Does your office chair move around when you don’t want it to?
Fortunately, you can keep your chair in place while still enjoying the benefits of its wheels.
Several solutions are available, so no matter why your chair rolls, you can put a stop to it and sit comfortably.
Here are the most common solutions, as well as quick help about when they work best.
How to Stop Office Chair from Rolling
Here are some ways you can use to stop your chair from rolling off.
Also called “brake casters,” caster breaks are the most popular option. They’re a simple metal device attached to the chair’s wheels that lock to prevent rolling.
You can activate and deactivate these brakes whenever you like.
Most have a metal toggle bar that controls the brakes. To set the wheels in place, you press down on the bar with your foot. To release the brakes and allow the wheels to move, place your foot under the bar and pull it up.
These are called hands-free brake casters.
Other types have a toggle you have to operate with your hands.
The switch is often easier to move, although it’s still located on the wheel. You’ll have to lean down to use it, which can become inconvenient if you frequently need to lock and unlock the chair.
Some brake casters work in a different way. Instead of toggling a metal bar, the brakes automatically engage when you sit down in the chair.
If you want the wheels to move, you’ll need to lift your weight off the chair. While easy to apply, some people find these brakes awkward to disengage because you have to physically move each time.
When selecting hands-free brake casters, consider the following:
- How easily does it fit onto the chair?
- How easy is it to use?
Each brake caster should snap onto the wheels without much effort. Once in place, they should fit securely without any wobbling or movement.
Also, the toggle should move smoothly. Moving the toggle down typically isn’t an issue, even with cheaper brake casters, but make sure you can also use your foot to pull it back up.
Also called caster stoppers, these are circular or square objects you place under each wheel. They surround the wheel, like a wall, to prevent it from moving.
Most stoppers are made from heavy-duty vinyl or plastic with a non-marking vinyl bottom. They’re safe to use on hardwood, carpet, and practically all other types of flooring. Make sure the underside has a non-slip surface.
The biggest potential issue with a caster is getting the wrong size.
Depending on the manufacturer of your office chair, you might find caster cups specifically designed for it. Otherwise, you’ll still find plenty of options. Just make sure you measure the wheel size carefully to ensure a secure fit.
You can also make your own barriers. Even a couple of two-by-fours placed on the floor can act as an effective stop for a rolling chair.
If your chair rolls because it’s on a slippery surface, such as a hardwood floor or tile, try placing an area rug underneath it. A rug is often an effective solution when the floor is slick but still level.
Any type of rug can potentially work, but if you want maximum stoppage, try a rug with thick, tall threads, such as a shag-type rug.
Keep in mind that the thicker the rug, the harder it will likely be to roll your chair around on purpose. While you obviously don’t want to buy a bunch of different rugs, one way you can try out different options is by using carpet samples.
They won’t give you an exact match, but they can help you determine the general type of area rug that will stop your chair.
Instead of a rug, you can also find mats made from heavy-duty, clear plastic.
They have sharp(ish) points on the underside that help grip the carpet. While these plastic chair mats give off a distinct office vibe, they do create a flat, stable surface that can help stop rolling. Also, these mats tend to work well in combination with caster cups.
Wad of Foam
A simple block of foam can also stop your chair’s wheels from spinning.
You’ll want heavy, dense foam. Upholstery foam is a type that often works well for this purpose. You can find many different heights and densities online or at furniture stores.
Office chairs typically have a base that acts as a hub for the casters. You want to measure the distance from the floor to the underside of the base. Ideally, you want a piece of foam equal to that distance or even a quarter to a half-inch taller.
Cut the upholstery foam into a square roughly the same size as the base (not the entire surface area of the chair). Place the square underneath the base. If it’s the correct size, it should raise the chair off of the ground slightly.
The goal isn’t to completely immobilize the chair. Instead, because the foam bends, it makes any rolling far more subtle and contained. The chair can still roll if you use your feet, but it won’t roll on its own.
Replace the Wheels
Fortunately, it’s easy to remove the wheels of most desk chairs. They either unscrew or require a slight pull. Once you’re removed the wheels, you have three options:
- You can replace them with new wheels
- You can replace them with standard feet
- You can add what are called gliders or glides
If you still want the chair to roll, new wheels might help. Wheels can wear down over time, becoming looser. Caster brakes can also lose functionality. Fortunately, replacing the wheels is significantly cheaper than replacing the entire chair.
You can also get rid of the wheels entirely and add rubber feet instead. If you don’t want the chair to roll at all, traditional rubber feet provide the most stability. However, they can also make the chair hard to move.
Gliders, or glides, are an attempt at a middle ground between wheels and feet. They’re metal or plastic discs affixed to the bottom of each leg.
Truthfully, the term “glide” isn’t entirely accurate here. You can’t skate around the room, but they do help protect the floor when moving the chair.
Use a Strap
A chair strap is a possible solution, and it’s not as far-fetched as it might sound.
Desk-based exercises, such as desk cycles, often use a specialized strap to help your chair stay in place while you work out. It typically attaches to your desk or another fixed spot in the room.
A strap will keep your chair from rolling, but it also seriously restricts your movement.
Unlike a foot or glider, you could have difficulty moving the chair at all unless you first disengage the strap. They’re better suited for short-term use, such as exercising, instead of a long-term solution.
Why is Your Chair Rolling?
To key to finding the best solution is to identify what’s causing your chair to roll. The most common reasons include:
The Floor is Too Slanted
A slant of one inch out of ten feet is noticeable to a person, and even less of a slant can cause your chair to roll.
Interestingly, the problem can be worse for a new chair with undamaged, well-oiled wheels.
The Floor is Too Slick
Your chair might roll because the floor is too slick.
It’s a common problem with hardwood, linoleum, tile, and other non-carpeted surfaces.
Unlike a slanted floor, where the chair will roll in one direction consistently, a chair on a slick floor can roll in any potential direction.
The Wheels are Too Big
The bigger the wheels, the easier the chair moves. If they’re too big, the chair can feel too sensitive, as if it rolls at the slightest shift of your weight.
Which Solution is Best?
The right solution depends on how you use your chair.
If you like the ability to move around but just want more control over when you do so, try new wheels, an area rug, a foam square, or castor brakes.
Hands-free castor brakes are the most popular solution for a rolling chair.
If you want maximum stability, consider using castor cups or even replacing the wheels with gliders or feet.
Restricting movement entirely is often the most effective solution when the floor is significantly slanted.
When you need to stop an office chair from rolling, there’s bad news and good news.
The bad news is that fixing uneven flooring is usually a time-consuming and expensive process, so you’ll need to implement simpler solutions instead.
Fortunately, the solutions detailed above are generally easy and inexpensive. You can try them out in various combinations to help achieve an outcome that works best for you.
You don’t have to sit and suffer in an office chair that can’t stop rolling. Use the techniques described, and you’ll soon enjoy a new level of comfort at your desk.
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