Choosing a Replacement Zipper Slider

Item # X-HT-300081

When looking to replace a zipper slider, you need to make sure you have the right type of slider to correspond with the teeth of your zipper tape. The slider needs to match the zipper teeth in both size and type. For example, a #5 molded tooth zipper needs a #5 slider for molded tooth chain. A #5 metal zipper needs a corresponding slider of the same size for metal chain, and so on.

Check the Slider for Labels

Choosing a Replacement Zipper Slider 3The number 10 on the back of the slider on the left indicates that it is a size #10 slider. The 5 on the YKK slider indicates that it is a size #5.

Some zipper sliders are labeled with their size and/or type on the slider itself, and this can be very helpful in determining what size you need to order. These markings can be hard to see, so we recommend using a magnifying glass to make it a little easier. The number on the back of the slider indicates the zipper size (5, 10, 12, etc.). Some sliders might also have letters on the back. The letter might signify the type of zipper tape the slider is compatible with, like coil or molded tooth. Other times, the letters are simply the manufacturer's batch run or some other designation. The number is the most important thing to look for on the back of a zipper slider to determine what size it is.

Double-pull sliders will not have numbers on them because of their design. So if you have a double-pull slider, you'll need to measure across your zipper teeth to determine the slider size. Keep reading to learn more about how to do this. Metal zipper sliders are easy to determine because of their appearance, but you will need to match the size of your replacement slider to your metal zipper chain using the same method mentioned previously.

Determining Your Zipper Type

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If your zipper doesn't have any markings, then you'll need to determine what size and type of zipper you have by examining the zipper tape. Start with the size. To find the size of your zipper, measure the width of your zipper teeth in millimeters when they are closed (if possible). The measurement might not neatly line up with a zipper size, as the actual size of the zipper tape can vary, but it should roughly correlate. Here's a chart that shows how the exact sizes of the zippers at Sailrite compare to their zipper size.

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Anatomy Zipper Parts 3

Next, examine the teeth on your zipper. The molded tooth zippers we carry at Sailrite are made from DuPont Delrin® acetal resins molded to the zipper tape, and the teeth are flat and distinct. A coil zipper has smaller, nylon teeth that look like a continuous coil. Zippers with metal teeth are popular in the garment industry. We stock a selection of these here at Sailrite.

Locking vs. Non-Locking Slider

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When you're searching for zipper sliders, you'll also see they are labeled as locking and non-locking. Locking zippers have a small mechanism inside that prevents the slider from moving unless the slider's tab is pulled. You can see this mechanism engage inside the zipper as you move the pull tab. Non-locking sliders will move if any part of the zipper slider is pulled or even by just pulling the teeth apart.

If you liked the function of your existing zipper, you can use the same locking style of slider again. However, as long as you choose the same size and type of slider, the locking or non-locking choice is up to personal preference. So even if your original slider was locking, you can replace it with a non-locking slider as long as the other aspects of the slider match the original.

Reverse Tab Sliders

Here at Sailrite, we offer #5 and #10 YKK® AquaGuard® Reverse Tab Sliders. These black, non-locking pull sliders are specially designed to resist corrosion and UV rays. On a standard coil zipper, the zipper pull tab would be on the toothed side. However, if you utilize the AquaGuard Reverse Tab Slider, the tab would be on the smooth side. Although they pair perfectly with YKK #5 or #10 AquaGuard Continuous Zipper Chains, you can also use these YKK AquaGuard Reverse Tab Sliders for any #5 or #10 coil zipper should you prefer to have the zipper pull on the smooth side.

Sailrite is your go-to resource for all things zippers! We stock a full and diverse inventory of zipper components: separating zippers, continuous zipper chain lengths, zipper pulls and sliders, and zipper top and bottom stops. We’re proud to stock both Lenzip® and YKK® brand zipper components. Both brands are giants in the industry, known for quality parts that last. Our Lenzip supply is by far our most robust zipper offering, with a wide variety of finished, separating and continuous zipper styles, colors and sizes, as well as sliders and pulls in a multitude of colors and styles to choose from. Think of Sailrite as your trusted zipper supplier.

Want to learn more about zippers? Read our "Choosing the Right Zipper" blog (#300049XHT).


This blog was updated in February 2023 for updated zipper terminology, size offerings and updated inventory.