Casters Vs. Glides: What Is the Difference?

While shopping for office chairs, it’s extremely crucial to know the essential features of the chair. You also have to know the differences between certain features to make sure you get the product that fits your application. Now, at first glance, you might think that casters and gliders are the same things. They both perform the same function, right? 

What’s the difference between casters and gliders? The principal difference between casters and gliders is that casters are fixed at the bottom part of the chair’s legs that help it move around, while gliders are metal/plastic discs that are fixed at the bottom of the chair. Essentially, the casters help the chair roll around, and the gliders help it “glide” across the room.

Now, as you’re most likely aware, the differences don’t end there. You’ll have to know the various functions, advantages, and disadvantages of both casters and gliders in order to choose the one that best suits your needs.  

That’s why in this article, I will discuss everything you need to know about the differences between casters and gliders. 

What Is a Caster? 

Caster refers to a type of undriven wheel that’s designed to be attached to the bottom of the chair’s legs.

Not only that, casters have numerous other applications. They are heavily used in manufacturing shopping carts, toy wagons, hospital beds, various movable equipment, etc. 

The primary goal of using casters on larger objects is to help them move. The wheel that is attached to the frame is called the caster fork.

This caster forks the part that has the screws and bolts that hold the wheel in place and let it move. 

There are mainly three types of casters that are industrially used for building chairs. These types of casters include free-wheel casters, interval braked casters, and charge-braked casters. 

The free-wheel casters are capable of maneuvering even if there’s a large weight putting pressure on them.

That’s why this type of caster wheel is used predominantly while making office chairs. These casters let the user roll across the floor while sitting on the chair. 

Furthermore, these casters come with a swivel feature that allows them to move in all possible directions. These types of chairs come with added mobility that comes in handy in various situations. 

On the other hand, charge-braked casters allow the chair to move around until there is a weight applied to the chair. These wheels are designed to lock into place as soon as you sit down on the chair. 

If you want to have the perfect balance between the two types of chairs that we have discussed so far, then you can opt for a chair that features interval-braked casters. 

You’ll require more force to move an interval-braked chair if weight is applied to it. However, the casters won’t lock themselves in a place like the charge-braked casters. 

When Should I Choose Casters? 

It should be clear to you by now that casters are used on furniture that needs some extra movement and mobility.

Going by that principle, you should buy furniture that features casters if you know you have to move it frequently. 

For instance, most people buy office chairs that come with caster wheels. That allows the user to move from one place in the room to another place without ever having to get up. It’s quite a convenient feature to have. 

Not only that. You also have to consider the type of flooring in your room while choosing the type of casters. For instance, urethane casters work great on tiled floors, and they are almost ineffective on carpets. 

What Is a Glide?  

Glides refer to small discs that are attached to the bottom of the office chair’s legs. As the name suggests, the purpose of the gliders is to allow the chair to glide over the flooring when a certain amount of force is applied to it. 

Having furniture that has gliders saves you the trouble of repairing your flooring from time to time which can get really expensive. Gliders are primarily used on furniture that is not often moved around. 

Gliders come in a variety of sizes and shapes. And just like casters, gliders are also made of different types of materials. 

For example, if you want your chair to move around hardwood floors without having a noise, then you should invest in a felt chair that comes with felt glides. Apart from that, felt casters are ideal for moving around uneven floors. 

Some gliders are made of metal as well. If you have carpet over your floors, then metal glides will come in handy as they can move around easily over carpets. 

Metal gliders are typically made of stainless steel, and that’s why they don’t rust. On the other hand, if you have tile flooring, then we suggest you go with nylon/plastic casters. 

Furthermore, gliders are easy to install and remove. You won’t even have to consult a specialist for that. 

When Should I Choose Gliders? 

Typically, gliders are used on larger furniture that is hard to move around with caster wheels. For instance, gliders are used in lounge-type seating furniture. The reason for that is, gliders make it easy to move the furniture around without causing damage to the floors. 

Casters Vs. Gliders:

Ultimately the choice depends on the type of functionality that you require from your furniture. By now, you should have a good grasp of the features of both caster and glider wheels. 

Armed with that valuable knowledge, you can now choose the type of wheel that’s best for you. Typically, gliders are used in furniture that is made for home use. 

For instance, you wouldn’t want the office chair in your bedroom to move around frequently. That’s a great example of a situation where you require gliders. 

On the other hand, you require more mobility in the office space in order to collaborate better with your colleagues. 


Related Questions 

What are Chair Glides Used For? 

Chair glides are attached to furniture legs in order to make them slide over the floor by applying force. These wheels are quite versatile, and many office chair models use them. 

Gliders make the furniture easy to use and easy to move around. They also protect the floorboards from sustaining damage. 

What are Glides on a Bed Frame? 

Glides refer to lightweight flat feet whose key purpose is to provide stability to the furniture while making sure it provides the option of moving the furniture if necessary. 

The glides on a bed frame are lightweight flat feet whose key purpose is to provide stability to the bed while making sure it provides the option of moving the bed if necessary. 

Glides on a bed frame are typically made out of plastic or felt, and they are affixed at the bottom of the bed’s legs. 

Why do Sofas Have Glides? 

You might have noticed that there are small, lightweight wheels at the bottom of your sofa. The task of those glides is to make sure the sofa, as well as the floor, remains protected during movement. 

What Can I Use Instead of Casters? 

If you don’t like using casters, the obvious choice for you would be glides. If you’re looking for a different alternative, then we suggest you go for felt pads. These things can be easily applied to the chair’s legs, and they will prevent the floor from sustaining scratches. 

Final Thoughts  

You can decide which type of components will be ideal for your furniture only if you have a good understanding of the differences, applications, and advantages of those components. 

The type of wheel used in your office chair plays a vital role in determining how comfortable you’ll feel using it.

Hopefully, we were successful in conveying the differences between casters vs. gliders to you. 

Now you can go ahead and choose the type of wheel you want in your office chair. That should help you narrow down your purchasing options. 

Sifatul Shohan

Hi, I'm the co-owner of A blogger and a freelance web developer.  As I work as developer, I have to work for prolonged hours at a desk that's where I developed back pain. I started researching on ergonomic chairs and gained knowledge throughout the process.  This is the site where I share everything I've learned about office chairs.