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Chair Wheels

Polyurethane Wheels vs Rubber Wheels: Which Material is Better?

Mar 3 read


When trying to choose the perfect castor material for the office or home chair people often have to choose between polyurethane casters vs rubber. Whereas a person has never dealt with these materials before and is not well aware of the differences between them, it will be very difficult for him/her to make the right choice. Get acquainted with the basic peculiarities.

Polyurethane is a versatile polymer material used in various industries, construction, and everyday life. This material has high strength characteristics, dielectric constant, and also lends itself well to mechanical processing. In addition, polyurethane casters are characterized by resistance to aggressive environments and atmospheric phenomena, wear resistance, and durability. It has become a great alternative to the traditional rubber casters due to all the advantages of polyurethane. They have greater durability, resistance to wear and abrasion, so their service life is long.

Polyurethane or Rubber – Feature Comparison

So, we have already said that polyurethane and rubber are two common materials used for rollers that have significant differences. Below we compare their characteristics, which are vital for casters.

PU Wheels
Shore hardness (A scale) 40 – 98 65 – 95
Tensile strength, kg/cm² 312 115
Elongation at break, % 500 – 600 300
Tear resistance, kg/cm² 58 20
Shrinkage, % 33.5 35 – 40
Elasticity, % 40 30
Abrasion resistance (H22) 10 2
Temperature limit, ℃ -77 -70
Operating temperature range, ℃ -70…+120 -30…+50
Frost resistance coefficient 58 20
Abrasion, m³/t 11.25 – 26.6 45 – 80

Wear and Tear

Here is a comparison of polyurethane and rubber for casters in terms of wear resistance:

Wear resistance determines the shelf life of your office wheels. Rollers made from quality material will stay in good condition for years to come.

Polyurethane wheels are suitable for heavy duty use, including outdoor use.pu wheels

Roll Resistance

Rolling resistance is the force that needs to be overcome when an object is moved along a surface. Office chairs need wheels with low rolling resistance to enable easy and smooth movement across the floor.

Rubber and polyurethane are two common materials used in office chair wheels. Rubber wheels are softer and provide better traction on hard surfaces, making them ideal for smooth floors.

However, they tend to wear out faster than polyurethane wheels and can become noisy over time.

Polyurethane wheels are more durable and have a longer lifespan than rubber wheels. They also provide better shock absorption and are quieter, making them ideal for carpeted floors. Polyurethane wheels are also resistant to chemicals, oils, and grease, which can cause damage to rubber wheels.

Polyurethane wheels are generally better in terms of rolling resistance because they offer a smoother ride and require less force to move the chair.

However, the choice between rubber and polyurethane wheels ultimately depends on the specific needs and preferences of the user, as well as the type of flooring in the office space.

Load Capacity

The load capacity of rubber and polyurethane rollers for office chairs is essential when selecting the best option for your office. Load capacity refers to the maximum weight a roller can support before it breaks down or wears out. The load capacity of a roller depends on the material it is made of and its design.

Rubber rollers are known for their durability and resistance to wear and tear. They are also relatively inexpensive and widely available. The average load capacity of a rubber roller for an office chair is around 100-150 pounds. However, they may not be suitable for heavier individuals or prolonged use. Rubber rollers may also leave scuff marks on certain types of flooring.

On the other hand, polyurethane rollers are known for their strength and durability. They are made from a hard plastic material resistant to wear and tear, making them ideal for heavy use and individuals who weigh more. The average load capacity of a polyurethane roller for an office chair is around 250-300 pounds. They also tend to be quieter and smoother than rubber rollers and do not leave scuff marks on flooring.

In terms of load capacity, polyurethane rollers are the better choice. They can support heavier weights and are more durable than rubber rollers. However, polyurethane rollers are typically more expensive than rubber rollers, which may be a consideration for budget-conscious consumers.

It is important to note that load capacity is one of many factors when selecting rollers for an office chair.

In conclusion, while rubber rollers are a good option for those on a budget or for light use, polyurethane rollers are the better choice for those who need a higher load capacity and more durability. However, the decision ultimately comes down to the specific needs of your office and the individuals who will be using the chairs.

