Though hardwood floors fell out of style a few decades ago, in recent years they have made a dramatic comeback in both homes and offices. There are probably a few reasons for this, including their aesthetic difference from carpet, their easy maintenance, and the fact that hardwood floors are simply more sustainable over the long-term. While these benefits are attracting more and more people to the concept of hardwood flooring in virtually all areas of the home or office, it’s worth noting that wood flooring options are not impervious to scratches, scrapes, and scuffs. In fact, that might be the number one problem facing the typical hardwood installation.
There are plenty of ways to avoid these sources of damage in a typical hardwood environment, most of which begin with the occupants. That means picking furniture up rather than sliding it, wearing shoes without hard or abrasive soles, and being careful not to drop heavier or sharper objects onto the floor. When it comes to everything from living room furniture to office chairs, however, there’s another key concern: Choosing a caster that doesn’t do damage to the floor on a routine basis.
This might seem like common sense, but it’s actually something that flies under the radar for most people who are new to hardwood flooring and haven’t yet experienced how caster wheels can affect the finish and polish of the installation. Luckily, several excellent caster materials are available, each of which will protect hardwood flooring installations and reduce the risk of scratches and other damage. Here’s what to know when accommodating this popular flooring material.
For Lighter Objects, Nylon Casters Might Do the Trick
Most office chairs aren’t sold with high-tech caster wheel materials, but that’s because most office chairs are pretty light and even their occupants won’t case damage to the floor if those casters are rolled on hardwood. For lighter furniture and lighter people, existing nylon casters can likely remain in place for the vast majority of hardwood areas. That’s because these casters are not very abrasive, and most have been polished so that their surfaces don’t cause problems with hardwood, marble, or granite, unless they’re under a great deal of stress.
Nylon casters are available in quite a wide variety of sizes, colors, and styles, for those pieces of furniture that require new or refurbished wheels. They’ll easy fit onto an office chair, but they’ll also look great on desks or tables, or numerous other office and home fixtures. As an added bonus, nylon casters represent the lower end of the price spectrum when shopping for this type of product, making them an easy addition to any budget.
Hard Urethane Casters are Another Option for Lighter Furnishings
While nylon casters are easily the most common purchase for office chairs and other, lighter equipment options, they’re not the only way to retrofit furnishings to accommodate a hardwood flooring installation. One of the strongest competitors in this space is urethane, which looks almost indistinguishable from the typical nylon caster. These wheels take on the same shape and assume many of the same color options, but they come with an added bonus: Urethane is a bit softer than nylon in practice, and it’s easy to attach a small polyurethane “tread” onto the caster to offer even better protection to the flooring material.
These casters work perfectly with hardwood, and they’re also a great addition to any area that might use tiles, or granite and marble flooring options like those in most lobby areas. When comparing prices, features, and long-term expectations, definitely consider a urethane caster next to a nylon option. Pick the one with the right price and appearance.
Heavier Objects Require Special Materials, Like Polyurethane Coatings
While the polyurethane “tread” mentioned earlier is a great way to protect the floor in conjunction with lighter caster materials, this will not be enough to safeguard wooden floor materials if an object is particularly heavy. It also isn’t a good idea to use nylon or urethane casters with objects with a variable weight, especially when that weight could escalate to 100 pounds or more. That’s where materials like polyurethane come in. Instead of using a lighter and less durable caster material, these wheels are typically made of metal or cast iron. But that’s not what’s special about them.
These wheels are then coated in a thick layer of polyurethane, completely masking the metal wheel material and making sure that the surface in contact with the floor is always soft and accommodating. The great thing about polyurethane is that the material, while soft and respectful of the hardwood itself, is still hard to the touch. That means there’s no sacrifice in how easily an object can be rolled around the home or office, even as its exterior does less harm to the floor. These caster wheels can be purchased in a variety of colors, making them blend with virtually any existing furnishings.
Neoprene Rubber is the Ultimate in Hardwood Floor Protection for Caster Wheels
When there’s simply no margin for error, home or business owners should consider neoprene rubber caster wheels as their best option. These unique caster wheels are somewhat similar to polyurethane options, in that they typically use a sturdy metal wheel that’s covered by a softer material on the outside. The primarily difference between polyurethane wheels as their rubber counterparts is that rubber wheels can be purchased in a variety of densities. That means the wheel can be as soft or as hard as the buyer requires, limited only by the wheels in stock at a local caster supply store.
Like their neoprene counterparts, these casters can be found in a number of finishes, colors, and styles, making them blend effortlessly with existing office or home furnishings that might look out of place with a wheel that can’t be customized and color-matched. Rubber caster wheels are perfect for furniture that will weigh in excess of 200 pounds either consistently or on rare occasions, protecting hardwood materials from scratches and scrapes that less protective options would almost certainly inflict.
Shopping for the Right Caster: How to Prepare Ahead of Time
It’s apparent that today’s buyers have a seriously large amount of options at their fingertips when the time has come to prepare furniture for interaction with hardwood flooring materials. Choosing between these various options can be a daunting task, especially for those customers who haven’t picked out casters in the past and might simply be overwhelmed by the number of options they have available. Shopping can be made a great deal easier, however, by simply taking a few steps beforehand to prepare for the right buying decision.
1. Weigh the Furniture and Make an Assessment
The first thing to know is simply how much the furniture weighs on its own, as well as how much the furniture will weigh when it’s in active use. For example, the weight of an office chair while unoccupied is quite different than the weight would be when a worker is using it day after day. By making accurate assessments of these weights, and rounding up rather than down, the floor will be easily protected and buying the right caster will be a breeze.
2. Determine How Delicate the Floor Is
Different hardwoods and different finishes have varying degrees of resilience. Some woods and finishes can hold up a lot better under stress than others, so it’s worth talking with the installation crew bout how to protect the floor, what the floor can tolerate, and what might be just a bit too much for the floor without experiencing at least minor damage.
3. Determine the Budget for Casters
Are casters being worked into an already tight budget or is there an unlimited supply of money available to purchase the absolute best, most expensive casters on the market? Neither approach is wrong, but customers looking to get the best caster, and the best possible price, need to set their financial expectations before shopping and meeting with a professional.
4. Set a Timeline for Installation
When are the casters needed? If they need to be installed tomorrow, it’s important to find a company that has them already in stock. If the installation can wait, there might be a good deal on casters that typically require a special order to be placed. Know the timeline before shopping and avoid any potential headaches or disappointment that might otherwise result.
Douglas Equipment is a Valuable Resource for Hardwood Flooring Casters
With several decades of experience and an unparalleled selection of great casters, including Colson Casters, Douglas Equipment can help virtually every customer in Florida avoid flooring damage. Our sales experts will evaluate the floor, the furniture, and the best material for every caster sold, making sure each customer achieves the best possible outcome.
To get started with our excellent selection of casters for hardwood floors and more, be sure to contact us online or give us a call toll-free at 800-451-0030. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you meet all of our unique needs.