If you build furniture or other items for use around the house, you may want to add casters or wheels to certain pieces. These casters may look very similar when you're ready to shop and you may not realize how certain features affect their overall use, but understanding some differences in casters will help you to make the best choice. Note a few quick tips on choosing the best casters for home projects.
1. Swiveling casters
Casters that swivel are those that can spin in any direction, versus fixed casters that just aim in one direction. The most obvious advantage of swiveling casters is that it makes an item easier to turn around corners since the caster will turn with the piece it's supporting and not resist that effort.
However, another advantage of swiveling casters is that they're easier to run over electrical cords, carpet edges, and the like. When something you're pushing on casters encounters an obstacle, the swiveling caster will turn so that the wheel can gently lift itself over that obstacle. Fixed casters will resist that obstacle, just like it resists when you try to turn a corner. If you want to add casters to a work cabinet that you'll be using in a garage where there are electrical cords or uneven floor mats, opt for the swiveling caster.
2. Rubber versus plastic casters
Plastic casters are lightweight and typically used for indoor items. They will do less damage to a finished floor than rubber casters as they're not likely to leave marks on the floor.
Rubber casters can be good for when you're concerned about getting shocks; if you're working in a dry environment and run plastic casters over the floor, static electricity can build up. Rubber will ground that electricity and help to avoid the shock. This also makes them a good choice when working in a shop with electrical cords on the floor, as they'll keep the electricity grounded if a wire should become exposed. However, rubber casters might leave marks on a finished floor so they may not always be good for pieces you would use inside the home.
3. Plate size
A larger plate size, meaning the flat piece of the caster that actually get attached to a furniture piece, can help disperse the weight of the piece if you should ever suddenly stop moving. This can mean less likelihood of the caster breaking. The heavier the piece or the more weight it will carry, the larger the plate of the caster should be.