The Complete Guide to Garage Door Rollers

Many homes have garage doors that struggle to go up and down due to lack of maintenance. This usually leads to something bad happening at the worst possible time. One of the most important parts and often most overlooked is the garage door roller. They carry the full weight of your garage door daily to provide access in and out of the home.

Roller failure on a garage door can come in many forms. You could have a failed roller that causes your door to come off track, or your garage door may sound like a train coming down the tracks. Something as simple as replacing your garage door rollers can make a drastic difference in how your door functions and operates. Let’s take a look at the different types of rollers and how they play an essential role in the garage door ecosystem.

Different Types of Garage Door Rollers

Just like anything today, there are many options when it comes to choosing rollers for your garage door. Everything from builder grade to lifetime offerings are available in regular steel, nylon, and even stainless-steel. It can be confusing when shopping for garage door rollers because there is so much to choose from.

Below are the most popular rollers available for residential garage doors. We also added a few rollers into the mix that are used in commercial environments. Let’s cover each type of garage door roller, starting with your basic designs to the ultra-premium offerings, and explain the role each play.

Plastic Roller with No Ball Bearings

2" plastic garage door roller with no ball bearings
2″ plastic garage door roller with no ball bearings

This is the garage door roller that comes standard with any new garage door. The roller is made of hard plastic and the stem has no ball bearings. The wheel is essentially a plastic bushing mounted on a stem. The reason these rollers exist is to provide a low-cost solution for home builders.

Builders have dictated the quality of entry-level garage doors installed in homes today. This trend continues as competition rises in competitive markets. Garage doors are built using thinner metals and cheaper components to keep cost down. You can expect about 2-3 years of good life out of these rollers before they need to be replaced.

Most plastic rollers are being Made in China.

Steel Roller with 7 Ball Bearings

2" steel roller with 7 ball bearings
2″ steel roller with 7 ball bearings

The ball bearing steel roller used to be the standard in the garage door industry. This roller is a good upgrade from the standard plastic roller. It has seven ball bearings that can be lubricated and should last you over five years. They won’t be as quiet or smooth as rollers mentioned later in this article, but seven ball bearings are better than no bearings at all. On average, they are rated at 35 lbs. per roller and good for 5,000 – 7,000 cycles.

Most seven ball bearing steel rollers are being Made in China.

Steel Roller with 10 Ball Bearings

2" steel roller with 10 ball bearings
2″ steel roller with 10 ball bearings

This is an upgrade to the seven ball bearing steel roller. Adding three bearings provides a much smoother and quieter roll with less friction. Exposed ball bearings provide a lubrication point for the life of the roller. On average, they are rated at 75 lbs per roller and good for 10,000 – 15,000 cycles. The downside to steel rollers is they are louder than rollers with a nylon tire. A steel roller in a steel garage door track tends to make more noise than nylon against steel.

Most ten ball bearing steel rollers are being Made in China.

Nylon Roller with 10-13 Ball Bearings

2" heavy duty nylon roller with 10 ball bearings
2″ heavy duty nylon roller with 10 ball bearings

The ball bearing nylon roller is made of heavy-duty nylon to prevent wear and provide a quiet experience as it goes down the steel track. It features exposed bearings to provide a lubrication point. On average, they are rated for 75 lbs per roller and designed to last 10,000 – 15,000 cycles, which is equivalent to the average life of a torsion spring.

Serviceable nylon garage door rollers can be found with anywhere from ten to thirteen ball bearings. They are all pretty much the same, except some have more bearings. The rollers with thirteen bearings will be smoother and probably last a little longer, but they will all do a fantastic job.

Most ten to thirteen ball bearing nylon rollers are being Made in China.

Nylon Roller with Sealed 6200 Ball Bearing System

2" nylon roller with 6200 ball bearing system
2″ nylon roller with 6200 ball bearing system

This is the best garage door roller for most people. The price/performance of this roller can’t be beat.

