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Antique Furniture Casters: Which Ones Are the Best for Restoration Projects?

baronLong before casters became common in industrial or medical settings, early variations were being used with all kinds of antique furniture. Further, many antique restorations eventually add casters to the mix to make this fragile and high-value furniture a bit more durable if it has to be moved around on a regular basis. The good news for antique furniture owners is that the rapidly developing caster industry has not forgotten its roots, with any number of really great options available to match older home or office furnishings. Available in a variety of finishes with all kinds of modern or period-specific wheel materials, these casters offer a great deal of appeal during restoration and are the best way to perform authentic work with little to no compromise in the process.

At Douglas Equipment, we’ve made it our goal to offer the widest possible variety of casters to our customers, including options that look perfect in antique settings or restoration applications. For those customers who won’t settle for anything less than the best possible option, we have some great solutions worth considering during a delicate restoration procedure.

Go with the Right Finish for an Authentic, Completed Look

The most important thing to remember when restoring antique furniture is that the addition of new casters must match the existing aesthetic. That can be pretty hard to accomplish when shopping a supply of more traditional, industrial casters, but Douglas Equipment has worked to stock up on plenty of more decorative options that fit perfectly with older furnishings. Several popular finishes are available for these applications, including all of the following:

– Brass Finishes

Perhaps the single most popular caster finish for antique restoration is brass, which blends with just about everything on the market. Even better, brass can be sold in a variety of colors and finishes so that the casters match both chrome-plated furnishings and those with brushed finishes and darker colors. Our brass options come in both polished and brush offerings, in yellow and a darker brown hue that will match virtually every older piece of furniture. These caster finishes can be paired with a wide variety of wheel materials as well, further increasing the likelihood of a perfect match for any antique furnishings.

– Nickel 

Whether polished or brushed, this silver finish is perfect for other pieces of antique furniture that simply don’t blend well with a yellow metal. This is almost always the case for pieces from the mid-20th century. These “modern antiques” will benefit from the durable strength of nickel finishes and, like the brass casters mentioned earlier, each of these finishes can be paired with wheels in a variety of materials that will blend perfectly during restoration.

– Stainless Steel

While the vast majority of antiques look great when paired with nickel or brass, some simply require a more low-key material. That’s where our stainless steel options come in a variety of colors, including low-key black, which blend into a much broader assortment of antique furnishings. When brass or nickel just won’t do, these casters serve as a great resource for accurate, stunning restoration.

Wheel Materials: Thinking Outside the Box for Accurate Antique Restoration

While there is plenty of attention paid to the material used for the caster’s frame itself, it’s worth remembering that these antique pieces of furniture didn’t originally come with wheels made from modern materials like polyurethane or even today’s numerous implementations of softened rubber. In fact, most antique pieces of furniture came with caster wheels made from far more conventional materials, many of which are still available to specialty buyers engaging in period-sensitive restoration work. At Douglas Equipment, we understand how important it is to remain true to the period’s materials as well as that period’s aesthetics, which is why we offer a number of authentic wheel material options.

1. Hardwood Wheels

Antique restorations require authenticity and that’s where our hardwood caster wheels come in. Designed specifically for antique restoration and light, long-term use, these wheels perfectly replace older counterparts made from materials like maple, oak, and cherry trees. Each caster wheel comes with a smooth finish on the surface, able to safeguard the wheel against moisture and the occasional ding or dent.

Hardwood wheels are available with virtually every caster metal, making it easy to mix and match for a perfect and authentic restorative process. Be sure to browse our entire selection of materials, finishes, and combinations, so that any older piece of furniture can be restored to its original beauty without compromise.

2. Porcelain Wheels

When antique furnishings required something a bit more durable than the average hardwood wheel, many furniture manufacturers at the time turned to the durable nature of porcelain. Often thought of in today’s world as something a bit more decorative than all-purpose, porcelain wheels are a great way to bring back an old furnishing’s glory days. These wheels, available in a stark white color that really sets off the antique itself, are as attractive as they are durable and authentic.

Like their hardwood counterparts, these wheels can be mixed and matched with all of our available antique caster metals. That makes them a quick and easy choice for any high-stakes restoration where substitution just isn’t an option.

3. Brass Wheels

A final option for those seeking historical authenticity during an antique furniture restoration process is a simple, understated brass wheel. These wheels were one of the most common options for older pieces of furniture, so it’s likely that a large number of restoration procedures will require either brass-plated, shinier wheels, or those with a brushed finish and a slightly darker appearance. Both options are perfect for heavier pieces of furniture and they’re easy to blend with virtually any original aesthetic.

Finally, Don’t Forget About the Importance of a Stem or Bracket

There are plenty of things that separate traditional caster shopping from buying an antique replacement caster, but at least one thing remains the same: The wheel needs to fit onto the equipment using the proper hardware. That’s why Douglas Equipment has made sure that virtually all of our wheels and finishes can be found in both stem and non-stem varieties. When considering each option, those going through the restoration process should make sure they know how to pick the proper replacement.

– Caster Stems: What to Know When Shopping Around

When shopping for casters with a stem, there are a few key things to know and understand. The first of these is that casters with a stem can generally only be used on furniture that already had the proper holes pre-drilled. This allows the stem to fit snugly and securely for the long haul.

Another key thing to research prior to shopping is the actual diameter of the stem and its length. Knowing the dimensions ahead of time will help to avoid some of the most common pitfalls of any caster purchase, antique or not. Customers who measure and double-check the stem’s length will prevent wheels that don’t sit flush with the furniture, and they’ll avoid caster hardware that simply falls out of the pre-drilled holes when the object is lifted.

– Bracket-Based Casters: The Stem Alternative

Many pieces of antique furniture simply didn’t come with casters to begin with, and this means there are likely no pre-drilled holes for stems to fit into. For this reason, many shoppers going through a restoration procedure are actually on the hunt for a non-stem, bracket-based caster that can be attached virtually anywhere on the furniture. Shopping for these casters is quite a bit easier, but there are still some things to know.

First and foremost, it’s always a good idea to measure the width of the furniture’s underside to make sure that the bracket will be able to securely and properly attach to the furniture. If not, the bracket will overhang the bottom of the furniture piece, presenting both a safety hazard and an aesthetic eyesore. The caster purchased should have a matching finish on the bracket so that the bracket doesn’t stand out compared to either the furniture or the rest of the caster hardware.

Let Douglas Equipment Help with Antique Furniture Restoration

With more than a half-century of experience serving Miami and the greater South Florida region, Douglas Equipment can easily help customers find exactly what they need for a high-quality, authentic furniture restoration procedure that follows and replicate’s a piece’s original hardware. Our collection is made up of various finishes, a number of different wheel types and materials, and a variety of stem sizes and bracket types. Simply put, it’s easy to find exactly what each piece needs.

To get started, we encourage customers to get in touch with one of our expert salespeople right away. With vast experience in the industry and a firm understanding of what makes antique restoration particularly unique, they’ll be able to recommend the right caster material, hardware, and more. We can be reached through our website’s online contact form or by calling us toll-free at 800-451-0030. We look forward to helping with all of your restoration needs!