What’s the Difference Between a Belt Drive and a Chain Drive?

Garage Door Installation, Repairs & parts in Kent, Washington

There are so many decisions to make when purchasing a garage door. What will the color be? How will it open? What kind of material is best? Should it be insulated? 

And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’re presented with another option. Should you opt for a belt drive opener for your garage door or a chain drive opener for your garage door?

Belt Drive vs. Chain Drive

While both options essentially do the same thing, open your garage door, there are some significant differences in how they function. There’s also a difference in the price, speed, strength, and noise levels. Here’s a breakdown of how each drive works so you can make the best choice for your garage.

Belt Drive Garage Door Opener

A belt drive system uses a strong rubber or polyurethane belt that pulls the door up and down the overhead tracks. When hefty doors are used, the belt option has steel reinforcements weaved into the rubber to make it stronger. 

When regularly maintained, belt drive openers tend to last as long as chain drive openers. After that, however, they tend to have more issues with alignment, lubrication, and tension due to the flexible nature of the rubber. 

Belt drive openers are quiet and open quickly and smoothly but tend to cost more than chain drive openers aren’t as durable. While belt drive openers are perfect for one-car garages, they’re also available for heavier doors, but as the doors get bigger, so does the price tag.


  • Quiet
  • Open quickly
  • Perfect for one-car garages 
  • Long-lasting


  • More maintenance is required
  • Costs more
  • Not as strong for heavier doors

Chain Drive Garage Door Opener

A chain drive opener uses a roller chain and pulley apparatus. The system works the same way the belt drive works by pulling the door along the overhead tracks. The difference is that the chain and pulleys are both made from metal, so they are much stronger. 

Chain drive openers are ideal for heavier doors that are wooden, insulated, or wider than one car. Unfortunately, because the chains and pulleys are both metals, they tend to be noisier to use and even bounce slightly as they go up the rail. 

Chain drive openers are less expensive than belt drives and are easier to find. They also tend to last longer than belt drive openers and only need to be adjusted once or twice during their lifetime.


  • Strong enough for heavy, insulated, or wood doors
  • Affordable
  • Low maintenance 
  • Long lifespan


  • Noisy
  • Slightly slower

Which Garage Door Opener Should You Choose?

Both belt drive garage door openers and chain drive garage door openers have their advantages. If you’re still unsure which will best suit your home, make sure you consider your budget, the weight of your garage door, and how important speed and sound are to you. 

For more information, contact us to find the best match for your garage.

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