Office Chair Casters vs. Glides: What is the difference?
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Office Chair Casters vs. Glides: What is the difference?

|Dec 30, 2020

Office chair casters and glides are two adjustments you can make to your office chair that will improve its performance depending on the conditions of your workplace. Learn the key differences between them to find out which one might be best for you.

When shopping around for an office chair, you may be wondering which type to buy. Leather or mesh? With arms or without? Black or brightly colored? All these options depend on personal preference. But what about the technical details? Perhaps you have seen the words ‘casters’ or ‘glides’ across product description pages, and maybe you don’t understand what they’re. In this article, we’ll dive into the two features and how they will affect your decisions when buying office chairs.

What Are Casters?

A caster is a small wheel that is fastened at the bottom of the chair’s legs to enhance movement across the floor. Casters are perfect for small and lightweight chairs, such as a conference or task chairs.

The casters commonly used on these types of chairs are free-wheeling casters. These casters allow chairs to continue moving even when weight is applied to them. Also, they allow chairs to move around a short distance while you’re seated.

Often, free-wheeling casters have a swivel feature. This feature enables the chair to move effortlessly in all directions. Buying an office chair with free-wheeling casters allows you to enjoy mobility from your seat to collaborate with your colleagues. Office chairs with free-wheeling casters also allow you to adjust your position while working.

Another common type of casters is the charge-braked casters. These casters allow the chair’s wheel to roll until the weight is applied. After the weight is applied to the chair, the wheels lock and act as a glide until you remove the weight.

Interval-braked casters, on the other hand, provide a slight brake always. So, they act as a safety feature, preventing your office chair from rolling when not in use. An office chair that has interval-braked casters requires more force to move around than an office chair with free-wheeling casters.

When Should I Choose Casters?

If you need to move your office chair regularly, then you should choose one with casters. However, if you buy an office chair with casters, you must also consider your office flooring. For example, nylon casters are often perfect for carpeted floors, whereas urethane casters are ideal for hard surfaces, such as tile or wood flooring.

What are Glides?


Repairing damaged floors is time-consuming and expensive. You can avoid damaging your floors by equipping less frequently moved office furniture with glides. A glide is a small disc attached at the bottom of the furniture’s legs. It allows furniture, such as office chairs, to slide over floors with some force.

Glides are very versatile and they’re available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials to suit different conditions and needs. For instance, felt glides let office chairs move smoothly and quietly across surfaces and are suitable for hardwood flooring.

Nylon or plastic glides are perfect for carpeted or tile flooring. This is because harder materials, such as nylon or plastic, don’t snag on carpeting or between tiles and become damaged. 

Using a simple installation process, you can easily replace glides that have become damaged over time with no need for a specialist or technician. Just remove old glides and fasten new ones onto the bottom of your office chair’s legs with a small nail or industrial strength glue, depending on the material of both the chair and glide.

When Should I Go for Glides?

Glides are made from plastic or metal, so they’re suitable for larger office furniture, which is moved infrequently. For instance, glides are a perfect choice for lounge-style seating or heavier chairs. Glides enable the furniture to move across surfaces easily when needed, and they protect flooring from scratches and dents.

How to Measure Office Chairs Casters?

How to measure office chairs casters

If you have an existing wheel, you’re lucky because there are four measurements you need to replace the wheel caster. You can replace your casters using the wheel width, wheel diameter, bore diameter, or hub length method.

Wheel Diameter

Measure the crossway distance the wheel takes. Sometimes, you may find your office chair wheel has the length and width molded or stamped onto it, so all you need is to check.

However, if not, measure crossways, and remember wear and tear can cause up to half an inch loss in the material. Thus, you must round up the measurements to the nearest half-inch.

You can do this using a tape measure because wheel sizes are standard.

Bore Diameter

Measure the interior size, and you may need the scope for the caster wheel to fit the axle correctly. First, look at the end-to-end of the wheel, and then measure crossways on the inner side of the opening in the middle of the caster wheel where the axis passes through.

This measurement is more precise than measuring the wheel diameter. Here you can use a caliper or a micrometer to measure. However, if you don’t any of these tools, use a drill bit until you find one that matches the inner side of the drag.

Wheel Width

The wheel width is the widest part of the tread. Although this measurement isn’t as critical as the length of the hub, it helps locate a similar wheel. You can measure the wheel width using a measuring tape.

The Length of the Hub

Measure this dimension by measuring the distance from either side of the caster wheel through the drag. With accurate length, the wheel fits flanked by forks with marginal play. Measuring the length of the hub is more crucial than measuring the wheel width. This is because this measurement defines if the best office chair caster wheel fits the frame. But the wheel width doesn’t specify if the caster will fit the caster fork.

To take this measurement, you need a pencil with a piece of rod to pass through the drag. Hold one end of the rod evenly on one side of the drag and mark the side with a pencil. Now, remove the rod and measure from the uniform finish to the marked point.

The measurements above can help you find the right caster and replace the old one. 

Final Thoughts

Knowing the differences, advantages, and applications of any office furniture play a crucial in deciding which components are suitable for your office space. Making the right choice between casters and glides is a simple, inexpensive solution to maximizing the comfort and functionality of your office space, while simultaneously protecting the condition of both your flooring and furniture.

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