What is a Caster Wheel? Gaming Chair Wheels

Whether office or gaming chairs, most chairs out of the box are fitted with standard caster wheels. But what is the best caster wheel? After all the wheels of a chair are important to protect your floor as well as increase workspace ergonomics. So there is always a better set of caster wheels you could fit onto your chair. But which caster wheels are the best for which floor?

What is a caster wheel?

Gaming chairs and office chairs are fitted with “swivel castor wheels”. Those wheels align themselves in the desired direction of movement. If you push an office chair in a different direction, first the caster wheel swivels around its vertical axis before the wheel spins around its horizontal axis, and the chair rolls into the desired direction.

This design has the advantage that the chair when in motion, will stay on track in the desired direction without rolling away sideways.

what is a caster wheel

How do swivel caster wheels work?

Chair swivel casters usually consist of one or two rollers that turn around an axis that is horizontal to the ground. Another axis that is vertical to the ground lets the rollers swivel when the direction of the chair is changed.

Crucial for the proper function of caster wheels is that the roller’s rotation axis does not intersect with the vertical swivel axis. This distance between the two axels will cause the rollers to be dragged behind the vertical axis.

If the chair is pushed into a direction that does not correspond to the momentary orientation of the rollers, the wheel will first swivel around the vertical axis of rotation in the new direction until the wheels turn horizontal and the chair rolls over the floor.

What are “locking caster wheels”?

Some office chairs are fitted with locking caster wheels.

These wheels have a “break” built-in, which is automatically activated when the office chair is unused. It prevents the chair from moving out of place unintentionally or accidentally when sitting down. The braking effect is canceled when a person sits down at puts weight onto the chair.

What is the difference between hard floor and soft floor casters?

There is a simple rule what caster is best depending on what floor your chair should roll on:

  • Hard floor (tile, parquet, laminate, concrete)  = soft rolls
  • Soft floor (carpet, rugs, mat) = hard rolls

Hard floors include concrete, tiles as well a laminate wood or parquet floors. Chair castors for hard floors are called hard floor casters (HFC). They have a core of hard plastic coated by a soft shell, such as a rubber or a soft Polyurethane plastic. Hard floor casters let the chair roll smooth and quiet on the ground. The softshell also compensates for uneven floors.

The opposite of hard floors is the so-called soft floors. Carpet, rugs or needle felt are considered soft floors. For those grounds, soft floor casters (SFC) that are made of hard plastic or with a hard plastic shell are used. They will provide an unrestrained rolling action even when the chair rollers sink into the floor.

How to remove caster wheels from chair?

Gamers may get excited during a gaming session and push the chair around jump up or throw themselves back into the chair. This exposes gaming chair caster wheels to considerable mechanical strain and load. So even the best chair casters may wear out or simply break.

Another reason to remove caster wheels from a chair and replace them is considering the floor. An expensive wood floor needs protection. This can be achieved with a floor protection mat or with special hard floor caster wheels.

How to remove caster wheels from a chair and change them for new ones is easy as the wheels are usually just pushed into the chair base. Simply lay the chair on its side and pull the caster wheels out.

If the caster is stuck, spray the stem with a creeping oil such as WD40 to help loosen it. If the stem is really stuck in the base, use a pair of longnose pliers to pull it out.

… and then simply push the new caster wheels into the chair base!
what is a caster wheel

When ordering new caster wheels pay attention to the diameter of the stem pin

Even nearly all chairs use a standard caster wheel stem size, you may want to check for compatibility. Simply pull the old wheels out and measure the stem diameter and length.

Nearly all gaming and office chairs use a standard stem size of 11mm or  (7/16″) diameter by 22mm (7/8″) length.

How much do caster wheels cost?

Good caster wheels for chairs that protect your floor from scratches are definitely cheaper than fixing a damaged floor.  You also want to make sure that you choose wheels with a hight weight rating.  However, even the best caster wheels can be bought for only around 30 dollars.

Should I buy genuine wheels from the manufacturer?

Reputable manufacturers may have their own design wheels and also pay attention to the processing quality of their chair casters. When the chair is still in warranty then you want to contact the manufacturer for a replacement.

If there is no warranty anymore, it can be faster and cheaper to order quality wheels and other spare parts online.

Be aware when replacing caster wheels in an office work environment that you may need to follow occupational health and safety regulations.

Keeping chair casters clean

As a result of constant use and rolling on the floor all day, dirt, dust, hair and other fuzz will collect in the axle of the castors over time. Occasional cleaning of the chair’s castor wheels will aid proper function and can prolong the lifetime of the rollers.

You should also regularly clean the tread of the chair casters. It usually does not take long until particles settle in the tread which, in certain floors, e.g. Hardwood or laminate can scratch or damage the surface and lead to expensive floor repairs.