Replacing Zipper Slider

jerry_njDecember 5, 2008

Sorry for the double post, I accidentally posted the following under the subject "Zipper Problem", an old post I had been reading to see if my question had already been answered. I believe the subject line is critical, so I post again under a better subject line.


I have a near new winter coat on which the main zipper slider broke off. It is marked "P5". I know "5" is the size, but I don't know what the "P" stands for. I believe the zipper itself is metal.

If I am to try to replace the slider I need to purchase the right size. Is "P" an important part of the size, or is just "5" all that is needed?

I can't find sliders locally, so the cost of the slider (a package of 25 or more plus shipping) makes me think I may be better off going to the local dry cleaner that offers some tailor services and see what they charge. The installation of a slider looks to be easy enough to not take much time, i.e., not a big labor charge...mostly just handling. I'd say $5 sound reasonable to me, without any direct knowledge.

Any suggestions/ideas?



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The trip to the tailor would be worthwhile and they will know if the P is important or not. Certain zippers aren't manufactured or distributed in the US and you can't replace the heads, you have to replace the whole zipper. At least you would know either way.

I'm also thinking $10 sounds more like it, having done the job and having had to make a trip to buy one individual head in the right size/color, which is not the same price as ordering in bulk. Still cheaper than a new jacket, so worthwhile.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 2:31PM
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Thanks theturtledady.

I stopped by the nearest cleaners that offers tailoring, and he said "nope" didn't even want to look at the broken zipper slider I had in my pocket.

I'm sure it is possible, given the correct zipper slider is found. The web even offers instructions on how to replace a slidder.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 11:27PM
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Often the problem is that the repair costs as much as a new jacket.

Yes, in theory, all is possible. But if I have to go and buy a new zipper slide to match your zipper, dismantle the zip, install the slide, then sew it up (hoping it will all meet well with no extra zipper teeth), well, I'd probably charge you more than the jacket is worth. You can't just slide a new slider onto the old zipper. Ripping out will have to happen.

I'm not surprised the cleaners said "NO". They can make a bit of money with hemming and alterations, because people expect to pay for that. Re-installing a zipper is going to be a loss financially for them. It take time, and most people don't want to pay $20/hour to have someone repair a zipper, especially when it actually does take an hour;.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 8:18PM
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Thanks mary_c,

I read you to say the idea of prying open one side of a slider, then squeezing it back into shape while holding it over the zipper "track" doesn't work.

I'm an engineer, not a seamstress or tailor (is there gender implies ??) and to my "how things work eye" it looks possible. But, given I can't buy a slider at Walmart or a local sewing supply center (I can't find the latter within 10 miles) I will either give the idea up, or find an old jacket that I can pry a slider off of. If I have any success I will look for this post to update.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 8:58AM
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No, Jerry, if you could "squeeze" the heads on and off, they'd be nothing but problems all the time. You have to pick out an inch or so of stitching and free the end of the zipper tape to slide a new head on and then put it back together. How much ripping and restitching depends on the construction of the jacket itself. If you can't get the right size head, then the only answer is a new zipper. Whether or not that's worth it to you depends on your feeling for the jacket and how much use you think you'll get from it, not its original cost.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 11:52AM
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It is very easy to replace a slider. You can order it on line. I forgot the website-will look for it for you.
It takes just little ripping the top of one side and stitching it back together. I did soooo many of them in my life, including zippers on tents. Where do you live?
Sometimes you can just buy new zipper same size. Take the jacket to the store and match it up w/new one and just use the slider. However, you will need the stopper. If it is metal you can switch it, if it is plastic, you need to buy metal one to put on.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 3:16AM
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O.K. I just went to ebay-since there is just about anything. You can buy zipper slider and the top stop there. Just find matching size and color. The top stopper is metal, not sure if it comes in color,but you could paint it.
If you need more info,ask.
I would have to see at least picture of the project, I could possibly quide you through this.There is a chance you might not need to open the top either but I have to see it.
For everybody there: Sewing shops are ripping people off on alterations on many items. And zipper is one of them. I had clients coming to me saying they had zipper replaced on jeans just couple of week ago and they broke. Well, they got charged 15 bucks but no zipper was changed, just fixed, put together from the bottom w/ stop put in. You can tell when zipper is replaced. No matter how much you try to match new stitches w/ old holes, it will not be 100% and you can see it.
Yes putting new zipper in jacket is pain in the neck and it takes time. If the jacket has snaps on it ,it is double the pain. I don't replace snaps, I cut into the zipper tape and carefully sew around the snaps.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 3:46AM
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    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 4:01AM
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This is a situation that points out how useful it is to sew. Making new clothing from scratch is for the most part an expensive hobby. Repairing clothing can be very cost-effective.

