Rollers may be one of the most overlooked, yet important, part of the garage door mechanism. They are the physical link from the tracks to the panels, supporting the full weight of the door while in the up position. As such, they are not given the treatment and consideration they deserve.
There are three main types of rollers in use today: Plastic, steel ball bearing, and nylon ball bearing. How well a door rolls varies dependent on a function considering the type of rollers in the door, age, and maintenance. Older, worn rollers tend to drag rather than roll causing the system to feel stiff. This can lead to premature failure of operator parts, causing expensive fixes which are avoidable.
These are the go to roller of the industry. Most new doors are equipped with this type of roller from the start. Manufacture lifespan of these parts are generally the same as the lifespan for the spring. Mainly used due to ease of manufacturing and cost, plastic rollers are sufficient for most applications. Plastic rollers are metal shafts with a wheel, akin to children’s toys. While they are designed to support the weight of a panel they tend to drag more than roll from lack of bearings. Maintenance of these included lubricating regularly. A down side to this design is it’s susceptibility to heat. Plastic rollers tend to dry out and get brittle over time. This can lead to failure when a roller cracks and breaks apart.
Steel rollers are another common variant seen mostly on older doors. While very popular years ago, they are less prevalent in today’s market. These are strong rollers with ball bearings. They tend to roll well for a longer duration than plastic rollers. These types of rollers are still readily available at “big box” stores. There are two main downsides to this design. The roller is constructed with stamped and press steel around the bearings. Over time the bearings start to auger the steel causing the wheel to wobble when in motion. Once the wobble starts, it compounds the wear exponentially until failure point. It is possible on worn steel rollers for the bearings to fall out fallowed by the wheel which could lead to panels falling out to their track. If the door sounds like a roller coaster as it moves, it is time to replace these out. At the same time these rollers are more sensitive to corrosion and rust. Lubricating regularly will help to extend the lifespan of steel rollers.
Nylon ball bearing rollers are the best rollers on the market at this time. They are available in two variants: sealed and open. Compared to plastic rollers, nylon is less likely to dry out and crack. The nylon is also softer and rolls more easily and quietly. The bearings help the part roll in the track. Sealed rollers require no maintenance initially while the non sealed roller still requires regular lubrication. Use of these rollers is preferred due to their lifespan and smooth function. At Door Doctor West, we value these rollers so highly that we include a lifetime guarantee on every set of sealed nylon rollers we replace.