Are All Office Chair Casters and Wheels Universal?
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When the wheels of your office chair break or become faulty, your first instinct is to buy a new office chair. However, you can easily replace them with new caster wheels. Not only are they simple to install, but they cost much less than buying a new office chair. But are all office chair casters and wheels universal?
Not all office chair casters and wheels are universal. While some brands claim that their caster wheels are universal, they fit about 95% of office chairs. When considering replacing your office chair casters, you will need to match the stem and wheel of your current casters with the new replacement casters.
Additionally, a caster comes in many different types and is made of different parts. Understanding them can help you choose the best caster replacement for your office chair, while saving you a lot of money too. In this post, we will explore whether all office chair casters are the same or not.
What Are Office Chair Casters?
A caster is a wheeled device that is installed to the bottom of an office chair’s base, which often has five legs. The wheels allow the user to move around easily while sitting in the chair. Generally, there are three basic components of a caster which include the mount, the stem, and the wheel.
Important Parts of a Caster
1. The Wheel
The wheel is responsible for making your office chair move around. It can be made of plastic, elastomers, nylon, or steel. Newer and innovative products encase the wheels with polyurethane that not only help prevent scratches on the floor, but provide a satisfying roll and glide to the user.
In some cases, the wheel is actually a ball that can roll in any direction, but it is very rare.
2. The Hood
Older versions of office chair casters feature a hood that acts as a fender to prevent dirt and debris from the casters as they roll. It may look useful, but it does not do much in terms of making the caster roll smoothly. In fact, hair and gunk can often get stuck inside so you need to clean it frequently.
3. The Stem
The stem is used to attach the wheel to the office chair’s base. It is inserted into the chair leg and into a housing that helps keep it securely in place. There are three different types of caster stem styles, with a grip ring caster stem being the most common. Below is each type explained in greater detail.
Different Types of Caster Stem Styles:
1. Grip Ring Caster Stem
A grip ring caster stem is a type of caster that has a stem with a groove at the top that is covered with a split steel ring, known as the grip ring. Most office chair casters will use a grip ring style stem, which is very easy to install. It secures to the chair base very well because of the tension created by the ring.
2. Grip Neck Caster Stem
A grip neck caster stem has a wide base and a narrow head. At first glance, the stem resembles a thick radio antenna. The lower section of the stem is wider than the upper part, allowing the stem to lock its entire body with the chair base. You will only see a handful of office chairs using this type of caster stem.
3. Threaded Stem Caster Stem
A threaded stem is basically a screw that can be threaded into the socket. It twists into the socket and can be strengthened with nuts and washers. While threaded stems are very secure, you will rarely see this type of caster stem since the application is not as simple as grip ring caster stems.
Are All Office Chair Casters and Wheels Universal?
Unfortunately, not all office chair casters are universal. Sure, there are office chair casters labeled “universal”, but they fit only about 95% of all office chairs. When considering replacing your office chair casters, you need to match the stem type of the current caster with the replacement caster stem type.
How to Measure Your Caster Stem and Wheel
Measuring the Wheels
Office chair caster wheels are sized by the diameter. If you want to match your current office chair wheel size with the new one, you can use a ruler to measure the diameter. However, you can replace them with bigger or smaller wheels. Bigger wheels will increase the height of the office chair, and vice versa.
Measuring the Caster Stems
There’s a huge chance that your office chair has a grip ring caster stem. However, your new chair caster stems need to match your current casters. Otherwise, you won't be able to attach the casters to your office chair. To measure your office chair’s caster stems, first remove them from the chair’s base.
Most stem size is 7/16" diameter by 7/8" length. This is the standard size of most office chair caster stems. Some compatible brands include: Herman Miller Aeron, Steelcase, DXracer, Humanscale Freedom, Lazyboy Serta, Hon, Boss, and more. To check compatibility, pull out your current chair wheels and measure the stem.
Choose Replacement Casters That Are Floor-Safe
Once you know your office chair’s wheel and caster stem size, you can choose the best replacement casters.
If you are considering replacing your office chair caster wheels, we recommend a product that is safe for all flooring types. Some caster wheels can damage carpet, so it’s important to use wheels encased with polyurethane (similar to roller blade wheels) that will not scratch hardwood, tile, and carpet.
We’ve found one product that won’t leave scratches on your floors and comes in a near-universal standard size that can be used as replacement wheels for most office chairs. Simply pull your old wheels out and pop these in. The best part is, they are so smooth so you can move around freely in your office chair.
Now you know whether office chair casters and wheels are universal or not. Most office chair casters are equipped with grip ring caster stems which enable them to be attached to the base of an office chair without the use of any tools. If you want to replace the wheels, make sure they are safe for all types of flooring.