by Ron Kurtus (revised 17 November 2016)
The most common type of friction encountered is sliding friction. This is the resistance to motion when you try to move or slide a solid object along the surface of another solid object.
When the external force pushing an object is not great enough to cause motion, the resistance is called static sliding friction. Once the objects are in motion with respect to each other, the resistance is called kinetic or dynamic sliding friction.
Interestingly enough, the static coefficient of sliding friction is greater than the kinetic coefficient, and thus more force is required to start to move an object than is needed to keep it moving.
Questions you may have include:
- What is static sliding friction?
- What happens in the transitional phase of sliding friction
- What kinetic sliding friction?
This lesson will answer those questions. Useful tool: Units Conversion
Static sliding friction
When the external force pushing an object is not great enough to cause it to slide, the resistance is called static sliding friction. In other words, the object will not move when:
Fe < Fss
- Fe is the external force along the sliding surface
- < means "is less than"
- Fss is the resistive force of static sliding friction
Static sliding friction equation
The equation for static sliding friction is:
Fss = μssN
- Fss is the resistive force of sliding friction
- μss is the coefficient of sliding friction for the two surfaces (Greek letter "mu")
- N is the normal or perpendicular force pushing the two objects together
When the external force equals the static sliding friction resistance (Fe = Fss), the object can break loose and start moving. The static friction becomes kinetic or dynamic sliding friction, which has a lower coefficient of friction.
This change from static to kinetic occurs rapidly but is not instantaneous.
Since the kinetic sliding friction is less than the static friction, the external force is greater than the kinetic friction.
Kinetic sliding friction
Once an object is sliding along a surface, the resistance is called kinetic or dynamic sliding friction.
Static sliding friction equation
The kinetic sliding friction equation is:
Fks = μksN
- Fks is the kinetic sliding resistive force of friction
- μks is the kinetic coefficient of sliding friction for the two surfaces (Greek letter "mu")
Coefficients of friction different
The kinetic coefficent of sliding friction is less than the friction when the object is stationary or static.
μks < μss
This means that it is easier to slide a moving object than it is to get it to start moving.
Relationship to external force on sliding object
If an external force is acting on the object, it can accelerate, remain at a constant velocity, or slow down, according to the strength of the external force.
(See External Force and Sliding Kinetic Friction for more information.)
When the external force is greater than the kinetic sliding friction, the object will accelerate. This is the case when a stationary object breaks from the static to kinetic sliding mode.
If the external force equals the kinetic sliding friction, the object will continue sliding at a constant velocity.
Slowing down and stopping
If the external force is less than the kinetic sliding friction, or has been reduced to zero, the object will slow down and ultimately stop moving.
Sliding an object along the surface of another object results in sliding friction. When the resistance to sliding is greater than the force pushing the object, it is called static friction. When the external force equals the static sliding friction, the object starts moving and transitions from the static to kinetic mode. Once the object is sliding, the resistance is call kinetic friction.
The external force acting on the object can cause it to accelerate, remain at a constant velocity, or slow down, according to the strength of the external force.
Help improve the lives of others
Resources and references
Friction Resources - Extensive list
Friction Concepts - HyperPhysics
Questions and comments
Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
Share this page
Click on a button to bookmark or share this page through Twitter, Facebook, email, or other services:
Students and researchers
The Web address of this page is:
Please include it as a link on your website or as a reference in your report, document, or thesis.
Where are you now?