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Types of Casters

Whether you are replacing existing casters or looking to add casters as an accessory to equipment, this guide will take you through the types of caster mounts, styles, and wheel materials to help you determine which type of caster best fits your needs.

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What Are Casters?

A caster is made up of two parts: the wheel and the mounting bracket. Casters are mounted to carts, racks, trucks, dollies, and heavy equipment to make them movable.

Caster Purchasing Considerations

If you are purchasing casters as an add-on accessory to your piece of equipment, here are some factors you will need to consider.

What floor type will the wheels be going over? Softer floor types, such as hardwood, will require softer wheel materials while harder floor types, such as concrete, can handle harder wheel materials.

What is the work environment like? If your workspace is wet and/or oily, or if exposure to chemicals is a concern, it is important to choose wheel materials that will be able to handle these conditions.

What is the level of maneuverability you need? If you only need to go up and down a hallway, rigid casters are most likely all you need. However, if you need to maneuver a cart or piece of equipment in a tight space, a swivel caster is likely the better option for you.

What is the load capacity that the casters will need to support? The larger the load capacity is, typically the harder wheel material and larger wheel diameter you will need.

Is noise level a concern? Typically, the greater the wheel size is, the quieter the casters will be. Some caster materials have more shock- and vibration-resistance for lower noise levels, which may be a concern in retail or healthcare environments.

Do the casters need to have brakes? If you need to secure the unit after moving it, then you should look into purchasing braking or locking casters. Often only having two out of the four casters with brakes is sufficient for your unit.

Do you need NSF-rated casters? Ideal for foodservice areas and food manufacturing facilities, NSF-rated casters are built to stay sanitary in environments where the casters will be frequently exposed to washdowns, oils, or chemicals.

Expert Tip

Prior to purchasing casters for your unit, it is important to check if your unit can support casters as an add-on accessory, and if so, what casters are compatible with the unit. Check the manufacturer's literature and reference the You May Also Need or Replacement Parts and Accessories section on the product's page to find your unit's compatible casters.

Types of Caster Wheel Materials

The wheel material is the most important decision when choosing your caster since the materials are best suited for different environment and temperatures.

Restaurant Equipment

Fiberglass wheels are ideal for heavy-duty, high-temperature environments.

Neoprene rubber wheels are highly resistant to grease, fats, and oils. They have a sufficient level of cushioning to protect floors and roll quietly, making them ideal for softer floor types.

Nylon wheels are ideal for heavy-duty, high-temperature, and corrosive environments. Suitable for both hard and soft floor surfaces, nylon wheels are great for concrete floors because of their durability and impact resistance.

Phenolic resin wheels are highly resistant to oil, grease, gasoline, and mild acids. They are ideal for use on smooth concrete floors and are not recommended for wet applications or rough surfaces.

Polyolefin wheels resist hard impacts and are non-marking. They are suited for use in wet and corrosive applications.

Polypropylene wheels provide easy rolling and chemical resistance. They work well in wet and oily environments.

Polyurethane wheels have some cushioning to protect floors and roll easily while handling a greater load capacity. Suitable for both hard, soft, and uneven floor surfaces, they are abrasion-resistant as well as resistant to grease and oils.

Solid rubber wheels are long-lasting because they do not have air inside, so you do not have to worry about flats. They provide good floor protection and a quiet operation, making them a great choice for softer floor types.

Stainless steel wheels feature a strong, durable design. They are rust- and corrosion-resistant, making them a sanitary option for wet environments.

Caster Mount Types

There are two basic types of caster mounting options: plate and stem. While both are great for different applications, the type of mount you need will mostly depend on what you are attaching the caster to.

Avantco 4" plate caster
Avantco 4" plate caster

Plate Mounts

Plate mounts feature a flat bracket with bolt holes that allows the caster to be flush-mounted to the equipment.

  • Plate has a larger surface area than threaded stem mount for more dependable stability and mobility
  • Ideal choice for heavy-duty equipment
  • Not as easy to replace as stem mount casters
Regency 5" stem caster
Regency 5" stem caster

Stem Mounts

Stem mounts feature a single stem that are typically screwed into the equipment to attach it.

  • Easy to replace, clean, and lubricate as needed
  • Ideal for lighter-duty applications like small equipment and furniture
  • Not as strong as plate mounts

Rigid vs Swivel Casters

There are two basic styles of casters: swivel or rigid. The style of caster that is best for you depends on the level of maneuverability your piece of equipment needs.

Rigid Casters

  • Ideal for moving materials in straight lines
  • Easier to control and no steering required
  • Great for heavy loads
  • Can only move forwards and backwards, so they may not be suitable for tight spaces

Swivel Casters

  • Able to swivel 360 degrees so they can move in any direction
  • Best suited for turning tight corners and in small spaces
  • Some come with swivel locks to make straight-line and long-distance traveling easier
  • Harder to control and maneuver the wheels to go in the same direction
  • Not ideal for heavier loads or long distances since more manpower is needed to control the load
Did you know

Some caster kits come with both rigid and swivel style casters for greater mobility in your establishment. This hybrid combination allows you to move loads across longer distances without trying to keep the swivel wheels straight as well as allow you to turn tight corners and move sideways.

Understanding Caster Dimensions

Knowing what size you need is also important when selecting a caster. Generally, the greater the wheel diameter and width are, the greater the load capacity becomes, the easier it is to start and keep rolling, and the quieter the noise level becomes. Here are the three measurements to check for to ensure you purchase properly sized casters.

Caster Dimensions
  1. Overall height: the distance from the bottom of the wheel to the top of the top plate or caster stem.
  2. Wheel diameter: the distance between the opposite sides of the wheel. Casters are typically labeled by their wheel diameter.
  3. Wheel width: also known as the tread width, this represents the width of the outer surface of the wheel.
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