Cushioning and Resilience

Rubber casters are known for their excellent shock absorption capabilities, making them ideal for use on uneven surfaces. The rubber material also provides a good grip on smooth surfaces, preventing the chair from slipping or sliding around. Rubber wheels are less expensive than pu casters, making them a popular choice in budget-friendly office chairs.

polyurethane wheels vs rubberOn the other hand, polyurethane casters are more durable than rubber casters and have better resistance to wear and tear. Polyurethane is also a denser material than rubber, making it more resistant to compression and deformation. This property makes polyurethane casters more stable than rubber rollers, especially under heavy loads.

In terms of cushioning, both rubber and polyurethane casters offer a higher level of shock absorption, but rubber casters tend to provide better cushioning. However, the level of cushioning needed depends on the user’s preferences and the type of work environment.

For instance, in a busy office with a lot of foot traffic, rubber casters can absorb more shock and prevent the chair from jolting around, making it more comfortable to work for long hours. On the other hand, in a quieter office environment, where the chair’s stability is crucial, pu casters are more appropriate.

Overall, the choice between rubber and pu rollers depends on the user’s specific needs. If cushioning and shock absorption are top priorities, rubber casters are the better option. On the other hand, if stability and durability are the most critical factors, then polyurethane casters are the way to go.

Floor Conditions

Rubber wheels are known for their ability to absorb shock and noise, making them an excellent option for hard surfaces like concrete or tile. However, rubber wheels can leave black marks or scuffs on smooth floorings like laminate, parquet, or wooden floors. It is because rubber tends to pick up and trap debris like dirt, hair, or small rocks that get caught in the treads of the wheels. As a result, when you roll the chair, this debris gets pressed into the floor, causing scratches and marks.

On the other hand, polyurethane wheels are less likely to leave marks or scratches on your flooring. Polyurethane is a synthetic material with a smooth surface, making it more resistant to picking up debris. Polyurethane wheels are softer than rubber and glide smoothly over the floor, making them ideal for hardwood floors and other smooth surfaces. Additionally, polyurethane wheels are durable and have a long lifespan, making them a wise investment for your office chair.

polyurethane vs rubber castersIn conclusion, if you’re looking for wheels for your office chair that won’t leave scratches or marks on your flooring, polyurethane wheels are the better option. Although rubber wheels have their advantages, they tend to trap debris that can cause scratches and marks on your floors. On the other hand, polyurethane wheels have a smooth surface that glides smoothly over the floor, making them gentle on your flooring. They’re also more durable and have a longer lifespan, making them a wise investment in the long run.

Verdict: Polyurethane Wheels vs. Rubber?

When it comes to choosing the right type of wheel for office chairs, two of the most common options are polyurethane and rubber. Both materials have advantages and disadvantages; the choice ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Polyurethane wheels are highly durable and can withstand heavy loads without deforming or cracking. In addition, polyurethane wheels are highly resistant to chemicals, oils, and solvents, which makes them suitable for use in environments where spills and other hazards are common.

On the other hand, rubber wheels are made from natural or synthetic rubber and are known for their excellent grip and traction. They are ideal for smooth or polished surfaces, as they provide high stability and prevent skidding or slipping. Rubber wheels are also highly resistant to impacts and abrasions, which makes them suitable for use in rugged environments.

In terms of comfort, both polyurethane and rubber wheels offer a high degree of cushioning and shock absorption, which helps to reduce fatigue and discomfort during prolonged sitting. However, polyurethane wheels tend to be slightly softer and more pliable, making them more comfortable for some users.

Regarding noise levels, both types of wheels are relatively quiet and produce minimal sound when rolling on hard surfaces. However, rubber wheels tend to be slightly quieter, absorbing more vibrations and dampening sound more effectively.

Ultimately, the choice between polyurethane and rubber wheels comes down to your specific needs and preferences. Polyurethane wheels may be the better choice if you require a high degree of durability and resistance to wear and tear. However, rubber wheels may be the way to go if you need excellent grip and traction on smooth surfaces. Whichever option you choose, choose a reputable supplier that offers high-quality products and reliable customer service.


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