They are designed to last over 100,000 cycles with a 100lb load due to the sealed heavy-duty ball bearing design. The sealed design features front and back sealed caps to keep out dirt, moisture, and other harmful elements that could damage the ball bearings. The sealed bearing design will increase cycle life and provide smoother operation while reducing stress on your automatic opener. Many rollers featuring the 6200 bearing system feature a lifetime warranty.

Lifetime Rated Garage Door Rollers

The quality of the ball bearings used in a garage door roller determines how long the roller will last. The 6200 bearing system uses the highest quality ball bearings on the market today and houses them in a protective sealed cover with high-quality grease. This ensures a lifetime rating of over 100,000 cycles, which is 10x more than your standard garage door roller. Opening and closing the garage door is equal to one cycle.

A typical garage door spring will last 10,000 cycles, and these rollers are engineered to last 10x longer. They are a great upgrade for your garage door without spending a lot of money. Rollers on a garage door are the only thing that comes in contact with the track, and making sure they are the highest quality is of utmost importance.

Rated for Heavy Garage Doors

Heavy garage doors are tough on rollers, especially the top roller, which travels the farthest on the horizontal track with a load on it. If you have a heavy garage door, get rid of the standard builder grade rollers and upgrade before you find yourself with a door off track due to a broken roller stem.

Cheap builder grade rollers are installed on everything from small single car garages all the way up to double car carriage house wood garage doors. Making sure you have good rollers will provide peace of mind as you use the largest moving object in your home daily.

Quiet Down Your Garage Door

Let’s face it. Everyone wants a quiet garage door. When garage door rollers start to wear, they will lean to one side and some rollers will make a clicking sound like a train on railroad tracks. This sound will only get louder as the ball bearings wear unevenly from normal usage. Most people don’t realize how loud their garage door has become because it happens slowly over time. Every day it gets a little louder.

Garage door rollers with the 6200 sealed bearing system will quiet down your garage door by up to 75% and provide smooth operation for a lifetime. The heavy-duty nylon wheel is super quiet as it rolls down the metal garage door tracks. You will notice the difference immediately after changing out the rollers. Having good rollers on your garage door is crucial to ensure it is running at its best every day.

There are many manufacturers online offering garage door rollers with the 6200 bearing system. We were unable to find a country of origin for this type of roller. A person left a comment online saying they were made in China, but we have not verified that.

Magnum Roller with Double Sealed Ball Bearings

2" Magnum Roller with double sealed ball bearings
2″ Magnum Roller with double sealed ball bearings

Magnum rollers are the top of the line garage door roller made today. They are offered in a standard 2-inch configuration and a 3-inch for larger commercial tracks. This roller was designed to withstand harsh environments like car washes and other industrial applications.

On average, they are rated at 200 lbs per roller for heavy doors and designed to last 100,000 cycles. Downside, they are expensive. They are mainly used in commercial environments, but the 2-inch version would work fine on residential garage doors and probably last a lifetime.

Double-sealed precision ball bearings are factory pre-lubed with high moisture lubricant for wet areas. Shielded tires deflect moisture and damaging elements from the bearing, and the snap-lock design gets rid of problematic snap rings.

They also offer an extra long 9″ stainless-steel stem which helps resist corrosion and the extra stem length will keep your door from coming out of the tracks if you have a cable off on one side.

Excellent for…

  • High moisture areas such as car washes, marine environments, poultry farms, food processing plants, chemical plants, and cold storage facilities
  • High Cycle Areas such as service centers, fire and rescue stations, transportation centers, and material handling areas
  • Dirty areas such as concrete mixing areas, sandblasting areas, mining, granaries, and paint shops
  • Quiet areas such as hospitals, apartment complexes, and retail stores

While the Magnum Roller is probably the best roller on the market, it may be a little overkill for a residential garage door. These rollers can cost 5-10x more than a standard ball bearing nylon roller. Residential garage doors are lighter and are not considered harsh environments like a car wash or cement plant. I would save your money and go with a good 10-13 ball bearing sealed or non-sealed roller.

The makers of Magnum garage door rollers claim they are Made in the USA.

