We’ve all been there before. Your office chair has a broken wheel, a squeaky wheel, or a wobbly wheel. Whatever the case might be, it is endlessly annoying for your office chair to be making noise, unable to roll or feel uneven while you sit in it. Remember, your wheels aren’t only for moving, you also balance on them all day, so it’s very important that they’re in good condition.
But getting new ones can be hard. Can you use any old office chair wheels for your chair? In other words, are office chair wheels universal?
No, they are not. While the standard wheel size is 2-2.5”, the actual size of the wheels does not matter. The size of the castors that attach the wheel to the chair is what will determine if a wheel will fit your chair. There are a number of sizes and types of castors, so it is important to know that information before you buy new wheels.
But what other parts of the wheel will make a difference? Can you use old castors on new wheels? Can you change wheel sizes? Read on to find out everything there is to know about whether or not office chair wheels are universal.
What is a castor?
So, it turns out that the wheels of your office chair aren’t the determining factor on whether or not they will fit. It’s actually the castor. But what is an office chair wheel castor?
A castor, or more accurately the castor system, is the part of the wheel that attaches it to the leg of the chair. There are a number of parts of this system, and each of them is important when it comes to determining the fit of your wheels to your chair.
Most castors will use a grip ring style system, which is great because the consistency will mean it is easy to find replacement wheels for your chair. All you need to know is what size and what type of castor system you have, and you’re set to buy new wheels.
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What are the types of castors?
There are a number of different types of castors for office chairs. Make sure you’re buying wheels that have castor systems that match that of your office chair.
Office Castor Grip Neck
This is one of the most common kinds of castor systems. They have a wide base and a thin neck, allowing them to pop into place and not jiggle loose or fall out.
Office Castor Grip Ring
The grip ring system is also extremely common. It can be identified by taking a look at the castor stem, or the long metal rod that is at the top of the castor/wheel. It will have a groove at the top of it, and a steel ring around it as well.
This ring and groove will grip the mechanism in the leg of the office chair, allowing it to stay in place.
Office Castor Threaded System
This system is very intuitive and easy to assemble, and also quite common. Basically, the stem will be threaded similarly to a screw, which will match the threads on the leg of the office chair. Simply screw the wheel on and it is attached.
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In order to replace the wheels of your office chair, you’ll have to follow these steps.
- First, identify the type of wheels that your office chair uses. This can be done by taking the old wheels off and looking at the castor systems. Check above for the different kinds of castor systems and how to identify them!
- Next, measure the original stem of the wheel you are taking off. 7/16” is standard, but there is some variance, so it is good to make sure you’re buying a matching stem so that your wheel and chair will be compatible.
- Lay the chair down on the ground to expose the bottom. Pull the (or in some cases, unscrew) the castor from the chair leg. If this is difficult, you can use a flathead screwdriver to pry them out. Just be careful to avoid bending or breaking any parts of the chair.
- Place the new wheels in. This is different based on what castor system your wheels use.
- If you have grip neck castors, they should pop right into place.
- If you have grip ring castors, you might have to put a little extra effort in. If this is the case, lightly tap the wheel with a hammer or rubber mallet until it pops into place.
- If you have a threaded system, simply screw the wheel into place.
- After the wheels are back on, the chair should be ready to use!
Important things to consider
Here are a number of important things to consider before buying your new office chair wheels!
Consider what kind of flooring you’ll be rolling around on. This will make a difference in what kind of wheel you want to buy. Larger wheels are better for carpeted surfaces, as they will be able to roll more easily. Smaller wheels can be fine for hard surfaces.
- Softer wheels are best on scratchable surfaces, such as hardwood. Soft rubber tires are ideal for any hard surface, as they will make less noise and do no damage to the floor.
- You should also consider how often and for what chair will be used. Chairs that are sat in for very long periods of time daily should be outfitted with high-quality (more expensive) castors. Chairs that are used less frequently can be given cheaper castors.
So, now you know that unfortunately, office chair wheels are not universal. This is because they all have different castor systems that need to match your chair. Once you know the size of your castor stems and the type of castor system you have, it will be easy to match up the wheels you need with your chair.
Just be sure to get some that are good for the type of floor you have and the function of the chair!