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How to Choose a Zipper Slider

So you don’t need to replace a whole zipper, just the slider?

Replacing a zipper slider is usually a much easier repair than a full zipper replacement, but there are still several questions that need to be answered before choosing the correct one.

This step-by-step guide will go over everything you need to know in order to help you determine the right slider to order.

Continue reading the guide

1. What Type of Zipper?

The first thing to do when finding a zipper slider replacement is to identify what type of zipper you have. Or, more specifically, the type of material your zipper teeth have. The most common types are Metal, Nylon Coil and Molded Plastic.

Determining the correct
type of zipper is incredibly important.

Zipper sliders are made to be compatible with their zipper counterparts. In other words, only nylon coil sliders are compatible with nylon coil zippers, only metal sliders are compatible with metal zippers, etc.

2. What's the Zipper's Gauge (Size)?

Once the type of zipper has been identified, the next step is to determine the gauge (also known as zipper size) of your zipper.

Zipper gauge describes the thickness of the zipper teeth. It's the number that follows a #, and it corresponds to the width of the zipper teeth, in millimeters, when the zipper is zipped.

To measure zipper gauge, you will need a tape measure or digital caliper. Take a measuring tool and measure the width of the teeth from left to right. If your zipper will no longer zip, you can also double the width of one tooth (this is an approximation that might overstate the gauge slightly depending how much the zipper teeth overlap in the center when zipped).

Determining the correct zipper gauge is incredibly important as the zipper's size and corresponding slider size need to match. A #10 slider will not work on a #8 zipper, for example.

Often, there is a number on the back of a slider. This doesn't always refer to the size and might to something else, such as the mold the slider was cast from. It is always best to follow the steps above to determine the slider size.

3. Autolock, Nonlock or Flatlock?

The locking mechanism on a slider describes how easily the slider "unlocks" in order to move along a zipper.

Autolock sliders disengage when you pull directly down on them. If you pull them from the side, they will not move. These are typically found on jackets, pants and other garments.

Nonlock sliders can be moved from any direction. In other words, they make the zipper easier to open. They are commonly found on bags and tents.

Flatlock sliders are typically found on jeans, sportswear and loungewear. The tab on the slider lays flat over the body of the slider.

Choosing an autolock, nonlock or flatlock slider is mainly a matter of preference. You can have an autolock slider on a bag, for example.

4. One Handle or Two?

Sliders come with one or two handles. It's pretty easy to determine which one you'll need.

One-handle sliders are the most common and are used for applications that require access from one side of the zipper only. They are typically found on clothing, bags, and pillows.

Two-handle sliders are found on items that require inside/outside access. Think tents, sleeping bags, screens/enclosures, etc. They can also be used on reversible jackets.

5. Slider Style

Slider style refers to the design of the pull tab on the slider and while it's mostly a matter of personal preference, it can impact the zipper's functionality.

Standard styles are very common and feature a rectangular shaped pull tab. These are common on jackets.

Long pull styles are longer in length than their standard counterparts. They're beneficial when easier grip access is needed. These are common on bags.

Wire pull sliders have large holes in them. They are beneficial if you need to attach a piece of fabric or leather to the tab for easier pulling.

There are also various styles of decorative sliders, which are a bit more stylish and intricate in design. These include (but aren't limited to) donut pull, ring pull, dripping pull, and teardrop sliders.

Other Types of Sliders

Not finding what you're looking for above? You may need a more specialized slider. You'll still have to follow steps 1 & 2 from this guide, though.

Reverse bale sliders (also known as reverse coil) sliders are nylon coil sliders that create an invisible effect. These are commonly found on pockets, sportswear and similar garments.

Bottom sliders are found at the bottom on two-way zippers. Bottom sliders are different to standard (top) sliders and will need to be replaced with specific bottom sliders.

Reversible sliders are found on reversible jackets. They either swing around the top to switch sides or they have a two-handle pull (there's a handle on each side of
the zipper).

All-plastic sliders feature a plastic body (as opposed to metal, which is standard on all sliders - even on molded plastic zippers). They are commonly used on zippers
that need to be corrosion-resistant (i.e. marine environments) or need to pass through metal detectors. They look very similar to metal body sliders, but are much lighter in weight.

Once you know these characteristics, plus the color you desire, you can select from among our stock items.

Sliders for Molded Plastic Zippers

Sliders for Molded Plastic Zippers

Sliders for Nylon Coil Zippers

Sliders for Nylon Coil Zippers

Sliders for Metal Zippers

Sliders for Metal Zippers

Please keep in mind that we do not guarantee that our sliders will work with your existing zipper. Most of the time they do, but there can be variations across zipper manufactures.

We hope that after reading these instructions you are zipping again in no time flat