7 Inch Long Stem Garage Door Rollers

7" stem nylon ball bearing garage door roller
7″ stem nylon ball bearing garage door roller

Garage door rollers that feature a seven-inch-long stem were originally designed for commercial garage doors. They were originally used as the top and bottom roller on each side of a garage door. The longer stem would help keep a large commercial garage door on track if the cable were to ever come off the drum. This might not seem like a big deal with residential garage doors, but with commercial doors, it can make a world of difference. Large commercial garage doors can span over twenty feet wide and tower over twenty feet tall.

When Is It Time to Replace Garage Door Rollers?

Worn garage door roller with failed bearings that needs replacement
Worn garage door roller with failed bearings that needs replacement

A good rule of thumb is to have your garage door rollers replaced when you have your springs replaced

Garage door rollers and springs are the two most often replaced parts on a garage door. Installing high-quality lifetime rollers will provide years of service, which is important since the garage door is the most often used entry door in the home today.

More than ever, homeowners are entering through the garage door due to convenience, which is even a better reason to have good rollers. Installing quality garage door rollers is like buying good tires for your car. The difference here is an ultra-premium garage door roller is designed to last a lifetime, while tires will always need replacing.

Ball bearing garage door rollers will get louder over time as they wear. If they are not properly lubricated through their cycle life, the ball bearings will start to generate pits in the metal, which causes the noise level to increase. The rollers will start to feel “crunchy” when you run the door up and down manually.

If you start to hear your rollers make a clicking sound similar to a train on railroad tracks, then you are getting close to requiring new rollers. Poorly running garage door rollers can cause problems ranging from a door off track to prematurely wearing out drive gears, sprockets, and belts on your garage door opener. Most garage door and opener issues are cause and effect. One issue generally leads to another due to lack of annual maintenance.

A good rule of thumb is to have your garage door rollers replaced when you have your springs replaced. Any reputable garage door company will replace your rollers for a reduced rate while they are changing your springs. If your rollers have been replaced recently, then you should be fine.

How Do Garage Door Rollers Wear Out?

Garage door rollers wear out differently depending on the type of roller you have. In the old days, most rollers were a seven ball bearing steel roller that came standard with all garage doors. With the increasing number of home builders popping up in cities everywhere, competition became fierce and builders started investigating options for cutting costs.

With all of this home builder competition, plastic garage door rollers with no ball bearings started to become the norm. These rollers feature a roller wheel made of hard plastic instead of steel or nylon. The wheel is essentially a plastic bushing on a metal stem, and they do not have any ball bearings.

Plastic Garage Door Roller Wear

This is one of the worst worn plastic rollers we have seen.
This is one of the worst worn plastic rollers we have seen.

Plastic rollers feature a plastic wheel with no ball bearings. The wheel is plastic versus the upgraded industrial nylon wheel, which is more susceptible to uneven wear and cracking. The picture above is a plastic roller that is completely worn down on one side to the point the wheel is smaller. If you see your rollers starting to wear like this, you want to replace them immediately.

Garage Door Roller Stem Starts to Rust

When a roller stem starts to rust, it will not move freely back and forth inside the roller carrier. The roller carriers are the bottom brackets, top brackets, and hinges the rollers are inserted into. A roller stem that is seized will not let the garage door self adjust in the tracks as it goes up and down. This will make the garage door feel much harder to open and close, which can prematurely wear out your automatic opener.

If you see the stem on your garage door rollers starting to rust, it might be a good time to replace the rollers on your garage door. If rust is a bad problem in your area, or you have a water softener installed close to your garage door, it might be a good idea to install the Magnum rollers with a stainless-steel stem. They are expensive, but that is to be expected with the ultra-premium construction of the wheel and the stainless-steel stem.

Bearings Fail in Garage Door Roller

Garage door roller on left has complete ball bearing failure.
Garage door roller on left has complete ball bearing failure.

Here are two rollers removed from the same garage door. The garage door roller on the left has complete ball bearing failure, while the roller on the right is intact. Some rollers higher up on the garage door will spend more time in the horizontal track in operation, therefore will wear out sooner than other rollers. The first roller to wear out first on a garage door is the top roller.

