When choosing an office chair, you probably pay attention to the comfort of the backrest, upholstery material, and armrests. And what about the wheels? Poor-quality wheels rotate poorly and can damage the floor covering, leaving scuffs, scratches, and dents. Yes, you can use protective mats, but getting high-quality casters for your office chair is much better. But how do you choose the right kit? What characteristics to pay attention to? Are chair wheels universal?
In 95% of cases, yes. But there are still 5% of non-standard models.
Spoiler: most of these custom models are made by one Swedish brand.
To choose a suitable wheel and can install it, you need to know what it consists of.
There are three main elements:
Wheel (caster). It’s that round thing that rotates and provides movement.
Stem. It connects the caster to the office chair.
Mount. It prevents the stem from separating from the furniture.
Let’s talk in more detail about each of them.
The way the wheel is attached to the furniture depends on its strength and ease of movement. Allocate stem-based and place-based mounts.
The stem provides maneuverability, smoothness of the movement on turns, and ease of rotation. Plates give excellent reliability but, at the same time, less mobility. Therefore, the first type is used for light furniture such as chipboard tables or chairs. The second type is installed on iron cabinets, storage racks, safes, tool racks, and massive structures. For greater strength, the plates are sometimes not bolted but welded. But replacing them after that becomes a difficult task.
There is another variety of plating – U-bracket. This is quite “heavy stuff” for use in extreme conditions. It is not needed for the office, but it can occasionally be used.
An office chair wheel can be made from different materials. The cheapest models are made of plastic, but this is not the best idea: they often break, scratch the floor, and are unstable under heavy loads. Nylon and polyurethane wheels move much smoother, do not harm the floor, and are able to run over the cable without crushing it. For massive furniture, fittings made of steel or aluminum can be used. The five-wheel design will help the chair to be stable and not tip over.
With polyurethane wheels, you can move freely around the office without getting up and helping yourself with your hands.
Stem mounts can be divided into three broad types:
Ring stem. It is an iron cylinder with a fixing ring at the top. Convenient and easy to install.
Neck stem tapering downwards. It is more reliable, but it is more difficult to replace it.
A threaded stem that is made like a screw that is screwed into a socket rather than inserted into it. Not very common, used in heavy furniture types.
Most office chairs use ring-type stems.
If you want to buy a set of chair wheels, you need to know: are all office chair wheels the same? Almost all of models are unified and have a size of 11*2 2 mm. The only exception is furniture from the IKEA brand (its dimensions are 10*20 mm, not 11*22 mm).
It is convenient because you can easily pick up wheels for your favorite office chair.
There are also models with double rollers, but they require a particular type of construction that is not so easy to find. A one-wheel roller rolls better since its friction force on the surface is much less. And therefore, the chair will move smoothly in a straight line when cornering. Two-wheel castors can withstand more weight and evenly distribute the load.
So, you should always check their size before buying: you may accidentally receive a rare non-standard model.
Also, you will have to spend more time looking for casters if you are a fan of IKEA furniture since the chairs of this brand have non-standard fittings. Yes, most stores will replace your order if it doesn’t fit, but it will take longer. So it is better to find out the necessary details in advance.
If you need to remove or replace the wheels on your office chair, you can do it yourself. You will need very few tools: a flathead screwdriver and a protective mat (or an old blanket).
The algorithm of actions will be as follows:
Lay a rug, blanket, or blanket on the floor. Now there will be no scratches on your linoleum or laminate.
Place the chair on top with the wheels up. You can also turn it on its side if that’s more convenient for you.
Pull each wheel towards you. It should pop out of the socket. If you did not succeed, help yourself with a screwdriver.
After removing the old rollers, take out a new set, insert the shaft of each wheel into the socket, and press firmly. If you hear a click, then the installation is successful.
Done, now you can use your upgraded furniture! Now the movements will be smoother and more accessible. And finally, throw away that old protective mat: you won’t need it anymore. Polyurethane wheels will take care of your laminate flooring.
Read more about replacing the wheels on the chair in the article.
So, we answered the question: are office chair casters universal? Yes, most of them are. But there are many other characteristics that you should pay attention to the material of the castors, the type of shaft, and the type of mount. The performance properties of the structure depend on this. Choosing a quality kit will serve you for a very long time and provide comfort in the workplace. In addition, you do not need to call a specialist for mounting. You can do it yourself without special tools.
Difficulties may arise if your furniture is bought at IKEA. The brand produces furniture with different wheel sizes, requiring special fittings. But even for this standard, there are high-quality polyurethane casters, although they are more difficult to find.