I don't know what the P stands for- so you may be looking at replacing the zipper. You might be able to find a zipper at Walmart or Joann's, but the selection is small. The selection in tailoring supply catalogs is much better, but many require a minimum purchase, (at least $25 or so to start) and shipping may be upwards of $8-9 for even a small order.

Sometimes, though, for my own use, I've picked up a jacket at a surplus and salvage store, or even at Salvation Army, and put the zipper from that into my clothing. My most useful winter coat was $100, + or -, so it would easily be worth it to me to put in a new zipper. Sadly, the last potential customer who called did not think her jacket was worth a $30 repair.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 7:12PM
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Hi I'm Spike the Hardware Elf... You have a zipper that is not the common YKK which we see here in the USA. First you must figure out what kind of zipper chain you have - plastic teeth are: coil or vislon. Metal is metal. The size is 5 - so once you know the 'Type' of teeth you can order a slider. Warning - it may or may not fit if you replace it with a YKK slider (most common). Nip the top stop at the top of the zipper to remove and replace the slider. Or un-stitch the top just a bit to get the slider off/on. I have several size 5's on my web site

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardware Elf

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 8:49AM
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The best way to find out if the new slider fits is to take the jacket to do store and use the old half w/ slider to zip it together w/ the new half. If it works, just buy the zipper and use the slider.
Yes you can just snipp the plastic top off from the old zipper. Use small needlenose pliers-the skinny sharp part off it,kind of slice it off. If you lucky, it splits in two pefect parts that can be even glued together back after you put the new slider on.
Sometimes is necessary to snip off tooth or two to put new slider on but it's O.K. as long as the stop is attached back on.
It really isn't big deal to fix the slider.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 6:23PM
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If it's not a YKK zipper, how do you find out the equivalent size? I have a similar problem with a slide that came off my son's laptop case.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 5:53PM
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You can match YKK and generic together.I normally take the old zipper w/ slider to the store and try to match it up visualy and if need it, I put old side and new side together by zipping it,to make sure. In case of laptop, I'm not sure, I would just eyeball it, take the case w/ you. The plastic coil zippers are tricky to fix. W/ those I wouldn't bother.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 4:29AM
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Joann Fabrics DOES sell the kit with the zipper slides in it. It can be found on the notion wall. But your best bet may just be to buy a new zipper if the slider fits the old zipper and switch it out. All the above posts have been very helpful in describing how to accomplish this.
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 11:19PM
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Gee, thanks. I had left this tread thinking it was a "lost cause". Then a couple of days ago I recalled that the subject winter coat zipper is the type that zips up and zips down, so, as I broke the pull up zipper I could simply turn around the zip down zipper and I'd have the correct size.

This thinking lead, and I see reading the posts here since I departed I went the right way, I figured: "why not cut the zipper at the top, just below the stop, and pull the slider off, turn it around and put it back on. Worked great, and a little simple hand sewing will re-close the top of the zipper. One problem, the upside down slider also served as the bottom tie, that is when the other size is slid into the slider the lower slider, in upside down acts as the anchor.

So, I'll find another slider, and using the same technique at the top of the zipper install an upside down slider, this one doesn't have to operate the zipper, it just acts as the anchor. Then re-insert the up zipper again.

