When new flooring is installed in a room with a sliding patio door, there can be a problem if the installers do not provide an “expansion gap” adjacent to the door track. This thin gap should run the entire length of the door track and is often concealed by a thin strip of matching trim, such as a quarter round.
This gap is to allow for the seasonal expansion and contraction of the flooring. But, if the installers do not make provisions for such a gap, the flooring will force the track wall against the patio door during periods of expansion. This pressure will make the door more difficult to operate, if not impossible.
This situation is only of concern when the moving patio door is designed to operate on the interior side of the adjoining stationary patio door panel. When the operating door moves on an exterior track, such as with the Pella brand, lack of an expansion gap is of little concern.
When the lack of an expansion gap has caused a patio door to be difficult to move freely there is often a remedy.
First, we must understand the construction of the bottom patio door track. It is typically an extruded aluminum channel with a raised bead in the center on which the door rollers travel. The track walls (the legs of the channel) often incorporate a thin weatherstrip the entire length to provide a weather seal against the door when it is closed. The system is designed to allow just enough clearance for the door to slightly compress the weatherstip to prevent a draft, but not enough to cause drag as the door moves.
When floor expansion has resulted in sufficient drag to restrict the door operation, this weatherstrip can be removed. An awl, lightly tapped with a ballpein hammer, can access the underside of the weatherstrip and slide it out from its retaining sleeve.
Sometimes, this weatherstrip is not on the track wall, but on the interior side of the door. In this case, the door will need to be removed to access the strip for removal in the same manner.
If removal of the weatherstrip is still not enough to permit the door to move freely, then a “hand-seamer” tool is suggested to slightly bend the track wall away from the door. The door should be removed when using this tool to gain access to the entire length of the track wall.
Note: A hand-seamer is ineffective on vinyl patio door tracks.