Solved: How to Lock Sliding Door From Outside? (And Unlock Too)

Last week, my neighbor’s three-year-old daughter accidentally locked herself inside her home. She was trying to open the sliding door at her house entrance when her mother was watering the plants outside and ended up locking the door from inside. The little girl immediately panicked and started howling. As a result, the mother rushed to the door to find it locked.

I was taking a walk when I saw this and, at once, thought of rushing to help. But I was utterly impressed with the skills of the mother, who kept her calm, sang rhymes for the daughter to pacify her, and started the process of unlocking the sliding door from the outside. I was surprised to see this as, being a security expert, I know that many people are not aware of how to unlock a sliding door from the outside. 

Soon, the lady succeeded in locking the door with the help of a metal rod and hugged her beloved daughter. It was so delightful to see the sight. Indeed, a mother can get fierce to protect her child.

This prompted me to write an article about the security of sliding doors. Being a home security expert, I know the importance of an external lock on sliding doors when you have children and also the vitality of being able to open the door from the outside if it gets locked from the inside. Hence, I decided to write about how to lock a sliding door from the outside and how to unlock it from the exterior of the door if it gets locked from the inside.

What Is A Sliding Door?

A sliding door, sometimes referred to as a gliding door, is a door that opens and closes by sliding sideways rather than swinging on hinges. These doors are either suspended from or mounted on a tract and are quite a trend nowadays amongst homeowners. Not only do sliding doors look vogue, but with the size of the houses getting smaller, these doors are an intelligent way to make the best out of narrower spaces. 

Sliding doors are commonly used as shower doors, glass doors, home entrance doors, wardrobe doors, or vans doors. The mechanism of these doors is considered less secure than the hinge doors, but the security of the doors may be enhanced if they are equipped with a layer of security in the form of locks. I have covered different types of sliding glass door locks in one of my earlier articles.

What Is A Sliding Door?

Can A Sliding Door Be Locked From the Outside?

Usually, sliding doors are locked from the inside of the home and not the outside. As these doors are not intended to be used as the main entrance of space. Even then many homeowners use them as the primary door of their homes and definitely need to lock the door from the outside. 

If you are one of them, you’d be delighted to see there is a way around this. All that you need is a keyed lock, a few screws, a drilling machine, and a screwdriver, and you are good to go.

The following section of the article will discuss how to lock a sliding glass door from the outside.

How To Lock A Sliding Door From Outside?

How To Lock A Sliding Door From Outside?

Home security is an important aspect of our lives in the current times. However, some doors can be trickier to lock than others. For example, if you have a sliding door installed in your home and you wish to lock it from the outside, you may have a little hard time. Typically, a sliding door is easier to lock from the inside but not from the outside. However, in this section of the article, I will help you find ways to install an external lock on a sliding door.

Let’s get started then

  • Step 1: Wash your door and the door frame properly using soap and water to make sure there is no dust on the door. Once the door is clean, let it air dry or wipe it using a towel or a cloth.
  • Step 2: Navigate to find an appropriate spot to drill the hole for the lock. It is important to be sure that the spot chosen by you does not have any glass behind the door frame. One way of ensuring the same is by placing your ear on the door and tapping it with the end of a screwdriver to examine the knocking sound changes. The change in the knocking sound will help you estimate the location of the glass behind the door. 
  • Step 3: Once you locate the appropriate spot where there is no glass, mark the spot with the help of a marker or chalk. 
  • Step 4: Now place the keyed lock where it shall be installed and mark the spots for the screws to be drilled. 
  • Step 5: Drill holes at the spot where you put the marks for the screws.
  • Step 6: Mount the lock by placing it at the desired location and tightening the screws with the help of a screwdriver. Ensure fixing the lock firmly.
  • Step 7: After mounting the lock, drill holes for the latch plate on the door frame. While placing the latch place, ensure that the lock should be able to meet the latch place.
  • Step 8: Install the latch plate with the help of screws.

Once the lock is installed, check whether it is working properly. In case you are unable to lock the door, adjust the placement of the latch place to ensure that the lock meets the place.

How To Unlock A Sliding Door From Outside?

How To Unlock A Sliding Door From Outside?

If you are locked out of your sliding door or worry that the same could happen, the good news is that you can open most sliding doors from the outside. As I mentioned before, standard sliding glass doors are not high on security, and if you lock yourself outside, most sliding doors will offer you a re-entry option.

