Are Office Chair Wheels Universal? [A Detailed Analysis]

If your office chair wheels leave behind scratches and scuffs on your flooring, it is time to replace the wheels. Let us say you’re thinking of removing and replacing the caster wheels. The question then is -are office chair wheels universal? 

Well, long answer short, after thorough research, we found that yes, almost 95% of the office chairs are universal, having a standard stem size. However, there always remains a 5% exception in wheels of the office chairs having different stem sizes.

Most of you might notice the five wheels attached to the star chair base having five legs. Have you ever wondered why most office chairs have five casters or wheels? Physics tells us that an office chair with four wheels will be less likely to tip over than one with five. Additionally, five casters or wheels lessens the chair breakage, making it strong.

While the wheels provide balance and strength to the chair, it is damaging your carpet, hardwood, or any other flooring at the same time. If you notice minor scratches and black scuff marks on your floors, it is due to your rolling office chairs. 

Fortunately, you can easily remove and replace the office chair wheels at your home. With the correct measurement and wheel size, you can change them at your home. As we know, chair wheels are almost universal. Now, let us get into the specifics and understand it in detail through this article. 

Office chair wheels: Explained

Before getting into the specifics, let us familiarize ourselves with the office chair wheels, types, sizes, and shapes. 

Office chair wheels, also known as castors/casters, are wheeled devices that attach to the bottom of each chair leg to enable the chair to move and roll easily. To be precise, casters are a pair of wheels and frames that work together to pivot. As a result, they provide increased mobility, making them a better option for people to move the chair on the floor without picking it up. 

Did you know?

Charles Darwin is known to have been the first person ever to put wheels on an office chair during the early 1840s. Rolling around the room made it easier to examine different specimens quickly in his office. Since rolling chairs made study easy, it became the inspiration behind the invention of rolling wheels onto an office chair for Darwin.

Parts of the wheels

When it comes to parts of the office chair wheels, there are three different parts. Those are:

The mount 

The mount in a caster wheel is the part that mounts to the base of the chair leg, which holds and secures the caster. Based on your chair base, the mount of a chair caster comes in two different styles -The stem mount and the plate mount.

The Stem-Mount Casters
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Speaking of stem-mount, they have a single rod-like stem extending from the center of the raceway for securing the caster to different objects. Generally, the design of the stem-mount casters is for light-duty purposes like furniture or medical apparatus.

Besides, they can be mounted using three different methods. 

  1. Hair caster stems have threaded rods screw into the cart and secure it.
  2. The hollow kingpin casters in the stem slide over a stud and mount it. 
  3. You can get press-fit stems, which pop into the place and secures the casters and cart with each other. 
The plate-mount casters
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Unlike stem-mount, the plate mount offers a more sturdy option, making it more suitable for heavy-duty purposes. They feature a flat square plate with holes corresponding to the mounting pattern seen on carts and fixtures. For securing the caster having plate-mount, line it up to the mounting, and attach it with bolts with the help of the bolt holes present. Plate-mount can also weld to the cart without the bolt holes.

The wheel 

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Some materials used to make the caster wheels of office chairs are elastomers, glass, leather, plastic, iron, aluminum, stainless steel, rubber, and nylon. Nylon carpet casters are more common. However, soft wheel casters are usually the standard for linoleum and hard surfaces like carpets. Locking rubber casters are more useful in stools for preventing tipping over.

The wheels function such that despite being loaded, they continue to move. It allows the user to move the chair around small distances without standing up. In addition, wheels can sometimes are shaped like balls that can roll in any direction. While most office chairs are plastic, heavy-duty casters are usually metal. As we know, the chair base comes with a five-point starbase to increase mobility and stability. 

Quick information The National Institutes of Health say that one should use a chair having casters and a five-star base for easy movement and less tipping and falling. 

The stem 

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The standard castor size often ranges from 2 to 2.5 inches. However, the style of the caster stem determines whether the wheels pop into the chair legs or not. The majority of office chair castors will have a grip ring-type stem.

Now, there exist three main categories in castor stem styles for rolling office chairs. 

  • Grip-neck style –This stem has a broad base and a thin head.
  • Grip-ring style –It is a standard style in office chairs. This style has a groove at the top covered with a split ring made of steel. 
  • Threaded style -The threaded stem appears and works like a screw. It twists into the socket and is reinforced with nuts and washers.

There can be additional parts based on the use, design, and type of caster wheels. 

Are office chairs universal?

The caster wheels on office chairs are universal since almost all modern chairs have the same stem diameter (11mm width by 22mm height), except for the IKEA chair. The remaining 5% have a stem with a threaded connection having a standard size of 10 mm width by 20 mm height. 

For instance, imagine you have a modern office chair. In this case, your office chair caster stems will have a universal standard diameter size. You also have caster wheels with two caster options -double and single. Single-wheel casters are easy to get and have many options to choose from. Meanwhile, there are only a limited number of design options available for double-wheel casters.

Because a single-wheeled caster has less friction while rolling, it should be easier to roll than a double-wheeled caster. On the other hand, a double wheel caster distributes body weight effectively. Single wheel caster wheels, however, can lift heavier loads. 

Interesting Fact: 

Moving around large and heavy items using wheels existed right from the ancient civilization. Later in 1876, David A. Fisher was the person to first apply for a patent for furniture casters. His invention was a caster for office furniture having the caster wheel with its shank or spindle, which would not easily fall out from its socket.  

Besides, office chair wheels are available in various sizes and shapes. As far as the wheel size is concerned, standard wheel sizes are 2″, 2.5″, and 3″. Every caster wheel has the same function -the size of the wheel does not matter. However, you should always check the size and stem of a chair wheel before buying it for your office chair. 

Even though you somehow end up buying the wrong wheels for your chairs. No need to worry; you can always replace them with better ones. 

Can you replace chair wheels?

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Yes, you can remove and replace your office chair wheels at your home. Replacing office chair wheels requires a flat-head screwdriver, an old blanket, and the chair. 

To remove, 

  • Place an old blanket on the floor or your workbench. 
  • Keep your chair upside down or sideways at the corner of the table. 
  • Now, start to pull out the wheels. The wheels just popped into the chair leg. Hence, it should pop out when pulled. 
  • Try taking out the wheels using a flat-head screwdriver if they are stuck. Now, pull out the wheels. It may require some force and strength. 

To replace, 

  • Once the wheels are pulled out, take your new wheels and pop them into the hole of the chair leg.
  • Apply force if needed, and stick them inside until you hear a CLICK sound confirming that the wheels are secure.

However, before buying new replacements, you should consider the following points. 

  • The accurate measurements of the stem of your office chair wheels.
  • The flooring type your workspace or home possesses.
  • The usage of your office chairs. 
  • The materials of the chair casters.

Bottomline

Is it safe to say that office chair wheels are universal? Yes, they are, but only 95 percent of the time. As a result, before purchasing replacement wheels for your office chair, you should analyze their differences.

There are no significant issues with color and size, particularly with height-adjustable chair casters. Nevertheless, factors such as stem type, floor-type compatibility, and weight capacity need to be considered.

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