to use the door in your home.
Buying a type of sliding door that comes outfitted with tempered glass is very highly recommended. The last thing you want to do is purchase a beautiful new glass sliding door and be worried it’ll crack or shatter with regular use. When you have a door that features tempered glass, this is going to be more likely to withstand wear and tear well. You won’t have to worry about it breaking if you accidentally bump it either.
Also, tempered glass will work to keep your family much safer. Since it’s harder to break overall, it can be good for families that have kids because it lowers the chances of getting cut on broken glass. Today, most modern types of sliding doors that feature windows use tempered glass. It’s still a good idea to double-check before you make any big decisions though.
We’ve outlined nine popular types of sliding doors, and you can sort through them to see which one will work best for your next project. They’re all solid options, and they can blend with a range of decor styles while offering functionality and beauty to your space.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.