Knowing the different types of office chair casters is going to be helpful in your search for the most comfortable office chair.
There are many types of casters and they vary in size, type, attachment style, and use. The most popular caster types are the rollerblade wheels that can be used for different types of floors from hardwood to carpet.
Knowing these caster types will help you identify which set of wheels will be best for your floors and the kind of wheels you prefer.
In this post, we’ll go over the 5 types of casters (5:11-6:19) and identify the pros and cons of choosing them.
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Soft casters (sometimes called hard-surface casters) are soft-wheeled office chair wheels that are best used on hard surfaces. They use rubber, polyurethane, or less rigid plastic materials on the wheels.
You might be thinking about why soft casters work on hard surfaces like hardwood and cement. This is mainly because the material will have less friction on the floor’s surface.
One of the most common designs of soft casters is rollerblade wheels. Rollerblade wheels are a unique type of caster because it’s ideal for both hardwood and carpeted floors.
The polyurethane or rubber material used on rollerblade wheels provides a soft cushion that allows them to easily roll over hardwood floors. They’re called soft casters because they’re not as hard as nylon casters.
The advantages of using soft casters on hardwood floors are many. For one, these office chair wheels won’t leave dents on the tiles and hardwood flooring.
Another advantage is the ease of movement. Since the wheels are less rigid, they tend to glide more smoothly on the surface.
However, the disadvantage of soft casters is that they’re not ideal for thick and fluffy carpets. Precisely because they’re not rigid, the wheels can be caught under the thickness of your carpet.
Hard casters (or carpet casters) are office chair wheels that are made of plastic or nylon and are often in a twin-wheel design. They are ideal for carpets and other types of thick flooring.
The twin-wheel design of hard casters is intentional because the wheels help in easily passing through the thickness of a carpet. It provides more surface area that will combat the increased friction coming from the material used on the carpet.
What’s great about hard casters is that they can easily change directions. Because the two wheels are connected by an axle, the wheels can effortlessly rotate 360 degrees.
Moreover, hard casters have very durable wheels, thanks to the hard nylon being used on the wheels themselves.
Another advantage? It balances the chair and your weight because the wheels have a larger surface area to spread the weight around.
Of course, hard casters have their issues too. Unlike soft casters, hard casters can’t be used on all types of floors.
It’s specifically made for carpet floors and nothing else.
Moreover, the twin-wheel design is more high-maintenance than single-wheel designs. Because there are more moving parts, the chances of dust, hair, and fur getting stuck in between those parts are high.
Top Plate Casters
Top plate casters, also known as mounting plate casters, use screws to attach them to the end of your office chair’s legs.
Most top plate casters use small screws and bolts to attach them to the chair’s legs. The screws won’t be an issue because they’re often included in the caster set.
This type of office chair wheel isn’t that common because you have to find office chairs that have wide legs in order to fit the top plate. In effect, this type of caster can limit the office chair options for you.
Moreover, top plate casters usually have twin wheels attached to them. And as we’ve read above, twin-wheels are only best for carpeted floors.
That’s the biggest disadvantage of top plate casters aside from the fact that you need to use screws to attach the casters to the office chair instead of just popping it in as with stem casters.
Nonetheless, top plate casters can easily change their wheels’ direction because there’s less friction on the caster’s stem.
Another alternative office chair wheel is the stem caster. Stem casters have a stem attachment on top of the wheels that you just push into the office chair’s legs.
Just like the hard and soft casters, stem casters are very popular since it’s a universal design. It’s even more popular today than the top plate casters.
What makes stem casters an ideal choice for your office chair wheels is the easy attachment it does with your chair. To attach it, you just push the wheel into the office chair’s legs.
You don’t need tools for this one. To add to that, the stem casters are secure once they’re pushed properly, so you don’t have to worry about them falling off.
And unlike the top plate caster, stem casters can have soft casters or hard casters attached to them. This means that there’s a stem caster for any type of flooring that you have.
The only disadvantage of stem casters shows when you need to remove them. While you can pull out these office chair wheels, it’s not always easy to do so. You’ll have to use a flathead screwdriver.
Reverse-locking casters are the most unique office chair casters because they have a locking mechanism that activates when weight is put on the chair.
This type of office chair wheel is often found with a twin-wheel design. How these casters work is that they freely move when there’s no weight on the chair, but once you sit on them, the wheels lock in place.
There are several pros and cons to this kind of mechanism. The most common advantage is that you won’t be rolling across the room when you sit on your office chair.
Most reverse-locking casters use rollerblade wheels, so they can be used on any type of flooring. Even if you’re just buying the brake and attachment, reverse-locking mechanisms are made to fit rollerblade wheels instead of twin wheels.
However, this advantage can easily turn into a disadvantage when you want to roll to a nearby area in your office. With reverse-locking casters, you can’t roll that easily and you’ll most likely end up standing to get to whatever it is you need to.
There are many types of casters to choose from and knowing these types will help you customize your office chair to give the most comfortable experience.
The best way to know which type of caster is for you is to know what kind of flooring you’re using them on and the level of mobility you want.
That way, you avoid buying the wrong casters that might damage your floors or affect the way you work.