In theory, sliding doors are a wonderful thing. But anyone who has ever inherited the kind with shutter doors that fold in half -- and eventually fall off the track -- is bound to disagree.
As an antidote, Seattle-based Raumplus has begun to sell a German customized sliding door system created in 1986 that aims to turn the market upside down. The design already does just that. The tracks are mounted on the floor, so you don't have to position them onto an existing stud in the ceiling or build a header to accommodate them. You don't have to worry about floors and ceilings being parallel either; the top of the door slides behind a sleek aluminum channel that hides gaps. This system makes it possible to put doors in awkward places, such as vaulted attics and under staircases (although they will slide in only one direction).
Raumplus offers a variety of materials -- from wood veneer to frosted glass -- for panels. The company has also teamed with Lumicor, a manufacturer of translucent panels embedded with fabric, paper, metal and foliage that can turn an ordinary sliding door into a shoji screen, a Regency metallic grille or a pressed fern panel. For information and pricing, (206) 204-0112, www.raumplus.com. To view panel materials, www.lumicor.com.