A Quick Guide On How to Remove Wheels from Office Chairs

Replacing the wheels on your office chair may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually a simple process that can give your chair new life. Especially when your replacement wheels are an upgrade over the original wheels! 

Over time, chair wheels can collect dirt and hair in the bearings and the plastic wheels start to fall apart. This makes it difficult for the wheels to roll smoothly. 

roller blade chair caster on Woood

It’s actually important to swap out damaged wheels. If your wheels are not rolling smoothly, they might actually be scratching the surface they’re on.

By learning how to remove and replace your office chair wheels, you can breathe new life into the chair and make it glide effortlessly again. (As a side note, you can also replace your chair’s gas cylinder if you find that your chair doesn’t stay up as you sit on it. This will make your chair feel brand new! We have a dedicated article on fixing chairs that don’t stay up.) . 

Fortunately, no technical expertise is required and this can easily be completed by anyone. The process typically involves turning the chair upside down to access the caster wheels, and either unscrewing or prying the existing wheels off. 

Key Takeaways

  1. First, remove your caster following the instructions below. 
  2. Identify your caster type so you can order a compatible replacement. 
  3. Choose a replacement caster that does a better job and will last longer.
  4. Finally, replace all casters with the new wheels

Identify Wheel Type

Before you start attempting to remove the wheels from your office chair, we have to identify the type of wheel your chair has. This will tell us how to actually remove it and make it easier to find a replacement that fits.

Office chair caster wheels typically come with two different stem types: grip ring stems or threaded stems. Fortunately for us, most office chairs only use grip ring stems. 

There are other types of casters out there, but they are typically for various furniture or equipment.

Grip ring stems have a smooth cylindrical shape with a small ring around their edge. On the other hand, threaded stems resemble screws and require a counter-clockwise twist to unscrew them from the chair base.

Here’s how you can visually differentiate between the two types of caster stems:

grip stem vs threaded stem caster

Notice how the grip ring stem is a smooth metal stem with a small ring near the top. 

The threaded stem on the other hand looks like a screw with a wheel attached to it. The giveaway for a threaded stem is the hex shape at the base that allows a wrench to be inserted.

Now that we have our office chair caster attachment method identified, we can move forward with removing the caster. 

Removing Stem Caster Wheels

Turn that chair on its side or upside down, because it’s time to access the wheels! If you have a super nice chair, you can put a blanket or towel on the floor to protect it.

upside down chair with wheels exposed
wheels of an upside down chair

Grip Stem Removal Method

If your casters have grip ring stems, these casters just have to be pulled right out. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to pull them out with bare hands, it depends on the chair.

grip ring caster installed on chair

Instead of using your hands, you can use the prying method to remove them. A flat-head screwdriver can be used to gently pry the caster away from the chair base. Make sure to do this carefully to avoid damaging the chair.

prying off caster from chair start
prying off caster from chair finish

If you are worried about damaging the chair, you can place a protective component (towel, old credit card) between the chair and the screwdriver.

grip ring stem removed from chair

Threaded Stem Caster Removal Method

For threaded stem casters, you have to rotate these to unthread the wheel. Turn the chair upside down and grip the entire caster, not just the wheels. Hold onto the caster and turn it counterclockwise to unscrew it from the chair base.

In some cases, office chair wheels may be stuck due to accumulated dirt and grime. Lubricating the threaded stem can make the removal process easier.

Finding Caster Replacements

Now we have to choose a replacement for the caster we just removed. 

Measure the dimensions of the stem, and search for those casters. Most of today’s office chairs have a grip step caster that has a 7/16″ (11mm) diameter and a 7/8″ (22mm) height.

roller blade wheels removed from chair

Selecting Suitable Wheels

I highly recommend using the roller blade type office chair wheel replacements. They are just as affordable as plastic casters but they have a ton more benefits. 

We touch on these rollerblade wheels being a great alternative for chair mat users too. They have a larger diameter so they roll easier on all surfaces. 

If you have carpeted floors, a caster with a larger diameter will make it dramatically easier to roll. I recommend casters with a diameter of 3 inches or larger for carpeted floors. 

Roller Blade vs Normal Caster

These wheels also have a softer surface so they are less likely to be abrasive even after a ton of use. The hard plastic wheels can embed hard debris and that gets dragged around all over your precious floors! 

Rollerblade wheels don’t do this nearly as much. 

3" Office Chair Caster Wheels

These chair wheels are made with soft, polyurethane material to protect floors and heavy-duty steel construction for durability. They roll smoothly and quietly on any surface and solve the problem of traditional wheels getting tangled with carpet or hair. They support up to 650 lbs and won't scratch floors.

Check Price on Amazon

Installation Procedure

Because we’ve already removed a caster, we simply have to repeat this step for all of the other casters. Once all the old casters are removed, it’s time to install the new set! 

You can probably guess what we have to do to install a grip ring stem. Yup, just press them on! 

I found that if you have locking wheels, you can get more pressure on the stem if you lock the wheels. That way they don’t keep rotating on you when you are trying to press straight on. 

That’s all there is to it! Not so bad right? If you want a visual guide, check out the video below!

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!