In case you’re new to DIYing, a caster is a piece of hardware that consists of a wheel and a mount that can be secured onto furniture or objects to make them mobile. Home improvement stores offer a wide variety of casters according to strength, flexibility, and cosmetic preferences. Next time you’re building a project that calls for casters, refer to this guide to help you narrow down which set of wheels will work best.
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It’s important to understand the difference between swivel and rigid casters. If you only want mobility in a back-and-forth motion, rigid casters (pictured on the right) are best for the job. But if you need 360° mobility, swivel casters (pictured on the left)will allow you to transport your object in every direction.
When talking about casters that swivel and casters that are rigid, imagine a shopping cart from the grocery store. The back wheels push the cart forward and backward (rigid), but the front wheels allow you to make turns (swivel).
In addition to range of motion needed, consider how you need to install the caster. Do you need hardware that threads into a leg, for a smaller footprint? Or does your project require a mount-on plate for a sturdier application with more surface area? For lighter or smaller objects, a threaded stem makes a great choice, for bulkier, heavier pieces, go for casters with mounting plates.
Each of these casters has a “break” which stops the wheel from rolling. If installing on something that will be often moved/locked, opt for a foot pedal style that has more surface area for quick adjustments, as shown on the left.
Think about the size and weight of the object your casters are supporting, as well as the surface they’ll be on top of. For example, sizing up on a caster will help a heavy item roll with ease. Also consider the surface the casters will be rolling on—while rubber wheels will perform well on concrete surfaces and potentially rolling over things like extension cords, cast iron wheels might work better in spaces where chemicals are present that could break-down rubber.