So is it a caster or castor…
and why not just call it a wheel? A caster or castor is essentially a wheel. So is it a caster or castor? Both terms appear to be used interchangeably. Generally in the UK castor is preferred. The other side of the pond, in the US they tend to prefer caster.
Castors can be single or double and fitted to the bottom of larger items for ease of movability.
You can find them in a range of sizes and in different finishes such as plastic, nylon or rubber to stainless steel or aluminium.
Most common place to find them is on a supermarket trolley. They are also frequently used on office chairs and some office furniture, particularly under desk pedestal units.
Standard, Soft, Brake Loaded or Unloaded Castors or Glides?
Some office chairs will offer a choice of castors. For example:
- brake loaded
- brake unloaded
What is the difference? What do these all mean?
First of all - the Standard Castors
Standard castors are essentially free-wheeling whereas brake loaded or brake unloaded are not.
Standard castors are most commonly found in the traditional office with carpet tile flooring.
Brake Loaded Castors
Brake loaded and unloaded castors are designed for vinyl or concrete flooring.
Brake loaded castors will brake when a user is sitting on the chair so essentially they are free-wheeling until weight is applied and then the castor will lock. So in the case of an office chair when the person sits in the chair it will lock. If you wish to pull the chair in nearer to a desk you would stand (remove weight or load) adjust (move) the chair and re-sit.
Brake Unloaded Castors
Brake unloaded brake when no one is on the chair or stool. The opposite of brake loaded. These may be preferable in situations where the chair could be knocked or rolled across a particularly slippery floor surface causing a hazard. They are a popular choice in a laboratory environment.
Both brake loaded and unloaded castors are designed to reduce slipping. Depending on the environment will depend on the choice. Do you need it to be free-wheeling, brake when loaded or brake when unloaded?
Soft castors are designed with more friction to slow the chair down. These are often selected in an office environment or home office with polished wood or tile flooring.
Semi-soft castors are between standard and soft castors. These are designed to work equally well on tile or carpet flooring.
and Finally - Glides... no wheel
Finally you may have the choice of glides. These are not a castor or wheel and are actually a foot. Glides are designed for areas where the features of an office chair are required but no movement (or roll) is preferred. Such areas may include the visitor side of a desk or reception area. They are also a popular choice in a laboratory or for a draughtsman.
So is it a caster or castor. Who knows!