If you’re in the market for a new office chair, you probably already know that no two models are the same. Each chair is unique and features a combination of various functions, which suit different applications.
If you’re suffering from head, neck, and shoulder pain, you may pick a high-back office chair over a mid-back one. If you prefer a more breathable backrest that allows for proper airflow, you can purchase a mesh office chair rather than one with a cushioned or padded back.
If you don’t know much about office chairs, though, you can easily overlook other details, including whether castors or glides are better for your chair. Understanding the differences between the two can help you decide which one will provide more comfort and flexibility and suit your office best.
Glides and casters impact the design and the movement of a chair, and each one has its pros and cons. In this article, we will be comparing glides vs. casters for office chairs.
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What are Glides?
Glides or gliders are small discs attached under your chair’s legs to give them some mobility. A glide is often made of plastic, metal, or felt, which can affect the maintenance of your office floor.
Glides come in different materials, shapes, and sizes that suit a variety of conditions and needs. Felt glides allow chairs to move quietly and smoothly and are best for hardwood flooring, while nylon and plastic glides are suitable for carpeted or tile flooring.
Metal glides are durable and best for cement flooring.
Glides are best suitable for lounge-style seating or heavier chairs.
What are Casters?
Casters are small wheels that are usually attached to the bottom of large objects to provide mobility. David A. Fisher, the man who first patented casters in 1876, initially designed them for furniture, but nowadays, you will see casters in other objects such as grocery shopping carts.
Casters are best suited for small and lightweight chairs.
Types of Casters
There are many types of casters, and here are some of the most common ones:
- Free-wheeling casters
Free-wheeling casters are the type most commonly used in office chairs. They continue to move even when you apply weight to them, allowing the chair to move around in short distances.
- Charge-braked casters
Charge-braked casters lock the chair in place when you apply weight to them. They roll when you remove the pressure but not as smoothly as free-wheeling casters.
- Interval-braked casters
Interval-braked casters provide a slight brake and require a little force to move the chair. They are helpful when you want to prevent furniture from slipping away when not in use.
Glides vs. Casters: Side-by-Side Comparison
When choosing whether to buy an office chair with glides or casters, you must consider your home or office flooring. While various casters work for different surfaces, glides are generally more floor-friendly as they enable furniture pieces to glide when needed while protecting the floor from dents and scratches.
Another factor to consider when choosing between glides and casters is whether you need mobility or stability in an office chair.
Glides provide stability by ensuring that the furniture they are attached to doesn’t easily slide or roll on a surface. Glides are an excellent option for when you don’t move a lot in your chair while working.
However, if you require an office chair that you will frequently move while tasking, electing to use one equipped with casters might be better, casters usually have 360-degree rotation, which allows them to move in any direction.
Free-wheeling casters, for instance, let you slide across a surface easily without having to use much force. They enable office workers to enjoy a reasonable degree of mobility that allows them to collaborate with colleagues without standing up.
Installation and Replacement
Both glides and casters are easily replaceable, but glides require lesser muscle effort. While you can install and replace casters without getting help, some casters are tricky, and you will often need a tool such as a flat-head screwdriver.
Glides are much easier to work with, and you can usually push them in or pull them out of a chair’s legs without any help from a specialist or technician.
For tips on how to install and replace glides and casters, watch these videos:
If you are looking for customizability, then casters are a better option.
Depending on your application requirements, you can choose from various castor types, such as ball, wheel, and leveling castors. Different castors also suit different applications with swivel, locking, and braking options.
On the other hand, glides have lesser customizability but are often available in different materials, such as felt, metal, and plastic.
Castors also have various weight classifications. Light-duty casters can hold loads that weigh up to 500 pounds while medium-duty ones typically can carry up to 2,000 pounds.
Heavy-duty castors can support weights of over 2,000 pounds.
Glides also have varying weight capacities. Most light-duty glides can hold up to 40 pounds, medium up to 500 pounds, and heavy-duty glides up to 1,500 pounds and over.
While casters typically create noise when moving, glides make much less sound.
Felt glides have sound-dampening characteristics while metal ones are best for old hardwood parquets. Plastic glides tend to produce noise but not as much as casters do.
Below is a summary of the significant differences between glides and casters:
|Use Case (Floor protection)||Protects floors from scratches, scuffs, or marks||Different casters suit different floors or surfaces. Less scratch protection compared to glides.|
|Use Case (Mobility)||Enables office chairs to move when needed but doesn’t offer much mobility.||Best choice for people who frequently move around with their office chairs while working.|
|Use Case (Stability)||Provide more stability than casters.||Less stable than glides, but some casters lock office chairs in place when weight is applied.|
|Installation and Replaceable||Easier to install and replace than casters||Some casters require a bit of muscle effort to install and replace.|
|Customizability||Not very customizable||Highly customizable|
|Weight Capacity||40 to over 1,500 pounds||500 to over 2,000 pounds|
|Noise||Typically creates much less noise than casters, especially felt glides||Creates noise when moving|
Now that you know the differences between glides and casters for office chairs, you can make an informed decision on which type is more suitable for your application and office space.
Choosing the right one is a simple yet efficient solution to maximizing your office chair’s functionality and space.
And at the same time, you’re protecting your flooring and furniture.
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.