Hard VS Soft Casters, 3 Common Types of Office Chair Wheels

Knowing which two types of casters is on your office chair may save you from damaging your floor. Is it either soft nylon or hard plastic wheel? We got answers!


Office Chair Wheels, Soft VS Hard Caster?

Why Do Chairs Have Wheels?

How To Identify Which Caster I’m Rolling On?

The Best Use Case For Each Type of Caster?

Soft Caster
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Glides Across Hard Wood Floors
132 lbs. Weight Capacity Per Wheel
Feature Rich
Wheels Glow In The Dark
Chromed Out
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Rolls Best On Chair Mat
75 lbs. Weight Capacity Per Wheel
Feature Rich
Vintage Appeal
Hard Caster
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Glides Across Hard & Soft Floors
110 lbs. Weight Capacity Per Wheel
Feature Rich
Less Squeeky

what are the differences in types of office chair wheel casters?

Soft Caster

Soft casters are kinda like a roller skate wheel & softer than hard plastic casters. They design these types of chair wheels to roll best on hardwood flooring or tile.

These wheels are most likely made of rubber or polyurethane to minimize slides and scrapes on hard surfaces.

Soft Caster | ChairPickr

Hard casters work better with carpet and rugs. They are commonly available nylon twin casters and covered by a plastic shell to make rolling on a thick carpet floor easier to move on softer surfaces.

One unique feature of these types of wheels is that it can lock them in place so your chair is stationary.

Soft Casters Best:

  • Hardwood Floors
  • Tile or Patio
  • Hard Plastic Chair Mats

Hard Casters Best:

  • Carpet Floors
  • Rugs
  • Soft Chair Mats

To put it simply, for stability and mobility.

Four wheels can support an office chair, but it does not provide enough mobility or structural integrity.

  • Five wheels offer a better support and the sitter can move the office chair in any direction.
  • The first office chair equipped with casters was invented by a famous scientist to be more mobile while working in their lab.
Office Chair Casters
Eduard Manet 1867, CC0 Public Domain Designation

How to identify which Wheels are on your ergonomic office chair?​

So how can I tell if my caster is a softer rubber/polyurethane or a harder nylon?

Grab a ballpoint pen and try to dent it of course! Using a bit of ‘umph’ try pushing the tip of a ballpoint pen into the surface of the wheel to your office chair

A simple way to find out if your office chair uses either soft or hard casters?

Grab a ballpoint pen and try to dent it, of course! Try pushing the tip of a ballpoint pen into the surface of the wheel of your office chair.

If the caster dents, it’s a soft caster which means it’s probably made of rubber or polyurethane.

If your caster does not dent, then it’s probably a hard caster. Which means it is most likely made of nylon.

If the wheel looks like one solid piece, it is another indicator of being made of nylon and hence a hard caster.

Yes, most casters have a stem size of 7/16" x 7/8" inches.

One caveat to this is universal spec is that IKEA chairs have their own sizes and are done not support universal office chair casters.

Best Use Case For Each Type of Caster

Save your floor and chair by knowing which wheels work best.
Types of Casters | ChairPickr
Office Chair Wheels Best Use
Soft Caster Carpet / Rug
Hard Caster Hardwood Floor
Rolling Caster Hardwood Floor
hqdefault | ChairPickr
Repair Your Office Chiar | Common Issues & Solutions
Hanachirusato From The Tale of Genji-Genji CC0 Public Domain Designation

Related Questions

Helpful Info About Office Chair Wheels & Some F.A.Q. Answered

A DIY Ergonomic Chair & Workstation Is A Great Alternative. While some chairs come with and that option, most do not.


A DIY way to make your stationary chair more mobile is by adding tennis balls to each of its five legs.


If you ever seen an elderly person with tennis wheels under their walker... you’d catch my drift.

If you value your rug, then you should use a chair mat.

Chair mats protect your carpet, reduce injury, and fatigue by making it easier to roll around. It can also help curtail electric static damage to your computer.

They also make it easier to move around within the workspace. If you're interested, I covered chair mats and how to extend the longevity of your workspace.


Dowse, Mark. “Mesh vs Upholstered Fabric Office Chair | MD Business Interiors Devon.” MD Business Interiors Devon, 10 Aug. 2017, www.mdinteriorsdevon.com/mesh-vs-upholstered-fabric-padded-office-chair/.
Chimp, O. “Master Caster Safety Casters.” Www.Youtube.Com, 13 June 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2j8PTbxA3E. 
https://www.facebook.com/thespruceofficial. “When Should You Replace Your Furniture?” The Spruce, 2019, www.thespruce.com/when-to-replace-furniture-4171738.


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