The Best Vertical Blinds Alternatives for Sliding Glass Doors

Abigail Sawyer | 14 Jun 2018 | Door Blinds

Want an alternative to vertical blinds to cover a sliding glass door or large window? Vertical blinds are durable and can span wide distances, but their utilitarian style isn’t for everyone. We’ve got some other window treatment options for sliding glass doors that are just as functional and give you a more modern look.

Sliding Glass Door Blinds Considerations:

  • Specialty window treatments will be more expensive, so you want to get it right the first time. We recommend getting free help from a Blinds.com Designer when placing your order.
  • Almost all blinds for doors will need to be installed as an outside mount. Most doors don’t have enough depth, so you’ll have to install the window treatment on the wall above.
  • Consider how your door handle may interfere with your window treatment. Your designer can help find an option that will extend far enough not to hit it.
  • If you want your door fully uncovered at times, work with your designer to add extra width so your treatment can be retracted and overlap the wall.
  • Is it important for your door shades to match or coordinate with other horizontal treatments in your room? Read below to learn about window treatments with coordinating products for doors.

Best Window Treatments for Sliding Glass Doors

1. Sliding Panels

Sliding Panels, also known as panel track blinds, are our top pick for sliding glass doors and wide windows. They give you sleek style, are easy to operate and are a versatile choice with hundreds of fabric options. Sliding Panel Blinds are made with flat vertical panels of fabric on tracks that allow them to slide to cover or uncover your window.

neutral grey living room with fabric panel blind covering sliding glass door

Blinds.com Super Value Sliding Panels in Mimosa Cotton with Wood Cornice in Davenport Cement and Blinds.com Woven Wood Shades in Hana Platinum.

Panel Track Shades are also a great choice if you want to make a style statement or coordinate with existing decor. They are available in a wide range of fabrics and some coordinate with roller shades (see links below). You can choose from light filtering, blackout or solar fabrics to get the light control that’s right for you.

Blinds.com Fabric Sliding Panels – coordinates with Light Filtering Roller Shades  + Blackout Roller Shades

Bali Fabric Sliding Panels – coordinates with Bali Light Filtering Roller Shades + Bali Blackout Roller Shades

Bali Solar Sliding Panels – coordinates with Bali Solar Shades

When customizing your shades, you can choose a wand, cord loop or motorized control. Choose whether you’d like your shades to slide to the left, right or split from the center to both sides (a split stack). To give your Panel Track Blinds a more finished look and cover the exposed track, you can add a fabric wrapped valance or cornice.

closeup shot of track and fabric wrapped valance for sliding panel track blinds from Blinds.com

Blinds.com Super Value Sliding Panels in Mimosa Cotton with fabric wrapped valance.

2. Vertical Cellular Shades

If you need to control the temperature in your room, Vertical Cellular Shades are the perfect choice for you. The honeycomb-shaped fabric construction creates air pockets that insulate your windows to keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. They’re just like cellular shades for standard windows, but the pleats run up and down instead of side to side.

Vertical Cell Shades are also the best choice if you want a clear view out your patio door. The pleated fabric collapses to a just a few inches at the side of the window. If you want your door completely uncovered, a Blinds.com Designer can help you add extra width.

This clean-lined style will give you a more modern look than vertical blinds. Opening your shades is just like sliding open a patio door. Push a button on the side rail and slide side to side. You can choose which direction you’d like your shades to open, either left, right, split stack (shade opens from the middle and retracts to both sides), or center stack (shade retracts from both outer edges to “stack” in the center).

Choose from hundreds of colors, and light filtering or blackout fabric options to get the look that’s right for you. Most fabrics will be white to the back side so you get a uniform look to the outside. If you want a matching look for the entire room, all vertical cellular shades come in coordinating horizontal shade versions. (see links below)

Blinds.com Premium Light Filtering Vertical Cellular Shades – coordinates with Premium Light Filtering Cellular Shades

Blinds.com Premium Blackout Vertical Cellular Shades – coordinates with Premium Blackout Cellular Shades

Bali Light Filtering Vertical Cellular Shades – coordinates with DiamondCell Light Filtering Cellular Shades

Bali Blackout Vertical Cellular Shades – coordinates with DiamondCell Blackout Cellular Shades

For a more finished look, you can add a cornice to cover the exposed track at the top of the shade.

If your sliding door is opened frequently and comes in contact with dirt from pets or kids, a cellular shade could become soiled easily. If easy cleaning is important to you, we recommend sliding panels in a vinyl or solar fabric which can be wiped down with soapy water.

3. Curtains and Draperies

If you care more about classic style than specialty features and functionality, try custom curtains draperies for sliding glass doors. Draperies will add softness and are a great way to camouflage a sliding door if you’d rather it not be on display.

Choose from patterns, prints, and solids in hundreds of colors to coordinate perfectly with your existing decor. If you need to control light or heat, add a blackout or thermal lining to your sliding glass door curtains.

