If your garage door grinds as it shudders up and down the track, you should definitely look at replacing the rollers.
Plastic garage door rollers come standard with many new homes. They’re even installed by many aftermarket companies as a cost-saving measure. They’re only meant to last as long as your warranty and often fail soon after it expires.
Here are my plastic garage door rollers after only one year.
Every time the door opened or closed, the side of the track would shave some of the rollers off. Once it was thin enough, chunks started falling off, causing the wheel to bounce as it moved up and down the track.
It sounded like the door wouldn’t open anymore, so I replaced the rollers.
Replacing your worn-out garage door rollers is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways that you can upgrade your garage door.
It doesn’t matter whether you have steel rollers that rattle up and down the track or old plastic rollers that look like shredded cheese. You can make your door feel better than new for less than dinner at McDonald’s.
How Often Should Garage Door Rollers Be Replaced?
Depending on what material your rollers are made of, they could last a lifetime or as little as one year.
In general, as you move up from plastic to steel to nylon rollers, their lifespan will increase.
Plastic rollers will usually only last one to two years before needing to be replaced. Steel rollers are more durable and often rated for between 10,000 to 12,000 cycles. That’s about eight years if you open and close the door four times every day.
I recommend using a nylon garage door roller like the DURA-LIFT Ultra-Life MAX roller. They have a lifetime guarantee and are quieter than steel rollers.
They’ve got a sealed bearing to keep the dust and dirt out surrounding a heavy, 14-gauge steel stem for higher load ratings. They’re rated for a staggering 125,000 cycles. You’d need to open and close your garage door ten times every day for over forty years to hit that!
Garage Door Rollers: Nylon vs. Steel vs. Plastic
The first question you have to ask is what you want to gain from replacing your garage door rollers? Do you want durability? Noise reduction?
That decision will drive what kind of garage door rollers you should buy.
Three materials are commonly used for garage door rollers: plastic, steel, and nylon.
Plastic rollers are found in some of the cheaper new construction builds or wherever the contractors want to save money. They’re usually black in color and have no need for lubrication. They’re only designed to be temporary until you get something more durable.
Steel rollers are much more durable and require regular lubrication. If well maintained, they’ll essentially last forever. There’s one other drawback: they’re loud.
A clunky steel roller running along a steel track is a recipe for noise.
Nylon rollers are rarely included with new construction, almost always added after the fact. Occasionally, if you upgrade your garage door, the installer will give you the option of adding nylon rollers.
If you’re given that option, take it. Nylon garage door rollers are quieter than steel rollers and more durable than plastic rollers.
In most cases, nylon garage door rollers are much better than steel, but there are still other factors you need to consider.
Cost To Replace Garage Door Rollers?
That’s the big question, right? How much is it going to cost to replace garage door rollers?
This probably won’t come as a shock, but it depends on how big your garage door is.
If you’ve got a seven-foot-tall garage door, you’ll typically have ten rollers for the entire door. An eight-foot-tall garage door will add another two rollers for a total of twelve.
Instead, I recommend springing for the Dura-Lift nylon rollers which are higher quality, quieter than the steel rollers, and cheaper too at only around $25 for a set of ten on Amazon or at Home Depot.
How To Replace Garage Door Rollers
Safety Disclaimer: Replacing the bottom roller on a garage door can be extremely dangerous when done incorrectly. NEVER loosen the bolts that secure the bottom fixture to the garage door or remove the cable from the bottom fixture. Failure to adhere to these warnings may cause the door to cock, jamb, or fall, resulting in property damage and/or personal injury or death. Consider yourself warned!
In all seriousness, garage doors are under A LOT of tension.
My door has a cable that runs down the side of the door attached to the bottom roller with some red screws. When the door is closed, the cable sounds like a bass guitar string if you pluck it.
So do yourself (and your loved ones) a favor and never unscrew the bottom roller bracket!
Before you get started, there are two safety precautions to take:
- Unplug your garage door opener. It’s unlikely that the garage door will start up by itself, but we want to be as safe as possible.
- Unhook the trolley from the garage door arm to move the door freely up and down.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way…
Let’s start with the easy ones first.
Do You Need To Bend The Track?
There are two schools of thought about replacing rollers: bend the track or unscrew the brackets.
The people who say to bend the track will say that you’re going to need to do it anyway to tackle the bottom roller (more on that later). If you’re already doing it for one set of rollers, you might as well do it for all of them.
But the people who say to unscrew the brackets and just pop in new rollers will tell you that this is more straightforward. It also saves you the trouble of popping each garage door section off the track.
It also saves some wear on the rollers when trying to squeeze them back on the track.
I fall in the second camp. For me, unscrewing the brackets was much simpler and only took a few minutes per roller.
How to Replace Upper Garage Door Rollers
Grab a socket wrench and unscrew the retaining bolts to the brackets that hold the garage door rollers. Again…DO NOT DO THIS FOR THE BOTTOM ROLLER.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it’s essential.
Once you’ve got the bracket off, the roller will slide right out of the track.
It’s good to inspect your garage door brackets for any damage, especially if you have an older garage door. I had a relatively new house, so mine was OK.
The old plastic roller just falls out, and the new one just slides in its place.
When you’re putting the new rollers into your garage door hinges, it’s good to add a little lubricant to help things run smoothly.
I like using WD-40 White Lithium Grease, which is garage-door safe. Just be sure not to use the normal red-cap WD-40.
After the roller is in and you’ve added a little lubricant to it, just screw the bracket back in and move on to the next roller.
How to Replace the Bottom Garage Door Roller
The safest way to replace the bottom roller is to bend the track so you can pop the bottom section out.
Don’t worry. It’s easier than it sounds, and it doesn’t damage to the track itself.
The first thing you’ll want to do is open the door completely to get full access to the track without the door getting in your way.
Pick a location on the track about elbow height to you to make it as comfortable as possible. Be sure to pick a spot that’s in the middle of a section of track as well.
Using some heavy plyers, pry the track slightly open for about two inches in length. You just want it loose enough to ease the roller wheel out but not enough so that you warp the track.
Manually lower the door down so that the roller’s wheel is right inside the track section you opened up. Using a long screwdriver, pry the door out of the track.
You’ll need to use leverage here, but be careful of the tension cable.
Once the door pops out of the track, the roller will be able to slide out of the bracket.
The new roller can just slide into the old bracket like the other garage door rollers.
Be sure to add some white Lithium grease here to help the rollers spin smoothly.
Once the roller is in place, it’s time to pop the door panel back into the track.
This took a little finesse and a bit of brute force. You may need to use the long screwdriver again as a pry bar to help you.
Once you pop the roller back into the track, make sure that the door moves along the track smoothly. If you’re satisfied that it’s working correctly, we can bend the track back into place.
Once you’re done, it’s worth taking a few minutes and lubricating your garage door track and hinges to keep them in great shape.
Replacing my old plastic garage door rollers was one of the easiest ways to upgrade my garage. The door is quieter, the movement is smoother, and I expect the rollers to last at least ten years.
Now that you’ve replaced the rollers, it’s time to give the outside of your garage door some love and attention. I recommend checking out my guide on How to Clean Your Garage Door because it’ll show you a quick and easy way to get your garage door looking like new again.