Window Treatments for Sliding Doors

June 17, 2014

One of the many things I need to tackle in the house we bought last month are the window treatments, they are woefully out of date. In fact, the entire house is stuck in 1989 and everything needs upgraded and made modern. (I’ll share more “before” pictures as we progress room by room.)

I’m going to install a variety of new window treatments on the windows including plantation shutters and woven shades but right now these right to left sliding doors are confusing me. We’re desperate for sun protection to keep the desert heat out and our air conditioning bill low, but we need efficient flow since the doors lead outside to an uncovered area in the rear yard with the pool where the family will spend a lot of time splashing, frolicking, and merry making.

Presently, the sliding doors have old yellowish vertical blinds with a Golden Girls fabric valance.  Sweet!  Not.

sliding doors

I can’t stomach old vertical blinds, the look, the slapping sound they make when they slide back and forth and the one or two blinds that always pop out and fall on the floor and you have to struggle to stick it back in, cursing the entire time. I’m being nice when I say I strongly dislike them. There is also the issue of the neighboring window. We need both style and sun protection stat. 

In the looks department, I think this full length woven shade + floor to ceiling window panel combo is the most stylish. However if we’re getting baked by the desert sun we’d have to keep the woven shades low and it would be weird and awkward to have half lowered woven shades that we constantly have to duck under in a limbo dance.

woven shades plus window panels house beautiful

house beautiful

I do like the look of these transitional plantation shutters that are a little more islandish, never fun to clean, but streamlined and nice. It appears like a unit with a rolling system needs to be mounted for use, but these are a plus in the light/heat control column. Decorative window panels on the ends would soften the look, must investigate further.

sliding shutters hunter douglas



There is this more contemporary woven vertical blind look but when I stare at them and consider them for the space I feel very meh.

sliding panels


Hotels with balconies always have the layered look combining sheers, fabric panels, and often a valance. I’m not opposed to it but multiple layers feels heavy in such a hot climate.

Another favorite look is just fabric but when parted don’t offer any real light control or heat protection and although pretty I’m concerned the fabric’s edges will get smudged when pulled back multiple times throughout the day.

fabric panels sliding door window treatment

better homes & gardens

I’m most intrigued by this wave fold look I spied at Smith + Noble using fabric in lieu of plasticy vertical panels.

honeycomb wave fold

wave fold 2

It has me thinking perhaps I could transform the existing system with patterned fabric lined with blackout material – the hamster in my DIY brain is furiously spinning on its wheel.

Here’s an older pic I found on Pinterest, but this is the concept:

wave fold smithandnoble


Thoughts? How have you dressed your sliding doors to protect from sun & smudges? Enlighten me.



114 Responses to “Window Treatments for Sliding Doors”

  1. Sandy says:

    I consider myself a Las Vegas native, having lived here most of my life and am so excited to think you’ll be working here! I also have a south facing sliding glass door. Is it a possibility that you may add a covered patio on the back of the house? I ask because it would make all the difference as to the type of window coverings you’ll need. Personally, I would highly recommend it. Not only would it provide you with shade covered windows, but, of course, you’d have a wonderful outdoor spot to use anytime of the day or year. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that most houses in Vegas have them as they are considered somewhat of a necessity to fully enjoy the outdoors in the desert. Looking forward to hearing about all of your design adventures in Sin City! I’m sure you know about the Las Vegas Design Center ~ a trade marketplace dedicated to home furnishings and design. You’re gonna have so much fun!

  2. Centsational Girl says:

    Agreed Sandy! Yes there is a pergola but it’s on the other side of the house, what?? I totally would have designed it differently to protect against sun OVER the sliding doors! I’m going to the LV Design Center next week when I’m in town again, thanks for the reminder!!

  3. Centsational Girl says:

    You totally read my mind Rachel and you pulled it off, bravo! I’m so excited you shared your blinds to fabric tutorial, LOVE it!

  4. Yvonne says:

    I agree with Sandy. Adding a covering to the outside is the way to go. I have south-facing sliding doors and currently use fabric panels. It’s looks a little odd to have to close them since it darkens the room quite a bit but then again it’s only a temporary solution.. We plan on adding a pergola next year since it’s too hot out there without it anyways.

  5. Christine says:

    I need a window treatment for sliding glass doors for the opposite reason, keeping out cold in the winter! For years I have looked for something insulating and visually appealing that won’t get in the way of using the doors (we have a backyard ice rink). These photos have given me some good ideas! Thanks!

  6. teresa says:

    Take a look a betsey speert’s solution on her florida condo. i love it!