Draperies can be hung above your sliding door with a wider rod, so that they can be pulled back on the wall to completely uncover the door. Work with your Blinds.com designer to calculate this extra width.

To get the easy operation of a vertical blind and the look of a drapery, choose a traverse curtain rod. This rod allows drapery rings to slide across the full length of the window. If you need to use a traditional curtain rod, be aware that center support brackets may prevent your draperies from sliding all the way across the window. Split your drapes into two and pull them to the middle to close.

Avoid rod pocket style draperies for patio doors. They are not designed to be pulled open and closed frequently. Pinch pleat or grommet style draperies can easily slide side to side.

For a layered look, you can combine draperies with another sliding glass door window treatment. Some customers combine blackout draperies with light filtering vertical cellular shades or sheer sliding panels for adjustable light control.

4. Sliding Shutter Panels

If you want to match other shutters in your home, or give your sliding glass door classic style, Blinds.com Track Faux Wood Shutters are a great choice. These sliding door plantation shutters will cover your door with two large shutter panels that can slide back and forth like the 2 panes of glass that make up your door.

Please note that half of your door will be covered at all times in the traditional configuration of these shutters for sliding glass doors. Check with a Blinds.com designer for options to extend the track on the wall beside your door.

Like vertical blinds, track shutters have louvers that can be tilted for adjustable light control. When customizing your shutters, choose from two louvers sizes. The larger your louvers, the clearer your view out will be when they’re open. Please note that shutter louvers must be closed before sliding panels back and forth.

Because these shutters are made with PVC, they are great for high traffic areas and can be wiped down with soapy water to remove dirt. This material also won’t warp in hot humid spaces. They’re the perfect choice for a beach house where you may want to let sea breezes flow through while the louvers block some sun.

5. Sheer Vertical Shades

If you’re looking for a replacement for vertical blinds, think of Sheer Vertical Shades as a hybrid between sheer curtains and vertical blinds. They are made with vinyl vanes (just like vertical blinds) connected to a large piece of sheer fabric that billows across the window.

sheer vertical blinds in transitional living room with sliding glass door

Sheer vertical shades can be tilted open to let light in through the sheer fabric or closed to block light and offer more privacy. Choose from hundreds of fabrics in unique prints, textures, and colors to make a design statement with your sliding door.

modern living room with large sliding glass door and white sheer vertical blinds half way open with view to swimming pool

Many customers choose sheer vertical shades to coordinate with horizontal sheer shades on standard windows. Blinds.com designers can help you find coordinating fabrics for a close match.

Some sheer vertical fabrics can be removed and machine washed, so they’re great for high traffic areas like sliding glass doors. Be sure to check cleaning instructions for your specific fabric before washing.

bedroom with sliding patio door and white sheer vertical shades tilted open so light shines through

Window Treatments to Avoid for Sliding Glass Doors

We do not recommend using horizontal blinds for sliding glass doors. This includes wood blinds, faux wood blinds and mini blinds. It is possible to install them, but be aware of these potential concerns.

Horizontal blinds will be extremely heavy spanning a wide width like a sliding glass door. Lifting them frequently could put undue stress on cords and cause them to eventually break. Cords could be as long as 10-12 feet and look unsightly when puddled on the ground (not to mention a hazard for small kids and pets). Horizontal products can also be easily damaged by pets trying to slip behind to see out the door.

contemporary living room with woven wood shades mounted over sliding glass door to patio

Wood Blinds, Faux Wood Blinds, Roman Shades and Woven Wood Shades have a large “stack.” This is the vertical space at the top of your window that the blinds slats take up when fully raised. Unless you order with extra height, they may cover the top of the door opening when fully raised, forcing tall guests to duck when going in and out.

Roller shades, sheer shades, and cellular shades have a smaller stack and are an acceptable option when mounted on the wall above the window opening. However, consider having to fully raise all of the shades above the window every time you want to open the door. If you don’t want the hassle, choose one of the products mentioned above that slide left-to-right.

Want More Ideas for Sliding Glass Door Window Treatments?

If you need more help finding the perfect window treatments for patio and sliding glass doors, Blinds.com Designers are available at 800-505-1905.

Check out our other resources for door blinds and sliding glass doors:

10 Things You MUST Know When Buying Blinds For Doors

Blinds for Sliding Glass Doors – Alternatives to Vertical Blinds

Window Coverings for Sliding Glass Doors That Are Actually Cute

Plantation Shutters for Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors look great with vertical sheer shades

WINDOW FAQ: Best Window Coverings for French Doors and Sliding Glass Windows

Conceal Laundry Room Clutter with Sliding Panels

  • About Author

    Abigail Sawyer is a Senior Social Media Specialist for Blinds.com. She's a home improvement junkie who is currently restoring a 1972 cottage with the help of her husband and goldendoodle, Biscuit. Walking in the footsteps of Martha Stewart, she’s happiest when she’s crafting or whipping up a new recipe; although nothing beats curling up with a good book and some Girl Scout Cookies. Follow her on twitter + instagram at @whatabigailsaw