Roller vs Ball Bearing Drawer Slides: What’s the Difference?

Ball bearing drawer slides by Monroe Engineering

You can’t build drawers without slides. Also known as drawer runners, drawer slides are rail-based components that allow drawers to pull out from the furniture or objects with which they are used. Drawers will glide or “slide” along the drawer slides. While all drawer slides consist of long rails, some of them feature rollers, whereas others feature ball bearings.

What Are Roller Drawer Slides?

Roller drawer slides consist of two parts: a drawer rail and a furniture rail, each of which has its own wheel. The drawer rail is mounted to the drawer, whereas the furniture rail is mounted to the furniture with which the drawer is used.

The wheels of a drawer slide are designed to fit into the groove of the opposite rail. The drawer rail wheel, for instance, is designed to fit into the groove of the furniture rail. The furniture rail wheel, on the other hand, is designed to fit into the groove of the drawer rail.

What Are Ball Bearing Drawer Slides?

Ball bearing drawer slides live up to their namesake by featuring ball bearing. Some of them offer one-way travel. Other ball bearing drawer slides offer two-way travel. Regardless, they all feature ball bearings. Ball bearing drawer slides consist of multiple rails as well. The rails, though, feature ball bearings rather than a wheel.

Differences Between Roller and Ball Bearing Drawer Slides

There are other types of drawer slides, but roller and ball bearing are the two most common types. Roller drawer slides feature wheels. Ball bearing drawer slides, conversely, feature ball bearings. Aside from this design nuance, there are other differences between roller and ball bearing drawer slides.

Ball bearing drawer slides provide a smoother operation than roller drawer slides. Ball bearings are more effective at reducing friction than ordinary wheels. As a result, ball bearing drawer slides are easier to open. You can pull them open and push them closed more easily than roller drawer slides.

Roller drawer slides are typically cheaper than their ball bearing counterparts. They are made of lower-quality materials. You can typically find roller drawer slides in cheap, low-end furniture. In comparison, ball bearings are more common in premium, high-end furniture.

Because they are constructed of stronger and heavier-duty materials, ball bearing drawer slides tend to last longer than roller drawer slides. Many ball bearing drawer slides are made of steel, such as cold-rolled steel. Even when used daily for multiple years, they’ll continue to roll smoothly.

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