Office Chair Wheel Replacement | How to Replace Casters
Having an office chair that easily wheels around so that you do not have to constantly scuff hardwood floors or rip up and snag carpet in your office is important. When your office chair’s wheels, or casters break, don’t throw out that office chair! Instead, do a simple repair that restores the chair to its free-wheeling movement again. Here is how to replace casters on any office chair.
Turn the Desk Chair Upside Down and Examine Your Wheels
The casters on a desk chair typically come in threes, fours, or fives. The most stable of chairs have five casters on the bottom, but are often a little trickier to slide under a computer desk or other office desk. Regardless of how many wheels or casters your chair has, you still need to turn it upside down to examine the wheels/casters and determine what kind of replacement kit you will need to purchase to make this repair.
It also helps to remove one of the casters that is still in really good condition so that you can compare it to other casters at a furniture store like Serta, Pottery Barn, Staples, Ikea, or at a home repair goods depot.
What Kind of Casters Do You Have?
There are many different types of wheels and casters. Each type of caster or wheel is made from a different type of material (e.g., rubber, plastic, wood, etc.). If you remove a wheel to take to the store to compare and find a replacement, be sure to take the bolt or screw that holds the wheel in place. You will need to find a replacement wheel that fits with the type of bolt or screw used to secure the wheel to the feet of the chair.
When you find a replacement, do not expect it to be a perfect match. In fact, if your chair is more than a year or two old, an exact match would be a very lucky find. Finding a wheel that is at least a reasonable duplicate and not something akin to a rollerblade wheel is acceptable. You need the wheel to be as durable as possible while fitting into the same chair foot as the old broken wheel. Buy an extra wheel for a spare just in case another wheel breaks.
Try Contacting the Manufacturer Too
If you held onto the owner’s manual for your office furniture items, there should be customer service contact info in there. If not, it might be on a label on the bottom of the seat of the chair. Try calling this number to ask for a replacement wheel. They may just have some in their warehouse somewhere.
If the wheel has a number or part ID, be ready to provide that information to the company. It helps the phone representative look it up faster and find it. If they do not have an exact match, but they do have a newer model that will do the trick, the phone rep will ask you if you would like that part sent to you instead to try. If it doesn’t cost you anything, feel free to give it a shot.
Replace the Caster
With the new wheel/caster in hand and the chair still upside down, attach the new caster in the position of the old broken one. Use the existing bolt or screw, unless the new bolt or screw in the caster kit will work better and still fit the chair foot. When it is tight enough to prevent the new caster from coming free but still loose enough to allow the caster to spin, flip the chair upright and check it to see if it glides easily over your floor.
There should be easy movement, with no tilting or awkward lifting off the floor. The new wheel should be the same circumference, diameter, and weight as the others still on this piece of furniture. This will help prevent it from tipping toward the new wheel or not being able to move at all.
When You Can’t Find a Caster, but You Can Find a Base
Sometimes you can’t replace the caster, but you can replace the base. The base is the entire section of the chair, including feet, casters, and pedestal that sits under the seat. Remove the old base from the seat and attach/install the replacement base. You will not need to replace any screws or bolts unless they are bald or refuse to tighten sufficiently.
A lot of office supply stores may have extra bases if customers returned chairs sans the seats, backrests and arms. They may also have bases in their clearance section if they had damaged goods come in off a truck but still want to sell what is still usable. Ask around at these office supply stores to see what they have, and take a picture of the underside of your chair to compare with what the store has to see if it could work for you.
Caster Replacement Video Instruction For the Visual Learner
This video gives a very good overview of replacing standard plastic casters. Most of the low end to middle end quality office chairs have these sorts of casters, which is probably the type of chair you have. If you have a more expensive or elite sort of office chair, your casters may be metal or a more durable material and attach in a slightly different way.
If you are a visual learner, you could probably use a video. Here is one that may just help you get an idea of how to manage the above steps and restore your chair to its former functional state.