Understanding Furniture Caster Capacity

When you calculate the required capacity of your casters, there are two areas you will need to consider: Safety and roll-ability.

  • Safety: When installing casters, safety should always be of utmost importance. An overloaded caster can fail and cause the load to become unstable.  This can result in damage to the load if it overturns and injury to people.  Make sure you do not load your casters beyond their rated capacity.

  • Rollability: When you begin approaching the maximum load capacity of a caster, the ease of rolling your load may drastically reduce. The wheel compound you choose will affect the rollability.  If your are using a wheel with a harder compound, the rollability will probably not reduce much.  However if you are using a softer compound, as you reach the load capacity of your cart or piece of equipment, it will become very hard to maneuver.

To calculate caster capacity, take the total weight of your load divided by the number of casters you will use to carry the load.  It’s that simple!  Make sure you include the weight of any cart you are using.

Example – A cart with 4 casters:

  • Load weight = 1,500 lbs

  • Cart weight  =  100 lbs

  • Total weight = 1,600 lbs

  • 1,600 lbs / 4 casters = 400 lbs per caster

How to Measure Furniture Casters

  • When measuring the overall height needed for your furniture caster, you must first answer this important question:  “Am I using a stem attachment or a plate attachment?”  See the illustration below that shows the proper way to measure the overall height.

Note:  The overall height of the plate attachment will be approximately 1/4? higher than the stem caster of the same wheel size.  You will need to add 1/4? to the overall height dimension on the chart to get an actual overall height for a furniture caster with a plate attachment.

  • When choosing a wheel diameter for your furniture caster, remember this important detail:  The larger the wheel, the easier it rolls.  For instance:  If you are having a difficult time rolling your office chair on a carpeted floor, you may want to go from a 2? diameter wheel to a 2 -1/2? diameter wheel caster.  The illustration above shows the difference in measuring a dual wheel furniture caster, verses a ball caster.  Note:  When measuring a ball caster wheel with a rubber tread, always measure to the outside of the rubber.

Brakes on Furniture Casters

Brakes on furniture casters is not very common, but they are available. Most furniture casters have a dual wheel made of either plastic or urethane. The brake option for these has a lever on the hood of the brake which when activated, locks both wheels.

Understanding Housing and Hood Types

When choosing a particular hood style on your furniture caster, there are a couple of things you need to consider:  What materials are available, and do you have a color preference.

  • Hood material – There are two different hood materials available:  Plastic and metal.  If you are looking for a stronger and more durable furniture caster, you probably want to use a metal hood caster.  If cost is an issue, and strength and durability are not that important for your application, you might consider using a plastic hood furniture caster.

  • Hood Color – There are a number of different hood colors available to meet your needs when trying to make your piece of furniture look attractive.  In a plastic hood furniture caster black is the only color available.  However if you choose a metal hood furniture caster, you can choose one of the following colors:  Chrome, black or brass.

Choosing a Wheel Style

When deciding on a wheel style for an office chair or a piece of furniture, once again personal preference plays a large role.  There are three different styles of furniture casters available:  Dual wheel, single wheel, and ball.

  • Dual wheel – Dual wheel furniture casters are most commonly found on office chairs, but can be used in all other furniture applications.

  • Single wheel – Single wheel casters are commonly used in the medical industry for carts, IV poles, etc.  But are also found on office chairs and other furniture applications.

  • Ball casters – Ball casters are most generally found on home furniture such as sofa’s, chairs and beds, but they too can be used in any other furniture application desired.

Choosing a Tread Material

When choosing a wheel compound for your furniture caster, there is one important question to ask:  What type of floor will I be rolling my caster on?  You can choose from two different tread compounds, depending on your floor style.  Plastic and urethane.

  • Plastic – A plastic wheel caster is generally used if you are rolling your chair or piece of furniture on a carpeted area or an area that has some other form of floor protection (example: a chair mat).  A plastic wheel caster may also be used on cement floors or other types of flooring that marking is not an issue.

  • Urethane – Urethane furniture casters are generally used on your chair or other pieces of furniture when you are concerned about marking your floor.  These casters work great for hardwood, tile, linoleum, and freshly painted surfaces or any other flooring you are interested in protecting.  In addition to being non-marking, it also rolls very quietly.

Choosing an Attachment Style: Plates vs. Stems

When determining which attachment style to use for your furniture caster, you should first answer this question:  Am I replacing an existing caster on my piece of furniture or am I adding new casters.

  • Replacing existing casters – If you are replacing an existing caster it is normally easier to replace it with what came off of the piece of furniture. First, you must remove the caster and determine if it is attached by a plate or a stem. If it is attached with a plate mount, you can simply measure the plate and order a new caster and attachment that will match. If it is mounted with a stem attachment, you must determine what type of stem attachment you have. There are three different styles of stem attachments: Grip ring, grip neck, and threaded. When measuring a stem caster attachment, always measure the diameter first, and then the length. Example: 3/8 x 1-1/2 = 3/8 inch diameter stem that is 1-1/2 inches in length.

Once you have determined what style of attachment you have, simply take a measurement of the attachment and order accordingly.

  • Adding new casters – When adding new casters to a piece of furniture, attachment style becomes more of a personal preference than anything.  In some applications a plate mount maybe the easiest solution.  In situations where appearance may be an issue, one of the three stem attachments listed above maybe the way to go.




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