Glides vs. Casters: What’s the Difference?
Victoria Forney

Glides vs. Casters: What’s the Difference?

Like most people, you probably don’t think about the specifics of the chair you’re sitting on until you attempt to scoot back or find a better position for visibility. When you hear the legs scraping across the floor, you may have to admit that furniture mobility matters both at home and in the office.

You might consider installing glides or casters on the chair to make movement easier. However, choosing one mode isn’t as simple as purchasing a few sets of your preferred product. The design of glides vs. casters varies greatly, and each type provides different benefits for those using them.

What’s the difference between the two? As you shop for glides or caster wheels from Caster Central, refer to our guide below before making a final purchase.

Everything You Need To Know About Glides and Casters

What Are Casters?

Casters are the wheeled contraptions attached to the base of each chair leg. The caster anatomy includes the following:

  • Mount: the part that you attach to the chair leg
  • Stem: the part that connects the wheel to the mount for stability within the system
  • Wheel: the part that allows you to move the chair around

Casters are among the most popular additions to office chairs. You can even use them on other types of furniture that you need to frequently move. There are three basic types of casters.

  • Hooded casters include a broader stem that covers the entirety of the wheel. It hides any dirt and grime. 
  • Braked casters include a component that allows you to keep the chair completely stationary. 
  • Free-wheeling casters keep the chair in one place when you aren’t trying to move. Once you put some momentum into any given direction, this wheel allows you to move.

You can shop for numerous variations on these three models.

What Are Glides?

Although most people are familiar with casters, glides provide another option to assist with floor protection, easy movement, and improved ergonomics. These attachments include a mount and a disk-shaped glide at the bottom. You attach a set of glides to the chair legs in a similar manner to attaching casters.

Instead of rolling in all directions, glides allow the chair to easily slide across a smooth surface. The glides remain stationary while promoting the momentum you provide to enhance easy movement. You can choose from three basic types of glides:

  • Metal: These glides include a smooth metal disc attached at the bottom. Metal products are made of stainless steel and other durable materials. 
  • Plastic: Glides made from plastic have a design similar to metal ones. However, plastic glides aren’t as durable and sometimes cause floor damage. 
  • Felt: Felt glides protect your floor while you effortlessly move your chair across the surface. However, you must maintain them by frequently replacing the felt discs.

Glides vs. Casters: How Do They Work?

So, how do you choose between glides and casters for your chairs or other furniture pieces? It helps to take a look at how you install a set of each, how each facilitates easier movement in your home or office space, and how they’ll transform your chair.

Glides are just new feet for your chair. They offer ease of installation; just slide the mount into the hollowed hole at the bottom of each chair leg. Some glides have a mechanism that twists to secure the glide to each leg.

With glides, you will use the force of your legs to push the chair across the floor while seated. The glides’ flat, round surfaces will eliminate the resistance that typical chair feet cause for less effort to move the chair.

Casters are wheels you can attach to the bottom of the chair’s legs. They are easy to install. Once you’ve secured them to the bottom of your chair, you can use your weight and force to roll the chair across the floor effortlessly. 

Glides vs. casters: which should you choose? While glides work better than the average chair feet, casters require far less exertion than glides. Here are some pros and cons to help you decide between them:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Glides

Glides come with a few fantastic advantages and do more than increase mobility. For instance, depending on the type you purchase, your glides may offer the following:

  • Higher load capacity for the chair
  • A more affordable mobility-enhancing product
  • Durability
  • A variety of shapes and materials

However, you’ll also need to put in more effort to move with glides compared to wheels. Certain glide materials may also scuff the floor, causing unattractive streaks, dents, or scratches. They also require maintenance.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Casters

Casters are more popular solutions for furniture mobility and for good reason. Casters will be the best option for you for the following benefits:

  • Move more easily than glides
  • Can choose products that better facilitate comfort and ergonomics
  • Less likely to damage the flooring
  • A variety of materials and styles

However, like glides, casters have a downside. Although most people prefer these innovative mobility solutions, the following disadvantages may sway your final decision:

  • Casters typically carry a higher initial outlay than glides
  • Some caster models aren’t as durable as glides
  • Some casters require occasional maintenance and cleaning
  • Casters won’t support a higher load capacity than they are made to handle

If you think any of these points could cause a problem for you, you might want to consider glides instead. Also, take into account the extra costs involved long-term, such as maintenance and replacement, before settling on your preferred furniture mobility product.

How to Choose Between Glides and Casters

Before you make a final decision, consider what you want out of your chair experience. Do you want increased mobility, maximal floor protection, and a design that enhances your comfort? Go for casters. 

And if you want to prioritize higher load support, affordability, or durability, shop for better-quality casters.

Why Furniture Mobility is So Important

Do you really need to invest in glides or casters to support mobility? What’s wrong with picking up your chair and moving it to a different location? Whether you choose glides or casters, you’ll find that mobility at home and at work plays a much more important role in your workflow than you realize.

This hardware doesn’t solely improve mobility; it can change the way you sit. If you experience discomfort during long hours at your desk, add a set of casters or glides to your chair’s feet. It could make a world of difference in how the chair supports your body and gives you more freedom of movement between tasks.

You’ll also want to avoid damaging the floor. Floor replacement and repair cost a lot, especially as the subfloor beneath the tiles, carpet, or wood becomes more susceptible to damage. A set of casters or glides could save the floor and your maintenance budget.

Finally, you’ll find it far more convenient to move your chair as you sit in it. If you pick it up or struggle to push it across the floor, you break your concentration on the task at hand. Glides and casters can also improve focus by eliminating those annoying scraping noises.

Glides vs. casters: which should you choose for your home or office building? Our experts recommend exploring the diverse inventory of casters with varying caster mount types to enhance the comfort and stability of any chair! We can also help you make an informed decision, so make mobility a priority with products from Caster Central at 1-800-445-4082 today!