Garage Door Roller Stem Breaks Off

Stem completely broke off metal garage door roller. You can see the ball bearings in the picure.
Stem completely broke off metal garage door roller. You can see the ball bearings in the picure.

If your garage door roller stem breaks off one roller, it will most likely ride on the horizontal track as the garage door opens and closes. The door will most likely get louder as the metal is rubbing against the track in operation. For some reason, this is most common with standard metal garage door rollers with seven ball bearings. If you see this on your garage door, have your rollers replaced immediately with a good ball bearing nylon roller.

Prevent a Garage Door From Going Off Track

Garage door roller wheel is leaning due to bearing failure.
Garage door roller wheel is leaning due to bearing failure.

It is important to replace your garage door rollers if they appear to be wobbly or leaning. When they start to wear, the shaft will no longer be perpendicular to the roller wheel, and therefore it will lean to one side. A leaning roller will walk itself out of the track at the radius because the bushing or bearings are worn out. Homeowners often wonder why their door has come off track, and many times it is due to bad garage door rollers.

Another issue we see if the rollers are never changed is they wear down to the point the shaft comes out of the wheel. When this happens, the shaft will slide down the track without a wheel or the door will come off track altogether. Many times when this happens, the homeowner is not aware the wheel has come off the roller shaft. Taking time every six months or so to inspect your garage door will ensure you are maintaining the largest moving object in your home the proper way.

Top section is off track due to a broken garage door roller
Top section is off track due to a broken garage door roller

Here is a common scenario we see where the top section of the garage door has come off track. The reason for this is the top roller is usually the first garage door roller to fail because it spends the most amount of time in the horizontal track. The rollers on a garage door carry the full weight of the door as it runs through the horizontal track. Because the top roller turns first over the radius, it will rack up the most mileage first and be the first to fail.

How Many Rollers Do I Need for My Garage Door?

Old plastic garage door rollers.
Old plastic garage door rollers.
  • Most 7ft tall garage doors require 10 rollers
  • Most 8ft tall garage doors require 12 rollers

Most residential garage doors are 7ft high, and they require ten rollers to operate. If you have a 8ft tall garage door, you will most likely need twelve rollers total. Some older 7ft tall wood garage doors have five sections instead of four, and they require twelve rollers. The same goes for some newer 8ft tall garage doors that have only four sections. They will only require ten rollers instead of the normal twelve. The best bet is to walk out in the garage and count how many rollers your garage door has.

How Much are New Garage Door Rollers?

Please Note: The pricing discussed in this article is subject to change depending on where you are located, and will most likely go up as the years pass.

The cost of new garage door rollers can vary drastically depending on the build quality of the roller. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1-$15 per roller. Your standard 10-11 ball bearing rollers can be found online for a little over $1 a piece.

The upgraded high cycle nylon garage door rollers with the 6200 bearing system will sell for around $2.50 per roller. If you are going all out for the Magnum Double Sealed car wash roller, you can expect to pay around $15 per roller. The over-engineered, heavy-duty design of this roller demands a much higher asking price because it was originally designed to withstand harsh environments.

How Much is Labor Only to Have Rollers Installed?

If you purchase your rollers online, most reputable companies will charge you anywhere from $79-$149 labor to install garage door rollers. The cost of living around the world can be drastically different, so labor costs can reflect that. Keep in mind, if you purchase your rollers online, the garage door company that installs them will not be able to provide warranty for those parts. Most companies will only warranty the parts that come off their service trucks.

How Much are Rollers Offered by a Garage Door Company?

A standard practice for most honest garage door companies is to charge a service call plus parts. Most service calls range from $59 to $89 depending on the company. If you have the standard 10-11 ball bearing roller installed, intend to pay the service call plus anywhere from $5-$10 per roller installed. Of course, every company will have different pricing depending on where you are located in the world.

Paying Over $250 to Have Roller Replaced

Roller replacement on your garage door should not cost more than $250 including labor. If you are quoted over $250 to have ten rollers replaced, you are paying too much. Most companies will charge much less than this, but if a company is quoting you more than $250, ask them to leave and call another company. We have spoken to many homeowners who were charged $300-$600 to have garage door rollers replaced. This is absolutely absurd, and anyone who charges that should be prosecuted.

