Window Treatments for Sliding Glass Doors

Updated on June 21, 2011

Sliding glass doors, or sliders for short, can create a problem when it comes time to choose a window treatment. There are many factors to consider before deciding on a window treatment for your sliding glass door such as:

  • What other types of window treatments are in the room?
  • Is it a high traffic area?
  • Are there small children or pets in the house hold?
  • Which is a higher priority, privacy or blocking light?
  • Your budget

Some of these may not sound important, but I have seen a cellular shade get ruined not once, not twice, but three times because of small children. That is a lot of money to be throwing away on your window treatment. In that case, the person would have been better off with a vertical blind or even simple curtains until the child was older and would not ruin the fabric on the cell shade. Besides small children, the location of the slider is also important. Is it the main access point to the backyard or is it in the bedroom or dining room and hardly gets used? Each slider is different and you should have an idea of what is most important to you before you start to look at purchasing a window treatment.

Plantation Shutter for Sliding Glass Doors

When talking about window treatments for sliding glass doors, plantation shutters are often forgotten.  Most people equate plantation shutters to mean a double paneled shutter with a matching frame that covers a window opening.  The fact is, plantation shutters can also be created to cover your sliding glass door.  These are usually referred to as bypass doors.  The doors each slide past one another and usually overlap to block out light.  Depending on the size of the opening, and the depth of the door enclosure, will determine the number of door panels to use in a bypass door.  Two to three panels are used for smaller doors, and four or more are reserved for larger openings.

The door panels have a wheel mechanism attached to the top of the door.  This wheel then fits into a track that is installed to the top inside of the door opening.  The track normally accommodates two doors, one in the front and one in the rear.  If more than two doors are required for the door enclosure, a second track can be installed if there is enough room.  

If your room already has plantation shutters in the other windows, bypass doors for your slider can make a nice addition and keep with the theme of your room.  The one downside of bypass doors is you never get the full view of your sliding glass doors.  You will always have at least one shutter panel visible when they are all stacked together.

vertical blinds
vertical blinds

Vertical Blinds for Sliding Glass Doors

Vertical blinds, or verticals for short, are vertical slats that attach to a track system in your sliding glass door opening. There is usually a mechanism for turning the slats to adjust the light flow as well as a mechanism to open and close the slats. When closed, the slats stack to either the right or left hand side of the door.

The slats can be made from various materials, two of the most popular being cloth and vinyl, and some cases even wood. The cloth shades are made from a thick material and have metal weights sewn into the bottom to keep them straight and operate correctly. The vinyl slats are usually curved to offer better light control and are available in a large assortment of colors and patterns to match any room style.

Due to their cost in comparison to other window treatments, vertical blinds are a very common and practical choice for many home owners.  They are also the perfect solution for any rental properties you may own.

Cellular Shades for Sliding Glass Doors

Cellular shades are also installed on a track, but unlike plantation shutter bypass doors and vertical blinds, a cellular shade is one piece. It is made from a cloth paper material and has a honeycomb pattern to it when viewed in a cross section. When they are fully closed, the shade closes up on itself and stacks neatly to either the left or right hand side of the slider.

One benefit of a cellular shade is they can be made with a fabric that has a reflective side to keep the heat out as well as filtering light. The major downside of the cellular shade is that they are not very pet or child friendly since the material is so fragile. It is easy to replace a slat or two on a faux blind if your dog decides to chew it up, not so easy (or cheap) with a cellular shade.  The other drawback is the high cost.  Even so, they do look fantastic and offer great privacy without blocking out all of the sunlight.

Pleated Sheers or Privacy Sheers

Depending on the manufacture, they are either called pleated sheers, privacy sheers, vertical sheers, or some other trademarked/copywrighted phrase. They are all the same thing, or close enough in similarity to be called the same. Pleated sheers are a great choice for your slider if you want a more elegant look. Sheers have the appearance of nice drapes, but operate like a vertical blind. They are made from pleated fabric that lightens up the room even when the pleats are closed.  Privacy sheers are a good choice for formal areas such as dining rooms and living rooms.

Curtains or Drapes

People often forget about plain old drapes to dress up their sliding glass door.  Drapes or curtains are a perfect choice for a do it yourself project.  Most people are more than capable installing a curtain rod, and that is all you really need.  You can either go out and buy some nice drapes, or if you are handy with a sewing machine, you can make your own.  If you make your own drapes, you could even use the left over fabric for the other windows in the room to tie everything together.  I would not recommend drapes for a high traffic area though.  They are an ideal solution for sliders that may be in a bedroom and are not used a lot.

Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong solution when choosing a window treatment for your sliding glass door. Try to prioritize your needs for privacy and light control as well as safety for children and pets with the overall cost. If you are having a hard time finding a good solution, you could always have a designer or retailer come out to your home with some samples to show you and offer their input.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Raad Munir profile image

      Raad Munir 4 years ago

      hmm, I like the cellular shades option.

    • SunGloWF profile image

      SunGloWF 6 years ago from Denver/Northern Colorado

      How about window tinting? Window tint is a great option as a supplement to one of the above treatments. Window tinting will reduce glare, heat, and UV damage. You can learn about window tinting from Denver Window Tinting experts: SunGlo.

    • profile image

      no1vette 6 years ago

      I need a new track and rollers for my bypass plantation shutters. Where can I purchased them?

    • melodyandes profile image

      melodyandes 6 years ago

      Thanks for lots of information.

    • nslettengren profile image

      nslettengren 6 years ago from San Diego

      I like the plantation shutter idea for sliding glass doors. Is that expensive?

    • profile image

      Curtain Rods 7 years ago

      nice information about window treatments. and we give new look to home by window coverings and curtain rods and drapery panels

    • rugsdynamic profile image

      rugsdynamic 7 years ago

      I often prefer blinds for glass windows. But I find it more homey to use cellular shades. Thanks!

    • Petstrel profile image

      Petstrel 7 years ago from Slovenia

      I like the cellular shades option.

    • profile image

      Window Blinds Project 7 years ago

      I like the idea of plantation shutters for sliding doors, but it's so expensive...(sigh). Great article, thank you!

    • profile image

      ajbarnett 8 years ago

      What a useful Hub. Thank you for publishing it.

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I really enjoyed reading this hub. I'm always looking for advice on home decorating :)

    • relica profile image

      relica 8 years ago from California

      I like the use of cellular shades when you really need privacy on a sliding glass door. Great Hub!

    • beadams profile image

      beadams 8 years ago from St. Paul

      nice hub.

    • Morris Streak profile image

      Morris Streak 8 years ago from UK

      Vertical blinds can almost cover entire section of walls, and if you choose white, you can almost never go wrong. White also mums the sunlight just right, so the room is not completely dark. Good tips you have her. I'm into home improvement myself.