Imagine this…a wheel of your favorite office chair has broken down. You need to replace the wheel and don’t know where to start…A lot of options and they all kind of looks different. You probably might be wondering “are office chair caster universal?” If so, we have provided an answer to this exact question.
Are office chair casters universal?
No, office chair casters are not universal. While most office chair comes with a standard 2″ to 2.5″ wheels, there are office chair casters that are of 3″ size. However, the stem of most of these casters is of size 7/16″ X 7/8″ inches with the only exception of IKEA chairs. They have their own sizes and do not support the more standard casters.
If you want to know more about casters and their interchangeability, please read on…
Are office chair casters interchangeable?
Yes, office chair casters are interchangeable. Since most of the office chair wheels will have similar specifications, they can be interchanged.
However, if you are trying to interchange the wheels, here are some of the things that you should keep in mind.
Type of the caster
If you are using an office chair, most often than not, you will be using softwood casters. So, while interchanging one wheel with the other, make sure that both are of a similar type.
Size of the caster
This is one of the most important criteria for interchangeability. If the sizes of the wheels that you are trying to interchange don’t match, then fixing them up on the same chair will create an unbalanced chair.
This will interfere with correct posture positioning and you may have to deal with unnecessary posture-related pain and sufferings.
Size of the stem
For office casters also, there will be three types of stems that are available.
These types of stems have a groove at the top of the stem. that is covered with a split steel ring.
This type of stem has a wider base and a narrower head. This narrower head lets the stem get inside the socket. The wider part of the stem secures the wheel in place.
This is a caster wheel that requires you to screw it on to the base.
Can you replace office chair wheels?
Yes, you can easily replace n office chair wheel. Also, this is a more inexpensive way rather than replacing the whole chair. A good caster wheel will cost you somewhere in the range of $20-$30. Whereas a decent chair will cost you at least $150. So, it is a better option to replace a wheel rather than to replace the chair. Here are the steps if you have a grip type caster:
- You can try to pull it out with your hands.
- If it gets stuck, then you need to apply some pressure between the wheel and the chair base. This will pop out the wheel.
- Now take the new wheel, insert its stem into the empty socket, and apply some pressure to secure it.
The steps will be a little different for a threaded stem wheel. For this one, first, you will have to unscrew the broken wheel from the chair base. Then re-screw the new wheel there and you are done. This video will help to explain these steps easily:
How do I know what size casters I need?
To know the size of the casters that you would need, use the following measurement techniques:
There are mainly three things that you need to measure for a caster wheel.
- The size of the stem
- The length of the stem
- The size of the wheel
Size of the stem
You can measure it in two ways.
Use a measuring tape
Place the tape horizontally, across the stem, and note the measurement. You can then measure match it with the new one that you will be purchasing.
Use a Vernier Caliper
Unscrew the knob of the Caliper to loosen its jaw.
Insert the stem vertically into the jaw.
Start tightening the Caliper screw till the lower jaw touches the stem.
Check the measurements to match it with the new wheel.
You can use a digital or a manual one. Digital one is easier as it will provide you with the most accurate measurement.
Length of the stem
The length of the stem can also be measured using the above method. Make sure that you take the measurements properly.
If you miss doing it, then your caster wheel may not fit the chair properly.
This may not seem a big deal until you have to deal with an IKEA chair where the caster sizes are not standard.
The size of the wheel
Here also both the Caliper and measuring tape method works.
However, if you are measuring the wheels, then take the measurement of the diameter. This way, your chances of ending up with wrong measurements will be minimal as this is the standard way in which a disc or a circle is measured.
What are the types of casters?
A mentioned above there are mainly two types of casters:
These are the casters that are most commonly available and you see them in your everyday life.
They are the ones that you see in your home office chairs or office chairs.
They work properly on the carpet and doesn’t leave a mark.
Also, they are typically made from plastic or other similar material.
I’ve found them to be the least durable and they fall apart quite easily.
These are the casters that you will see being used on hard floors.
The outer rin has a softer material so that it doesn’t mark your hardwood.
Also, there are two types of hardwood casters:
These are in the shape of wheels and are widely present in office chairs.
Ball-shaped casters are lesser used nowadays but none the less, they are still existent.
How to measure casters?
You can use the above steps of how to find out the size of the caster wheels.
If you are confused, use the below video to follow the steps to measure the caster specs:
Larzelere, Michael Louis. “Chair with ball-casters.” U.S. Patent No. 9,211,015. 15 Dec. 2015. Carlson, E. A. (1969). U.S. Patent No. 3,452,386. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Chiang, Peter, Tally Yuan, John Gusdorf, and Fred D. Oberhaus. “Universal bracket for caster attachment to wire fabricated components.” U.S. Patent 5,934,639, issued August 10, 1999.