How To Replace Garage Door Rollers

PLEASE NOTE: There are many websites and YouTube videos online showing people how to replace garage door rollers. We recommend hiring a qualified company to replace your garage door rollers. While, we are not going to demonstrate how to replace rollers, here are a few important tips if you intend to attempt it yourself.

1. Disconnect Your Automatic Opener from the Garage Door

If you intend to replace your garage door rollers, make sure to first disconnect the automatic opener from your garage door. You can do this by pulling the red emergency release rope. The last thing you want is for someone to come home and activate the garage door opener while you are working on the garage door. This can cause the garage door to come off track and create a complete mess or possibly injury.

2. Unplug Your Garage Door Opener

When working on your garage door, you always want to disable the automatic opener, so it can’t be accidentally activated. The best way to do this is to unplug the unit. Please keep in mind, if your automatic opener has a battery backup, it will still run even though it is unplugged. To completely disable the unit, you will have to disconnect the wires on the battery back up.

3. Be Careful Replacing Rollers Yourself

While it may not be a very hard job, replacing rollers on a garage door requires knowledge of how a garage door operates. For instance, if you remove the rollers incorrectly, the bottom section of the garage door could be pulled upward due to the amount of tension on the spring. We have seen all kinds of scenarios from doors off track to blood laying on the garage floor when we arrived to repair a garage door that a homeowner was working on.

Upgrading Rollers on a New Garage Door Purchase

New Almond garage door
New Almond garage door

If you are purchasing a new garage door from your local independent dealer, make sure they are installing at least ten ball bearing nylon rollers. Rollers are usually offered in ten to thirteen ball bearing configurations, and some distributors will offer sealed rollers which do not require any maintenance for the life of the roller.

Choosing to go with nylon vs steel rollers will offer you the quietest operation, which is often preferred among most homeowners. The cost difference is minimal during the ordering process, but it will have a big impact on the overall performance of your garage door and opener. Most dealers will probably be installing upgraded rollers as a standard option, especially if you’re having a premium garage door installed.

Noisy Garage Door Before & After Video

Years ago, we got a phone call from a customer who said their garage door was extremely noisy due to bad rollers. Sure enough, when we arrived, we found garage door rollers that we’re at the end of their life cycle. These rollers were some of the worst I have heard, and they were installed on a fairly new garage door. The bearings in the rollers had fully collapsed, causing the rollers to sound awful.

Worn out garage door rollers can cause more problems than loud, obnoxious noise. We have seen garage doors come off track due to failed rollers. Poorly operating rollers can also cause opener parts to wear out prematurely, and force/sensitivity levels might need to be increased to higher levels than recommended. Occasionally, this is the only way to get the automatic opener to open and close the door.

Bad rollers are usually the cause of a noisy garage door. This video demonstrates the before and after noise level of a garage door that had worn out rollers replaced with new 10 ball bearing nylon garage door rollers. The opener used in the video is a LiftMaster belt drive with a traditional AC motor.

Turn up the volume, so you can hear the difference. Enjoy!

Conclusion

The garage door has become the main entry point into the home, and we are seeing springs break as soon as 3-4 years, compared to 8-12 years which used to be the norm. With the high traffic into the home seen by busy families, proper garage door maintenance has become more critical than ever. A visual inspection every so often to check for cracked hinges, leaning rollers, and frayed cables is good practice.

If your garage door sounds like a train coming down the tracks, it is probably a good time to replace the rollers. Replacing the rollers on your garage door before they fail will prevent your door from coming off track and help to quiet down the largest moving object on your home.

Another great time to replace the rollers on your garage door is when your spring breaks. Most springs are rated around 10,000 cycles, which is the same for most garage door rollers. When your spring breaks, have the rollers replaced and make sure they inspect for broken cables, drums, hinges, and spring bushings. A trustworthy company will do this naturally to make sure your garage door will run great for years.

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