I just gave my office chair the ultimate upgrade — and it costs under $30

A picture of the Branch Ergonomic Chair upgraded with rollerblade wheels
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Although you could go out and shop for a new office chair if your current one is showing signs of wear and tear, upgrading your existing office chair is another option worth considering.

With one of the best office chairs and proper care and maintenance, you should be able to use your current chair for anywhere between seven and ten years. However, what if you rushed out and purchased a budget office chair and aren’t quite happy with how it feels?

Maybe your chair has squeaky wheels or they could be damaging your hardwood floors. If you’re experiencing either of these scenarios, you’re in luck as the wheels of an office chair (also known as casters) are one of the easiest things to upgrade and you don’t have to spend a fortune on some slick new ones.

In fact, I just upgraded the wheels on the Branch Ergonomic Chair I’ve been using for the past few years and I noticed an immediate improvement after installing the new ones. If you have hardwood floors or the wheels on your own office chair just aren’t doing it for you anymore, you might want to consider rollerblade wheels instead.

Traditional dual-wheel casters vs rollerblade wheels

The Branch Ergonomic Chair next to a standing desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The wheels or casters that are attached to the base of an office chair are made up of three parts: the mount, the stem and the wheel itself. However, many casters feature a two-wheel design with a wheel on either side. 

The reason for this is that a dual-wheel design provides a wider surface to evenly distribute weight but it also helps prolong the life of the casters while preventing damage to your floors. Dual-wheel casters are what allow an office chair to both roll and swivel so you can easily change directions when sitting on it.

When you buy an office chair, the wheels it ships with vary depending on how the chair is intended to be used, its weight capacity and the type of flooring the chair will be used on. As a general rule of thumb, hard casters are designed for carpet while soft casters are better for hardwood floors.

A side by side shot of a traditional dual-wheel caster and rollerblade wheels for an office chair

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of high-end office chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron ship with rollerblade wheels instead of traditional dual-wheel casters. Besides looking a lot cooler and having ball bearings at their center to help the wheels spin more easily, rollerblade wheels are also softer and have a better time gripping onto hardwood floors.

As I’ve spent a lot of time using the X-Chair X2 which also ships with rollerblade wheels, I wondered if it would be possible to use these kinds of wheels on the Branch Ergonomic Chair. As it turns out, the majority of office chair casters are interchangeable. There are a few exceptions to this rule but for the most part, you can easily swap out your existing casters with a new set of rollerblade wheels.

Since the Branch Ergonomic Chair I’m using has a black backrest and seat cushion with a white frame, I decided to pick up a set of white rollerblade wheels ($28, Amazon) to match its frame. However, you can pick up a set of black rollerblade wheels for your own office chair for as low as $15. Alternatively, you can spend a bit more (still less than $30) to get a set in a number of different colors like green, light blue or gold and guess what, they even have rollerblade wheels with RGB if that’s your thing.

A five-minute upgrade that makes a huge difference

Removing the casters from an office chair

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If this is your first time swapping out the casters on an office chair, you’re in luck as this is one of the easiest upgrades to do and you don’t even need any tools. Yes, you read that right.

To get started, all you have to do is flip over your office chair, hold its base firmly with one hand to prevent it from spinning and start pulling off your old casters with your other hand. They should slide right off but you may have to wiggle them a bit to loosen them if you’ve been using your chair for a long time.

With my old casters set aside, it was then just a matter of popping in my new rollerblade wheels the way I did when I originally built the Branch Ergonomic Chair. The whole process took me all of five minutes but I could have done it even faster if I didn’t have to stop and take pictures.

Rollerblade wheels on an office chair

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

My new rollerblade wheels look great on the Branch Ergonomic Chair and I love how both the mount and the core at the center of the wheels match the chair’s frame. After swapping out the old casters, I gave the chair a try and it felt a lot better on my hardwood floor with the bonus that I no longer had to worry about scratching it. These new rollerblade wheels also give the chair a more premium look when it’s pushed into one of the best standing desks.

Putting a new spin on any office chair

Rollerblade wheels look and feel great but just like with rollerblades, they do take some time to get used to. The main difference between them and traditional dual-wheel casters is that they can’t swivel. However, they make up for this by being smoother when you’re rolling back and forth in your chair. Honestly, it now feels like I’m gliding across the room instead of rolling.

Whether you’re tired of scratching up your hardwood floors or just want to give your office chair a brand new look and feel, rollerblade wheels are an inexpensive upgrade you likely won’t regret. However, since swapping out the wheels on your office chair is so easy and takes almost no time at all, you can always go back to dual-wheel casters if you find that rollerblade wheels just aren’t your thing. Still, once you try them yourself, I doubt you will. 

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home. 

  • Ghfiii
    I did this for both of my office chairs about a year ago. And yes, wholeheartedly agree that this is awesome