Wednesday, March 9, 2022

What’s the difference between a wheel and a caster?


    What’s the difference between a wheel and a caster? Well, the answer may be a little different than you thought it was. While the two have functions that are the same, casters have more features.

    Wheels only move in one direction, forward or backward, in a straight line. Casters can also move forward and backwards, but also move side to side. Casters can be seen in a lot of environments such as offices, warehouses, and grocery stores.

    Here at Material Flow, we offer a wide variety of wheels, casters, and their accessories. You can replace wheels and casters on most carts, chairs, hand trucks, and other tools and furniture. We sell plate, pneumatic, steel, and specialty casters, along with hand truck and cart wheels.

    How do you pick the right caster? There are five things to consider when selecting the right caster; rollability, capacity, shock loading, operating environment, and the effect of floors on casters and the effects that casters have on floors. 

  1. The bigger the caster, the easier it will be roll, this will make it safer for staff when moving things. How heavy will your load be? 
  2. You can divide your maximum load by four to get a caster with the right weight capacity, but weight isn’t always split evenly across loads, leading to miscalculation. 
  3. Is your floor surface even, will things be dropped on the loading platform? These are some of the things to consider for shock loading. Things like uneven floors, concrete joints, door jams, sloped floors, and many other factors can cause a shock load on a caster that isn’t meant for a certain use. 
  4. Where will the caster be used? The operating environment of the caster also helps in deciding which caster is the right fit for you. Will it be used in a quiet environment? If so, we offer quiet rolling casters with high loading capacities. What’s the temperature like, hot or cold? Will it be used in a humid, wet, or excessively dusty area? Casters with sealed bearings would be the right choice for those situations.
  5. What effect casters have on your floor? Yes, steel casters roll easier and have higher loading capacities, but they can cause a lot of damage to concrete floors. How is the condition of your floor? Is there a lot of rough surfaces? This can cause the caster to absorb debris and create cleaning and safety hazards.

    As for how to pick the right wheel, here at Material Flow we offer replacement hand truck and cart wheels, for use with Dutro, Harper, Magline, BP, Wesco, Milwaukee, and most other products. Let us know what you need a wheel replacement for and we’ll gladly help you pick the right one just for you!

    If you need recommendations on specific wheels or casters for your specific use case, feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 338-1382 or email us at and our highly trained staff of customer service and sales representatives are here to assist you.

Here's a document to help select the correct caster for you. 
View Document

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