Sliding doors are usually found with two kinds of sliders- the slider on the outside of the fixed panel or the slider on the inside of the fixed panel. The outside slider is usually easier when to open from the outside. The inside slider is more secure from prying, so it is difficult, if not impossible, to open from the outside. 

Let us discuss the ways to open both kinds of sliding doors from the outside. However, if you find the task complex, taking professional help is advised.

Outside Slider Doors

Outside Slider Doors

Being locked out of your sliding door that has the slider installed on the outside may not be as stressful as otherwise. As mentioned above, outside slider doors are comparatively easier to unlock from the outside. You can do so by inserting a pry bar, screwdriver, a metal ruler, or similar object that will act like a lever between the exterior of the door and the frame. 

Ensure that the lever is about 6 inches away from the bottom corner of the slider and is placed diagonally to the latch. Then pry the lever up and tilt the door to lower the latch. Once done, the door should be released from the lock. In case the lock is stubborn and won’t open, wiggle the door to release the latch. 

Once the door is unlocked, you may have to repair or replace the latch. In certain cases, the bracket may also require replacement.

Inside Slider Doors

Inside Slider Doors

The inside slider doors have the door slider installed on the inside of the door. Hence, opening a lock with the slider mounted inside may require a different approach. Opening the lock using a lever may be tried, but in most cases, you may not be able to access the slider since it is fitted on the inside.

Hence to open the sliding door, you will have to remove the stationary or fixed panel. 

To do so, locate where the fixed panel terminates. Now, locate the brackets or screws that secure the panel and remove them with the help of a screwdriver. Then grasp the stationary panel and slide it open. In case you don’t succeed. You will have to lift the panel. 

Once the panel gets detached from the frame at the bottom, tilt it outwards to detach it from the top frame.

If you find it difficult to remove the door by yourself, it is recommended to call a professional to avoid damage to the door. 

Safety Measures For Sliding Door Security

Safety Measures For Sliding Door Security

Home security is a priority for everyone. Vogue door options like sliding doors installed in your home may attract a lot of unnecessary attention. The threat that comes with it is natural and worrisome. However, you may follow certain security measures to avoid your sliding doors from being preyed upon.

If you have sliding doors installed in your home, the following safety measures may be helpful for you.

  • Use a stronger frame for the sliding door. Usually, aluminum frames are ideal for sliding doors as they provide sound structural support.
  • To avoid an intruder from breaking in by smashing the glass, install double-pane toughened or tempered glass in your sliding doors. These glasses are almost 200 times more resistant to stress impact as compared to standard annealed glass. 
  • Invest in good quality, high-security locks. If you are looking for a lock for your sliding door, reading one of my past articles may be helpful.
  • When you are away, lock your sliding door using a locking bar. Alternatively, you may also secure your lock using an appropriate-sized wooden dowel. A locking bar would prevent an intruder from sliding open the door even if the external lock is picked.
  • Use a tainted glass pane or cover your sliding door if it is the main entrance of your home. This will avoid unnecessary peeping into the house by potential burglars and also enhance your privacy.
  • Burglar alarms, these days, are fairly affordable and a one-time investment. If you are worried about the security of your sliding door, you may consider installing one at your home. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. Is it possible to install keypad locks and smart locks on sliding doors?

Answer – Yes, through a relatively newer innovation, a number of keypad locks and smart locks are available in the market that can be installed on your sliding door to enhance its security.

Q2. How does a sliding door or gliding door work?

Answer – When you open a sliding door, the spring inside the slider bolt contracts and allows the door to open. Upon closing the door, the spring releases.

Q3. Is a sliding door challenging to maintain?

Answer – Sliding doors slide with the help of plastic rollers, which may get damaged if they are not appropriately maintained. Damaged plastic rollers will not allow the door to slide smoothly. Also, cleaning dirt and dust off the track is to be done regularly to ensure that your sliding doors move freely.


Sliding doors are becoming popular, and many homeowners prefer them over hinged doors because of their elite look. Also, with smaller spaces, these doors make much more sense than the hinged doors. However, regarding the security of these doors, not much literature is available on the internet. 

The article talks about how to lock and unlock a sliding glass door from the outside. It also discusses some safety measures for sliding door security. I hope you must have the information valuable. 

If you have more questions related to home security, write to me in the comment section.

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