In the last decade, there seems to have been a large number of all-vinyl sliding doors installed in our area. Most have been manufactured by virtually unknown companies who sell to builders' supply distributors for resale to independent contractors looking for a product they can sell for less to the consumer. Even some major manufactures have developed an all-vinyl line to compete.
The selling features are...
1. Vinyl is a good insulating material. 2. They are cheap.
Our company is usually called upon to maintain sliding patio door systems that have been in service for 25-35 years or more. However, we experience the need for service to vinyl doors in only one to five years as a result of thermal expansion.
With wood, vinyl clad wood, aluminum clad wood and metal framed doors, adjustments to improve operation can be easily made to the frames and track walls in order to compensate for settling over the years. However, that is not the case with the dimensionally unstable properties of many PVC (vinyl) framed doors that have flooded the market in recent years.
Many manufacturers of vinyl doors apparently have not taken the expansion rate of the vinyl material into consideration when finalizing their designs. Consequently, in a relatively short period of time, the doors and the channels in which they travel expand creating pressure against each other.
Vinyl against vinyl doesn't slide well under pressure. In addition, as settling occurs, the critical tolerances of the vinyl components move closer together and the doors drag. We recommend lubricating these surfaces with a PTFE (Teflon) dry lube. Never use any kind of oil, soap, grease, wax or any petroleum based product. In any case, it probably won't help much.
It is our opinion that many of the vinyl doors we have encountered appear not to have been designed with periodic "maintenance" and longevity in mind, but more obsolescence and disposability.
Several manufactures of these "plastic" doors also keep their costs down by using poor quality brackets, handles, locks or rollers.
Our recommendation is to avoid buying an all-vinyl system... even if it means waiting another year to save up for something better.