When to Choose Hard or Soft Tread Casters for Your Desk Chair

Desk chairs aren’t something most of us think about often. The casters on those desk chairs? We think of them even less. But there are two important types and choosing the right one for you will make a difference. So, how do you know which type to choose?

Office chair casters are available in either hard or soft tread. The tread being the outside of the wheel itself, it’s the contact point against your floor or chair mat. So you’ll want to choose casters based on the type of flooring in your office.

Hard tread casters are less expensive, so they’re the default on most office chairs. They’re generally made from plastic and are designed to work better when rolling directly on carpeted floors.

Soft tread casters, on the other hand, are made from urethane and designed to work on hard surface flooring such as wood, tile, marble etc.

Of course, most desk chairs don’t sit directly on the floor; rather, they sit on top of desk chair mats. If you have a typical plastic chair mat or one of the more upscale glass chair mats, a soft tread caster will be a better choice. Hard tread casters will grind against another hard surface, making a little extra noise that can irritate some users. Moreover, the soft tread casters will grip a hard surface like a glass chair mat and thereby roll smoother and more ergonomically.

As mentioned above, most desk chairs come with hard the cheap, plastic hard tread casters. You can easily tell if that is what your desk chair has by scratching your fingernail on the tread. If it feels like hard plastic and you’re using a chair mat, you might want to switch them out for a nice set of urethane tread casters. How can you find the right set? Well, you can search for local or national caster distributors, or visit vitrazza.com. But, here are three things to know:

  • Most modern office chairs come ready to accept a 7/16” diameter grip ring stem – this is almost universal, but be sure to check. Occasionally a chair will have a thinner 3/8” grip ring stem. Be ready to tell your supplier which one you need.
  • Almost all modern office chairs have 5 casters - not 4 - look down to check!
  • And here’s a bit about industry lingo – very often the soft, urethane tread casters are called ‘hard surface casters’ i.e. they’re for rolling on hard surfaces.

As you probably guessed, a good set of American-made urethane tread casters will be a small extra investment, but, for many, the added quality is well worth it.

Vitrazza is the leader in Glass Office Chair Mats. Our products provide style, durability, ergonomic comfort, and sustainability. Vitrazza stocks 12 popular Glass Office Chair Mat sizes, and we create custom designs based on your ideas. Regardless of your office chair or casters, we have something that fits. To learn more, please visit us at vitrazza.com.