The Ultimate Guide to Buying Caster Wheels

At Global Industrial, we not only provide practical solutions for your everyday needs, but we also give you the knowledge to make the best purchasing decisions for your business or organization. This comprehensive buying guide will break down the differences between the many types of caster wheels and show you how to determine which you should choose for your job.


Wheels vs. Casters: What’s the big difference?


You might find yourself thinking that wheels and casters are the same thing. Though a lot of casters can be found with wheels, there are differences you need to know between these two items. Let’s break them down.


A Brief Definition of Wheels


The wheel has been around since about 3500 BC, and it’s been pretty revolutionary in getting things where they need to go throughout human history. Traditional wheels spin on a single axis, meaning they can go in only one direction at a time. Your car tires, the wheels on your bike, or the wheels on a wagon are all examples of a single axis wheel. Wheels also feature a hole in the middle through which to insert that axis.


A Brief Definition of Casters


Casters, on the other hand, usually feature wheels on an axis and some sort of plate bracket to which they’re affixed. Some other types, like stem casters, do not have a bracket and instead use some kind of long material to affix a wheel to a product.


The two main types of casters are:


  • Swivel casters :  A rotating mount allows the swivel caster to spin in a series of small circles, giving you the flexibility to move in any direction.


  • Fixed casters : Also called rigid casters, fixed casters keep a wheel in a position that only moves in a single direction.


Where to Use Caster Wheels


Large garbage cans could have caster wheels so they can easily be moved to a larger dumpster.  Rolling carts used in warehouses or distribution centers that are used to move large loads can be maneuvered with ease thanks to caster wheels. And even if you’re in a white collar industry, you probably have small caster wheels attached to the bottom of your desk chair that allow you to move freely.


Caster wheels are a great choice to help move waste, products, furnishings, and much more. Basically, any item that needs to be easily moved from point A to point B could benefit from a caster wheel to improve efficiency.


Common Caster Wheel Materials


Caster wheels come in a variety of materials to support the wide range of uses they have. These materials include but are not limited to:



How to Choose the Right Caster Wheel


While appliances,gurneys, furnishings, hand trucks, and many other products come with caster wheels, at some point you’ll have to replace worn-out pieces. Or maybe you’re building a custom piece of furniture or piece of heavy-duty equipment and need to choose the right caster wheels to mount.


Should you select a rubber caster wheel, or is a steel caster wheel more appropriate for your job? Does that hand truck need pneumatic wheels? Ask yourself the following questions to determine the type of caster or wheel you’ll require:


  • What is the load capacity of the equipment or appliance?


  • Will you need your cart to move in more than one direction or simply roll in a straight line?


  • How can you attach your casters to your appliance? Does your refurbished air purifier simply come with holes at the bottom to insert your casters? Do those medical carts require heavy-duty brackets to which you’ll affix caster wheels?


  • On what type of surfaces will you be using your equipment or furniture? Will you be rolling across carpet, hardwood, or cement flooring? This will determine the wheel material you’ll need.



  • What wheel diameter do you need for your equipment? Typical wheel dimensions range from 3 to 35 inches.


Once you narrow down your specifications for the job at hand, you can find the right caster wheel combination on the Global Industrial website.


Mounting Caster Wheels


Mounting your casters will largely depend on the type of equipment or furniture you’re using.


  • Plate casters use a flat, square plate with holes to attach to the bottom of equipment, whether via bolts or, in heavier-duty applications, welding. Plate casters are appropriate for medium- to heavy-duty applications.


  • Stem casters use some type of “stem” or small metal rod to attach to a lighter-duty piece of equipment. Office chair caster wheels, wire shelves, and shopping carts generally employ stem casters. To mount, simply drill a hole in the furniture, or insert into a pre-drilled hole.


Wheel mounting will vary. To add a traditional wheel set on a hand truck, for instance, you’ll use locking washers or cotter pins to attach the wheels to a single axle.


Routine Maintenance for Caster Wheels


Caster wheels should make your operation’s day-to-day processes more seamless, whether they’re moving heavy pallets or helping you to swivel in a chair. To keep both your caster wheels working optimally, you’ll want to:


  • Clean regularly. Dust bunnies, dirt, hair, and debris that ends up on the floor easily gets caught in the wheels. Inspect every so often, brushing away any detritus.


  • Perform routine maintenance. Squeaky wheels and loose hardware may simply need oil or tightening. Pneumatic tire wheels might just need more air.


  • Look for wear and tear. We’re sure you know this situation all too well: You’re at the grocery store and you get that one cart that just doesn’t want to move, or makes everything feel off balance. When your industrial cart’s wheels start to wear down or your metal file cabinet’s casters don’t move like they should, it’s probably time to swap them out.


  • Replace worn parts. Loose screws, broken wheels, and flat tires will do nothing but slow you down. When your wheels are worn or your brackets get rusty, it’s time to purchase new ones.


We carry all the caster wheel components you need to help lighten your load and enhance your operational efficiency. No matter what you may need to transport items, we can supply that.




The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional.  Under no circumstances will Global Industrial be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.



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