Casters are small wheels designed to make furniture, appliances and various types of office, institutional, commercial, industrial and medical equipment easily movable or even mobile. Today most home appliances such as stoves and refrigerators come with wheels, as do many types of furniture.
Not only do casters make moving easier, they simplify house cleaning as well. Moving a refrigerator away from the wall to clean beneath it is hard work without wheels, but with them, all that is needed is a slight tug. Couches and chairs on casters can also be easily moved for vacuuming or sweeping.
If a piece of furniture loses a wheel, it can easily be replaced. Furniture casters are commonly designed with a steel peg at the top that simply slides into a pre-drilled hole on the underside of the furniture. Other types utilize a steel bracket at the top.
Some casters have a built-in brake design. These are frequently used in institutional, industrial and medical settings. Gurneys and hospital beds use this design, along with countless types of industrial carts. The brake system usually consists of a lever that can be depressed by the foot to lock the wheel in place.
Caster wheels can be made from a variety of materials and can come in many designs. Wheels might be grooved aluminum, plastic, wood or soft rubber. Though some are more decorative than others, with wheels in various bright colors, most are fairly utilitarian.
When buying casters for use in your home, be sure to take into consideration the type of flooring you have. Different types of rugs might require a certain type of wheel material, or a certain size wheel, for the best result. To protect wood flooring, experts recommend rubber wheels. Beware that casterized chairs on a wood floor have a tendency to move when someone sits down.
Casters are inexpensive and readily available at home improvement stores. They are rated for the amount of weight they will support. Most standard sizes can support up to 300 lb (181 kg), but heavy-duty industrial ones can support as much as 7.5 tons (15 kilopounds) each.