Are the cheap plastic wheels on your office chair scratching up your hard wood floors? Or maybe the casters are just falling apart? Almost every rolling office chair has wheels that can easily be removed and replaced. Below is an step-by-step guide (with pictures) on how to replace chair wheels.
How to replace chair wheels
To replace swivel chair wheels on your office chair follow these steps:
- Remove office chair wheels
- Verify caster type and size
- Select and purchase new replacement caster wheels
- Remove the remaining chair wheels
- Install new office chair wheels
Please continue reading for details on each step.
Step 1: Remove office chair wheels
Removing the wheels from your office chair is a simple and easy process. In most cases it doesn’t even require any tools. In this step, you will remove just one caster wheel to identify the size and type. The majority (~95%) of office chairs wheels have what is considered a “grip ring stem”. This type of stem is a metal cylinder shape with a split ring in the shape of a “C” near the top. The grip ring is able to compress and expand, which locks the stem into the socket of the chair base. So to remove this type of caster typically just requires a firm pull. If you find that your office chair has an uncommon stem type (threaded or fixed/welded), please contact us and we’d be happy to give you recommendations.
Follow these steps to remove your office chair wheels:
1a: Lay office chair on its side.
Carefully lay your office chair down on its side so you have access to the caster wheels.
Lay office chair on its side so you have access to the chair wheels
1b: Pull out chair wheel (hands, gloves, towel)
Firmly grip one chair wheel and pull away from the chair base. This should release the caster from the socket. If you are having trouble gripping the caster, try using a glove or an old towel. If the chair wheel will not budge, it is possible you have a different stem type (threaded or fixed/welded). Contact us for recommendations.
Firmly grip one chair wheel and pull away from the chair base
Use a work glove for better grip on the caster wheel
Use an old towel for better grip on the chair wheel
1c: If stuck, pry chair wheel with screwdriver
If you think you may have a grip ring stem, but it is just really stuck, you can try using a wide flat blade screwdriver to help pry the caster out of the chair base socket. If you are still having trouble removing the chair wheel, apply some WD-40 or similar lubricate to the caster stem, let it sit for a few hours and try again.
Use a flat blade screwdriver to pry the chair wheel from the socket
Step 2: Verify caster type and size
After one caster wheel has been removed from the office chair base, you will be able to verify the stem type and size.
2a: Verify stem type
Use the pictures below to identify your chair's caster stem type. The grip ring stem is the most common stem found on office chair wheels. If you have one of the other types, please see more details in this article. Determining stem type is a critical step in how to replace chair wheels.
2b: Measure stem size
Measure the diameter and length of the grip ring stem. Chances are they will measure 7/16” diameter by 7/8" length. (Don’t have a way of measuring? Here are some alternate methods to measure your caster stem)
Measure grip ring stem using calipers or tape measure
Step 3: Select new replacement chair wheels
Even though every office chair you’ve ever purchased always came with the same black plastic dual wheel casters, there are actually better options out there. Many of the problems that that you have with these wheels are solved with a higher quality caster. The best all-around chair wheel for most applications is a heavy-duty single wheel caster that is safe for all floors.
Rollerblade office chair wheels are considered the best all-around casters for swivel chairs
The main features you want to look for when selecting new chair wheels are:
- Safe for all floor types (hardwood, laminate, tile, ect.)
- Steel frame for a high weight capacity, 500+ lb
- Ball bearings in swivel and wheel for smooth rolling
- Quiet rolling and swivel movement
- Durable materials for years of repeated use
- Product that is backed by a warranty
What if your office has thick, plush carpet? Good question! This is a tough one because chair wheels were never actually intended to perform well on thick carpet. So there is really no perfect caster for this type of floor. Your best option is to look for a heavy duty caster that has a larger wheel diameter. A caster with a 3” wheel diameter will move slightly easier than one with a 2” wheel diameter through thick carpet. Lastly, you can consider using a plastic floor mat for better mobility. This is the only case that we’d recommend using a chair mat. In all other applications, besides plush carpet, chair mats are unnecessary and harmful.
For a more in-depth analysis of chair caster wheel types, check out this article.
If you'd like to skip the research and analysis - check out our rollerblade office chair wheels. They have been considered the best all-around caster for office chairs.
Will they fit my chair?
Since you already verified the type and size of the caster stem in step 1, you should feel confident that they fit your swivel chair. Just make sure the chair wheels you purchase match the type and size determined previously.
Step 4: Remove remaining chair wheels
After you received your new set of casters, remove all of the old wheels by using the method described in step 1.
Remove the remaining old plastic chair wheels using the method in step 1.
Step 5: Install your new wheels
Install the new chair wheels by pushing the caster stem all the way into the chair base socket. This process is for the standard grip ring stem type, and the last step in how to replace chair wheels.
Install new office chair wheels
It is possible that the stem size is compatible with the chair base, but you are still having trouble inserting it. This could be due to the grip ring on the top of the stem. This ring is meant to be compressed and it is what holds the wheel in place once inserted into the chair base. So if the stem goes into the socket hole, but stops at the grip ring, try the following:
- Lightly apply a lubricant jelly or some WD-40 directly to the grip ring
- Compress the grip ring with some pliers
If you need additional help with how to replace chair wheels, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our goal is to make sure your office chair is comfortable and in perfect working condition.