Are Office Chairs Bad for Carpet?

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For many of us, carpet is our floor covering of choice. It offers cushioned support, comfort, warmth, and style. 

Office chairs are another popular feature in our work environment, cleverly designed for flexible motion and postural alignment.

But what happens when you combine carpet with office chairs?

Can office chairs damage carpet, and is this preventable? Whether office chairs are bad for your carpet depends on your wheel type and quality, the type of your carpet itself, and what preventative measures you’ve taken (if any).

The solution lies in three actionable steps: replace, reinforce, and upgrade. Replacement refers to the wheels, reinforcement to what’s under the wheels, and upgrade to your choice of office chair. 

Concerned about your carpet? Read on for some wheel-y good hints on preventing your office chair from inflicting harm on your floor covering. 

What kind of chair wheels are best for carpet?

Wheel type

Office chair wheels have a potential to damage your carpet as you roll them across it, snagging fibers, and leaving indentations or marks. 

Dual wheel casters made from hard plastic are one of the most common wheel types used in office chairs across the world.

They look typically a bit like these ones from Amazon:

This type of wheel work less well on some carpets, since the dual wheel design and hard plastic material make it easier for carpet fibers to get snagged. Over time as the chair rolls across the carpet, these fibers can get caught up inside the wheel. 

Roller-blade style chair wheels are often a better choice than the hard plastic dual wheel variety, as they’re manufactured from a soft form of rubber such as polyurethane which is designed to glide smoothly over carpet without damage. 

The “roller-blade style” simply means the wheel itself is one connected “rubber-like” component, similar to the wheels of a rollerblade. Usually this style of wheel is a little softer than the hard plastic variety, which you can see by pressing down on it with your finger.

To get a visual on the roller-blade style of wheel, have a look at these ones (also on Amazon):

It’s worth mentioning that having a dual wheel caster design doesn’t guarantee your carpet will be damaged, as there are a few other factors at play (i.e. the manufacturer’s particular choice of materials).

I’d recommend double checking with the manufacturer or provider of the chair to see whether the wheels you’re currently using are specifically designed to handle carpet surfaces. 

If you can’t find any mention of compatibility with carpet, then you may want to look further into investing in a roller-blade style set.

The other thing to keep in mind is the wheel type can only go so far in terms of reducing the risk of carpet damage. 

If you’re using a higher pile (i.e. longer, fluffier carpet), you’ll likely want to use a mat. See the section on carpet type below for more information. 

Wheel quality

In short, worn wheels wreak havoc, especially if they’re of inferior quality. Wobbly wheels won’t do for balance, whilst degraded or low-quality wheels and casters are more likely to cause damage to carpets. 

A quality and well-maintained set of chair wheels is critical to protecting your carpet. 

If you discover your chair wheels are worn and you’re not in the market for a new chair, you can always opt to replace them. 

If your office chair does not already feature roller-blade style wheels made from a rubber material, you can upgrade it by purchasing soft-floor casters online

Our five best office chairs for carpets guide gives a run-down on the best caster options for different carpet types, as well as a link to a video tutorial on competent castor and wheel selection. 

What type of carpet is best for office chairs? 

Carpet choice is just as important as the quality of your chair and its components. In general, the flatter, firmer, and smoother a carpet is, the less likely your office chair will cause it damage.

In other words, there is less risk of damage with low profile, “lower pile” carpets, which are carpets featuring shorter fibers and tight loops of fabric. 

Modern commercial carpets are designed with durability in mind. They are often lower pile, thinner, and tougher, so they can withstand heavier traffic including the rolling of chair wheels.

This is an example of the sort of lower profile carpet that tends to work OK with office chairs:

Lower pile carpet

If you’re dealing with a higher pile carpet (i.e. a carpet with long fluffy fibers – think a 70s shag carpet), then you’re going to have more trouble using an office chair without damaging carpet.

So you’ll have a harder time if your carpet looks like this:

High pile carpet

For higher pile carpets like this, purchasing a mat to place under your chair is highly recommended. 

If you’re re-carpeting an office area, this is your opportunity to select a grade and style of carpet that your office chair wheels are less likely to snag and damage. 

If you’re working from a home office, you may be restricted to the type of carpet already in place. In this case, and especially if your carpet is very plush, or of low quality, you may wish to opt for a harder-tread wheel option, such as plastic, and to consider the additional measures discussed below. 

How to prevent office chairs damaging carpet 

Do office chair mats protect carpet? 

Purchasing a mat to cover the area that your office chair occupies or moves across, is a simple way to preserve carpet integrity. 

A mat provides a barrier between chair wheels and the carpet, and can prevent wear and tear of the carpet, as well as staining. There’s a range of online options available with different looks and feels to complement your office style.

Do wheel less office chairs harm carpet? 

Office chairs without wheels provide a more cost-effective choice that may also deter further costly damage to carpet. 

They do, however, come with limitations, and you may be forsaking the ergonomic advantage of adjustable armrests and seat heights. 

Stationery office chairs are not only more budget friendly, they also don’t usually require an engineering degree to assemble. We’ve put together a selection of my top chair alternatives without wheels, all of which retail under $200. 

Are there any other carpet protecting options? 

Another option is to convert your swivel and roll office chair into a stationary chair with products such as these bell glide replacement casters:

In this way, you can protect your carpet by removing the rolling wheel function of your office chair. If you’re unsure about whether a glide office chair is suitable to your needs, there are online comparison guides to help you out. 

Another way to shield your carpets from damage is to remove your office chair entirely. 

Opting for a standing desk over the more common seated version will not only safe-guard your carpet, but you’ll also be encouraging healthy postural alignment. 

Medical research links many of our musculoskeletal problems with prolonged periods of sitting. Taking a stand, quite literally, could help save both back and carpet. 

Which office chairs are best for carpet maintenance 

Ergonomics Quest represents the integration of personal experience and research into the competitive market of office chairs and their interaction with different carpet choices.

We keep you up to date with the latest makes, models, and the specs that make them special, and in this article that make them kind to carpets. 

Our top five selection of office chairs for carpets includes a breakdown of the pros and cons of each chair type in relation to carpet choice to help inform your purchase. 

Final thoughts: Are office chairs bad for carpet? 

Office chairs are not necessarily bad for carpet. There are many available that work just fine across carpet, hard floors, and other surfaces.

However, as discussed, there are some cases where your office chair might be harmful to your carpet.

Whether your office chair is harmful will depend on the wheel type and quality, what sort of carpet you’re using, and whether you’re using a protective floor mat.

So, there you have it, with a little purchase planning and perhaps some DIY maintenance, you can indeed protect your carpet from office chair damage. 

Mitigate the risk to carpet posed by your office chair by adhering to these principles of replacement, reinforcement, and upgrade.

I hope you got something out of this article and thanks for reading.