Tutorial: Different Types of Boat Trailer Rollers

What are the different types of boat trailer rollers? And why do they matter?

This is a question we get asked just about every single day. We decided to write this guide to educate those in knowing what the main differences are between the 3 different types of materials and what sort of boat these rollers and trailer parts can be used on?

To get things started there are three main types of boat roller materials used; Black Rubber, Blue HDPE Polyethylene and Red Polyurethane.

As a general guide most trailer manufacturers and marine chandlery shops will tell you that rubber rollers are traditional used on aluminium and fiberglass boats. Blue hard poly rollers are designed for aluminium boats and Red soft poly rollers are made for fiberglass boats.

This in theory is partially correct. In most cases it is a simple solution for trailer manufacturers and shops to sell rollers and trailer parts to potential customers who simply do not know what they are looking for in a boat roller.

Lets take a in depth look at the three different roller types.

  • Black Rubber Boat Trailer Rollers:


Black Rubber Rollers are traditionally a budget type roller. They are generally cheaper in price and the life span of these rollers is limited.

Rubber rollers with constant use are more likely to crack, split and get flat spots. This, if not taken care of quickly can cause substantial damage to your boat and trailer and can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs!

Blue HDPE Polyethylene Plastic Boat Rollers:


Blue HDPE Polyethylene Rollers are most common on aluminium boats. The properties of HDPE Polyethylene Plastic material allow the lifespan of these rollers to last a life time. Unlike rubber, when installed correctly, you will not get any cracking or splitting and these rollers will always keep rolling to help make launching and retrieving your boat a breeze at all times.

Can blue plastic rollers be used on fiberglass boats?

A lot of trailer manufacturers and trailer parts stores will tell you not to use these products on fiberglass. You will often be told these rollers are to hard and will crack the gel coating of your boat. This statement is in fact only partially correct! The people who tell you this generally do not install rollers correctly to suit their boat. They chose the wrong style trailer and take no care in launching, retrieving and transporting their boat.

When you install these rollers to suit your fiberglass boat, these rollers will work just as good, if not better then urethane rollers. The only time you are at risk of damage is if you do not install the rollers to suit your boat and trailer. So please, when you put these rollers onto your trailer for a fiberglass boat, make sure you adjust them correctly to suit your boat and trailer.

Red Polyurethane Plastic Boat Rollers:


Red Polyurethane Trailer Rollers are typically designed for fiberglass boats only. Urethane is a softer material then polyethylene which makes them unsuitable for use on aluminium boats. The way the hull is designed there is a higher chance that the boat may cut in or slice through the rollers making them useless.

Urethane boat rollers like hdpe plastic rollers will not crack or split when installed correctly with use on fiberglass hulls. Unlike HDPE rollers, urethane rollers lifespan is limited. However with constant maintenance and cleaning after each use you will get maximum life from your rollers. With the many different types of fiberglass boats available, it is important that you chose the correct roller to suit your boat. Urethane rollers are the perfect upgrade roller from your old rubber parts and will help make launching and retrieving your boat a breeze.

What style boat rollers are available in what materials?

Tips & Hints:

  • Always adjust your boat roller brackets to suit your boat and trailer. Use tube side adjusters to raise and lower your brackets. 
  • Make sure you install the correct size roller to suit your boat.
  • Determine whether or not HDPE Polyethylene or Urethane is suitable for your boat.
  • Regularly clean urethane rollers for longer use and lifespan.
  • Replace roller spindles when necessary to ensure rollers spin with ease.

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