  7. Shelley says:

    Our sliding doors were the egress to a ‘2nd floor’ patio (with no stairs to ground level) and the back of our house faces full south. Lots of sun. Lots of heat in the summer into our kitchen. When we moved in there were no blinds (ack! no privacy) and hating (like 99% of the people here) the vertical blinds, we installed fabric panel blinds which were in a soft white, a bit translucent but with a damask-type stripe. Great for privacy; offered filtered light when full sun on the other side and a simple cord drew the panels back to the one side where they stacked. Those were the pros.

    The cons: did not like the track and reviewed different options such as some type of valance to cover. For coming and going you need to pull the blinds so that they are only on the non-opening side which left one half of the slider open to full sun.

    Solution: Installed white French doors with low-e glass and built in white blinds. The blinds are multi-position so that works very well for filtering or blocking the light or having fully open to enjoy the view. Love the look. Clean, uncluttered and simple. Cons – a bit pricier solution however considered a solid investment for the house; 2nd con: you either have the one door open or shut, unlike sliders which give you the option to have open in graduations. Low-e glass the only way to go if facing full sun. Further pricier solution, building a pergola which we are doing and then installing glass to make waterproof with roman shades to pull to block out sun when needed. (That way I don’t have to cover my patio sectional when it rains….which it does tend to do here on the west coast of BC.

    Idea for You: Not so much for the window treatment but as a possibility re the sun, short deck area to pool, etc. Install a shade sail. If put in properly, you’ll have an interesting element and transition to your pool area that gives you some sun but keeps your view unobstructed. Then you can look at how you want to address the sliders purely from an esthetic point of view. They don’t have to be expensive and I can’t see any reason why you can’t install one yourself once you read up on how they work (ie tension and anchoring). We were going to do this prior to deciding to build the pergola.

    Finally – we love our French doors – it opens up our kitchen dining area right onto the deck where we have a seating and bbq area. Extends the house right to the outside. Only thing we have to do – get a set of those wizard blinds now (lol!) to keep the bugs out. Good luck and looking forward to seeing what you decide/do.

  8. teresa says:

    Gee! My blog comment was here earlier, but now it’s gone. I just said you should check out BetsySpeert’s blog and gave a link to a post she did on her Fla. home’s sliding door solution. Oh well.

  9. Centsational Girl says:

    Thank you Shelley for that information, I so appreciate it!

  10. Karen says:

    They make sliding panels that look like woven shades. I’ve seen them in catalogs. If I had woven shades in my house, I’d consider putting those on my slider. Yes, I’m old fashioned and have verticals but at least they are fabric slats instead of plastic. Haa haa!

  11. Centsational Girl says:

    Wow Teresa, those are really nice! I had no idea that style existed, I’ll check them out!

  12. Julie Spear says:

    I like Shelley’s idea of a shade sail, I have been thinking of installing one over our exposed back patio (MUCH cheaper that building a pergola) but I think it would look smashing near a pool area! Ikea has those track systems with drapery hooks to do the multi layered draperies – sheers with some blackout-backed fabulous fabric drapes… They supposedly slide very easily. And, remember with a slider you are only moving the drapes in one direction, not opening in the middle, so only that one side would get hand-printy, lol! Those wave fold drapes are AWESOME!!! Good Luck!! exited to see you progress on this new house!

  13. Deb says:

    We have sliding doors facing west, but they lead out to a 3-season sunroom so the doors have never had any covering. However we’re adding 2 sets of French doors to the sunroom this month and we’re wondering about how more heat will come in to the sunroom. But we’re putting the doors in to allow a lot more light so I don’t think we want to cover them at all! Agh, big glass doors! It’s never-ending balance of heat vs light.

    I love the idea of those plantation shutters best if you’re going for a slightly beachy look, especially when there’s a unit that slides along with the sliding doors. So cool. From our experience, anything solid will block too much sunlight and it darkens entire rooms too much even mid-day on a sunny day. The plantation shutters look like a happy middle ground where you can move them aside until the sun is there, then adjust the shutters however much you like and you could still leave them open a bit to let light in.

  14. Virginia Mom says:

    This post is late, but thought I’d share my own invention to deal with SGDs. We were remodeling the basement, and the framing around the sliding glass doors was exposed. I asked a carpenter to re-frame that exterior wall to accommodate a pair of pocket doors. It was a simple, fast process. We hung solid doors there that block out all light and cold air. Maintenance involves dusting them once in a while. No drapery hooks, no vertical blinds (gaaakkk) no dry cleaning, no replacing. The carpenter now offers them to other customers and he named them after me, lol.

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