Choosing a Replacement Zipper Slider
A broken zipper slider is a drag. Without the slider the whole zipper is rendered useless. So it's no wonder that we receive a lot of phone calls and inquiries from customers looking for replacement zipper sliders. To help guide you in your search for a suitable zipper slider replacement, we're breaking down a couple different methods for how to identify what size and type of zipper slider you have.
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 VISLON® zipper needs a #5 VISLON Slider. A #5 metal zipper needs a corresponding metal slider, and so on.
Check the Slider for Labels
The YKK® brand sliders that we sell here at Sailrite® are all labeled with their size and/or type on the top of the zipper slider itself. These markings can be hard to see, so we recommend using a magnifying glass to make it a little easier. On the small piece on the very top of the zipper, you might see a number above an initial. The number indicates the zipper size (10, 5, etc.) and the initial signifies the type of zipper tape this slider works on. Additionally, a VISLON zipper may be marked with a "V" or a "VS" and a Coil with a "CN." But #4.5 zippers are a little different because they are only suitable for coil zippers, so they won't have an initial at the top, just the numbers 4 and 5. 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
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 when they are closed in millimeters (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.
Next, examine the teeth on your zipper. A VISLON zipper is made from molded plastic and the teeth are flat and distinct. A coil zipper, while also being made of plastic, has smaller teeth that look like a continuous coil. Zippers with metal teeth are popular in the garment industry and we stock a selection of these here at Sailrite.
Locking vs. Non-Locking Slider
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 slider, the locking vs. 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.
Ready to shop for a zipper slider? At Sailrite, you will find #4.5, #5 and #10 Coil zipper sliders and #5, #10 and #15 VISLON sliders. We also offer a variety of metal zipper sliders and chains.
Want to learn more about zippers? Read our "Choosing the Right Zipper" blog (#300049XHT).
Footnote: This blog was updated in June 2020 to include mention of metal zippers.