I'll let you know how it works.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2008 at 9:23PM
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A zipper STOP is very easy to crimp on - and that's all that's required to install it, though you might have to snip off one of the teeth to make a space for it. You could also sew a bar tack as a stop.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 10:53AM
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Right, now all I have to do is find a source for a "Stop" piece. I think I'd describe it as a "Start", not a stop, it is the fixed piece that is attached to the bottom of the side with the slider and it has a channel that the end piece on the other side of the zipper fits into when one is just starting to engage the zipper. I did just check and turned the slider I borrowed from the top/down zip direction, reinstalled it as it had been and it works just fine as the anchor (start) to tie the bottom of the zip up path together, so, if I just hace two rather than one of these sliders I could easily fix the zipper. I'll scout around some old garments to see if I can find a worn-out item I can steal a slider from.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 9:24PM
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Personally,I never saw the bottom stop as a part to buy. Even when I was working in shop in Boston. That was the time to change the whole zipper. I'm curious to know if you can get the bottom part.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 4:24AM
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Yes, while I am not a zipper expert, I've used them many times, and I've always observed the zipper start (I'll call it) to be an integral part of the "passive" side of the zipper, the side that disconnects from the slider when the zipper is open.

Again, the reason this winter coat (if I talk about it much longer I will not have to fix it until next winter) now is short a "start tab" it was manufactured with a two-way zipper, when one zips it up, they can leave the slider at the top and zip the coat open from the bottom, via another slider that is on "upside down", and being upside down provdies a channel to lock, or start, the zipper when the zip up slide is all the way down, or in normal coat open position. I have seen this arrangement for zippers many times. As said it is clear to me if I can find another slider of the correct size, I can install it "upside down" and gain the "start" I'm looking for.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 9:27AM
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Ok, zipper working.

The slider I'd like to have is a Dulon 5c, what I used is a YKK 5 (Is YKK an International Standard? A US standard - if a US standard are Chinese manufactured cloths made to US or International standards?).

The subject winter coat is a Sonoma brand, I think that is a "recognized" brand, I purchased from Kohls last year.

As stated I had one good Dulon 5c, the slider that was factory installed "upside down" on the main zipper so that the zipper could be zipped open from the bottom when it had previously been zipped up with the "right side up" slider. The "up" zipper was the one broken.

Not being able to find a new stop/start zipper end, I took a YKK 5 off of an old sweat shirt. I then installed it as the up zipper and the factor slider back upside down as the stop/start. The YKK zipper would not zip correctly. So, I exchanged the two sliders, using the YKK solely as the bottom start/stop. This worked, all I asked the YKK retrofit to do was hold the zipper together at the bottom.

I've worn the coat twice today, and the zipper worked both times. I have hand sewn the top of the zipper where I cut to gain access to the line of zipper "teeth", to install and remove sliders. This approach worked great and would qualify as a "factory repair" in my eye is I just had an exact replacement slider.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 2:58PM
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Thanks for letting us know you have fixed the problem! Glad it all worked out.
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 7:26PM
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What if the parts are unbroken, yet the slider is just off the track? I have a beautiful pair of ankle boots that took me to Europe and back 11 years ago and some time later the zipper pulled off the track. A shoe repairman said they didn't fix those and I put the boots away hoping a solution would someday appear. Today, I am too poor to buy new footwear and would love to be able to wear those boots again. The zipper is heavy duty and just pulled out of the slider somehow. They fit better now than they did then - except for the broken zipper. Anybody have any clues?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 5:14PM
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I think these might make a good slider replacement for carhart zippers. Might look too big on dress coats.

Here is a link that might be useful: new kind of zipper sliders

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:00PM
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I have a new pair of jeans with a zipper that does not stay zipped. Normally I can see the tooth that digs in and holds the zipper slider, but not on this zipper. I hemmed them so I couldn't return them. Makes me mad. I don't want to replace the zipper.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 11:33PM
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carolemmc and soonergrandmom - go to a tailor. If the zippers are really in good shape except for the heads, the heads can be replaced.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 11:29AM
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@soonergrandmom: I've been told this problem can be fixed with a blob of solder. That said, I haven't gotten around to trying it myself.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 2:16PM
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