Nylon vs. Steel Garage Door Rollers: Which One Is Better?

Garage Door Rollers: Nylon vs. Steel

The most important part of your garage door’s mechanics is its rollers. Without these, your garage door isn’t moving anywhere.

Nylon garage door rollers are superior to steel rollers in many ways, including durability and noise level. Additionally, nylon rollers are typically easier to maintain thanks to their excellent corrosion resistance. However, when pricing is a factor, steel rollers are less expensive and might be the way to go for you.

Choosing what type of rollers to use for your garage door can be challenging. Here we will compare nylon rollers to steel ones. Use this article to compare these two commonly used types of rollers to determine which one is better for you.

What Are Garage Door Rollers?

You’ve undoubtedly seen how a garage door works before. Typically, a door made of metal slats is guided up the tracks by rollers. Rollers are wheel-like mechanisms that guide a garage door up and down.

Roller sizes are standardized. Most at-home garages use 2” rollers, while commercial garages use 2-to-3-inch rollers. Although, the roller’s actual size is usually off by approximately ¼  of an inch.

Ultimately, your garage door isn’t going to move anywhere without these crucial pieces.

The Importance Of Ball Bearings To Your Garage Door

How well garage door rollers last over time will depend on if they have ball bearings. Ball bearings are small metal balls between the stationary rod and the rotating wheel of the roller that reduce friction.

Rollers without ball bearings tend to wear out much faster. Most nylon and steel garage door rollers have ball bearings. It’s best to try and avoid buying plastic rollers, as they never have ball bearings.

Normally, rollers have 7 to 13 ball bearings. The general rule of thumb is more ball bearings equal greater use. In other words, the higher the number of ball bearings, the more use you can get out of the rollers.

For example, a nylon roller with 13 ball bearings can typically handle about 20,000 garage door cycles. Compared to a nylon roller with only 10 ball bearings that is only fit to handle 10,000 to 15,000 cycles.

Winner: Tied. Both types of rollers have ball bearings.

Lifespan Of Nylon vs. Steel Garage Door Rollers

A high-quality nylon garage door roller can last about 12-20 years.

Material wise both nylon and steel have a good lifespan. However, the difference is that steel can corrode.

There are protective coatings you can use to prevent the steel from corroding over time. However, these are preventative measures and will only deter corrosion for a period of time. A protective coating will eventually wear down and allow the metal to naturally erode.

Winner: Nylon. Nylon rollers are corrosion-resistant and can hold up better in the long run.

Maintenance: Nylon vs. Steel Garage Door Rollers

When it comes to upkeep, neither nylon nor steel really takes much effort.

While nylon doesn’t need lubricant, it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway. Steel is more prone to corrosion, so you should lubricate steel rollers twice a year. Some technicians recommend lubricating rollers every 3 or 4 months.

If you have noisy steel rollers, lubricating them will help make them quieter. You can apply 10W‑30 motor oil or WD40 and wipe off the excess with a rag.

When lubricating rollers with bearings, you can grease the ball bearings directly. If you are greasing rollers without ball bearings, you can grease the roller itself.

Make sure to use a lubricant that is made specifically for metal to prevent premature corrosion of the garage door and rollers.

Winner: Nylon, because of its resistance to corrosion.

Noise Level Comparison: Nylon vs. Steel Garage Door Rollers

Nylon rollers are practically silent and make little noise as they open the garage door.

Steel rollers will rattle and vibrate whenever the door moves up and down the tracks. Conversely, nylon rollers will make little to no sound unless they have damage.  

Winner: Nylon is the clear victor here if noise concerns you.

Cost Comparison: Nylon vs. Steel Garage Door Rollers

Most residential garages take about 10 rollers to operate a 7-foot tall garage door. An 8-foot garage door will take about 12 rollers to lift it.

A set of steel rollers cost about $10, while a set of nylon rollers cost about $35 on the cheap end. Price will depend on what brand you buy, but nylon rollers cost about $6 to $10 per piece.

If price is a factor and you don’t mind the noise, then steel may be the choice for you.  

Keep in mind, the price of rollers will depend on how many you need to operate your garage door. The cost of seven rollers is always going to be cheaper than the cost of twelve.

Winner: Tied. Steel rollers cost less than nylon, but nylon rollers are made to last longer.

Other Types Of Garage Door Rollers

As mentioned before, there are also plastic garage door rollers. These are cheaply made and don’t last as long as other rollers do.

On average, plastic rollers can last about two to three years. Builders often use these rollers to cut the cost of construction and save a little money in the process. If you have plastic rollers, you should replace them at your earliest convenience.

Steel Garage Door Rollers Overall Review

Using steel rollers is a practical decision for homeowners. Professionals recommend nylon rollers because they’re more expensive and resistant to corrosion.

However, steel rollers provide a more affordable option if a noisier garage door system doesn’t bother you.  Plus, you would need to be okay with greasing the rollers occasionally. Then going with the cheaper option may be a better fit for you.

Nylon Garage Door Rollers Review

If you can afford the upgrade to nylon garage door rollers, it’s worth the investment. Not only will your garage door be much quieter, but nylon rollers are easier to care for. The system will run smoothly with little to no maintenance at all.

Relax knowing you chose the most dependable option for garage door rollers.

When Garage Door Rollers Wear Out

If you’re experiencing some of the following issues, it may be time to replace the rollers on your garage door.

Vibrating

When a garage door roller begins to wear out, it will have a harder time sliding up and down the track. This will cause the track to vibrate violently.

Door Misalignment

If your garage door gets stuck or lurches suddenly, this could be due to a damaged roller. A broken or damaged roller will cause the garage door to open unevenly. If your garage door is crooked or gets stuck, here’s what you can do.

Make sure the rollers are firmly attached to the shaft. The rollers should not be loose or wiggle. They should be secure in the track.

If you have a roller that has wiggle room, it may be time to replace it.

Weird Noises

Listen for weird noises coming from your garage door rollers. If you hear any scratching or grinding, you may need to replace a roller.

If your garage door becomes derailed, here is how to fix a garage door off its track.

Additionally, if a roller’s wheel becomes locked in place, it will cause a noise. Replace the roller as soon as possible to prevent it from damaging the track.

Related Questions

Can a damaged roller cause damage to my garage door?

Running a garage door with a faulty roller could cause expensive damages to your garage door system. A qualified technician will be able to properly inspect the garage door system to tell if it’s damaged.

The typical recommendation is to have your garage door serviced at least once a year. If you need any help with a garage door, a professional would be happy to help you for a cost.

How much weight can a garage door roller handle?

A ½ horsepower garage door opener will be able to lift about 300 pounds. This weight is about the average weight of a steel garage door. One horsepower garage door opener would easily be able to lift 400 pounds.

The more horsepower a garage door opener has, the faster the garage door will open. Even though some garage door openers are programmed to open faster than others.

Our Final Take

When deciding which product to go with, the first consideration is durability. The durability of both nylon and steel rollers is about the same. However, nylon rollers seem to last longer because of their corrosion resistance.

The next factor to consider is the cost. The cost difference between nylon and steel rollers is steep. The difference is so significant that most homeowners choose steel for the cost factor alone.

Other factors like maintenance and noise are worth remembering too. However, nylon rollers appear to be the clear victor when it comes to all other categories aside from price.

In conclusion, if you can afford the upgrade, nylon rollers are definitely the better option. However, if the price is determining your decision, you may prefer to use steel rollers.

Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent’s former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

Recently Published